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Weekend Box-Office: December 16-18, 2011

12.18.2011

Sherlock shoots for the top!

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS opened to $40 million this weekend, and while that's a mighty money mountain compared to the tragic box office of recent months, it's still nowhere near the $62.3M that the first movie pulled in on Christmas weekend just two years ago. In fact, my dear Watson, as a point of reference Robert Downey Jr.'s return as the legendary sleuth didn't even defeat TRON LEGACY, a decades-late sequel that opened to $44M over this weekend last year.

Computer-generated yard rodents also felt the sting of hard times (and questionable marketing?), as ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED skittered away with $23.5M, just around half of the other franchise entries (ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS opened to $44M this weekend in 2007, and ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL opened with $48.8M over the Christmas 2009 weekend).

The real winner of the weekend was MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL, stealing $13M even though it only opened in IMAX at 425 locations (it goes wide next Wednesday). The fourth Tom Cruise espionage escapade (and the live-action debut of THE INCREDIBLES director Brad Bird) scored a towering $30K per-screen average, thrice that of the SHERLOCK sequel. Granted, the higher IMAX ticket price and the allure of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES footage at a handful of locations contributed to that, but it's still an impressive feat.

On the rest of the list, NEW YEAR'S EVE and THE SITTER dropped about half of their already negligible openings, and the proximity to the holiday didn't give any real boost to the family fare on the chart as HUGO, ARTHUR CHRISTMAS and THE MUPPETS occupy the last three slots. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN (PART 1) is still hanging in there, although at this rate it may not match the domestic totals of the last two pics in the series (NEW MOON topped at $296M and ECLIPSE hit $300M).

YOUNG ADULT went wide onto almost a thousand screens, but only had a slight return with $3.6M for seventh place (THE DESCENDANTS, down in 11th place, had a higher per-screen average in its fifth week of release). Speaking of outside the chart, award-buzzed limited releases like TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, A DANGEROUS METHOD and THE ARTIST are doing strong per-screen business on just a few screens, but MY WEEK WITH MARILYN and THE DESCENDANTS appear to be losing steam.

Besides the jolly fat man with the big red sack, next week brings a load of movies to accompany your holiday cheer. It's dueling Spielbergs with THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (on Wednesday) and WAR HORSE (on Christmas day), chilly thrills with David Fincher's adaptation of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Wednesday), animals and Damon with WE BOUGHT A ZOO (Friday), sci-fi terror in Russia with THE DARKEST HOUR (Christmas), plus the expansion of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL (Wednesday), THE ARTIST and MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, and limited releases of ALBERT NOBBS, EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE, and Angelina Jolie's directing debut IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY. Hope you get everything you wanted for Christmas!

# MOVIE TITLE WKND $ TOTAL $
1. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows $40 M
NEW
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked $23.5 M
NEW
3. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol $13 M $13.6 M
4. New Year's Eve $7.4 M $24.8 M
5. The Sitter $4.4 M $17.7 M
6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part 1) $4.3 M $266.4 M
7. Young Adult $3.6 M $4 M
8. Hugo $3.6 M $39 M
9. Arthur Christmas $3.6 M $38.5 M
10. The Muppets $3.4 M $70.9 M

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Source: Box Office Mojo

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