Weekend Box Office: Returning Films Go Head-to-Head with New Releases for Holiday Box Office Bucks

Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol looks like the one to beat this weekend after the fourth film in the franchise grossed an estimated $6.4 million on Thursday for a cume of $32.4 million domestically in its first week at theaters. Paramount’s Tom Cruise starrer has also earned a hearty $96 million at foreign box offices since it rolled out last Friday.

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Traffic has picked up at the box office this week as Christmas approaches, but the real test will be the week between Christmas and the New Year, when movie-going typically spikes.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows grossed $4.8 million on Thursday for a seven-day domestic cume of $58.8 million, enough to put it in second place behind Gross Protocol for the day, though the film is miles ahead in terms of overall gross. Both Ghost Protocol and A Game of Shadows opened in theaters last weekend.

In second for the week and third for Thursday is Fox’s (NASDAQ:NWSA) Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, which grossed $4 million domestically yesterday for a seven-day cume of $36.9 million. As was the case with Game of Shadows, which is underperforming the first Sherlock Holmes film, Chipwrecked opened well below expectations last weekend, but will likely get a boost as school breaks for the holidays.

Also continuing in theaters is Steven Spielberg’s 3D family film The Adventures of Tintin, which is off to a soft start in the U.S. and Canada, though the film has done well overseas, where it opened in late October. TinTin was released to American audiences on Wednesday, and grossed $8 million in its first two days in theaters. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo also opened on Wednesday, grossing $8.4 million in its first two days in theaters.

The domestic box office will grow even more crowded this weekend, with Fox opening We Bought a Zoo on Friday and Dreamworks (NASDAQ:DWA) and Disney (NYSE:DIS) releasing Spielberg’s second Christmas film War Horse on Sunday. Summit will release its sci-fi action thriller The Darkest Hour on Christmas Day as well.

The specialty box office will also play host to a few new releases, including Angela Jolie’s directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey, which opens in three theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, while Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX) opens Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, in six theaters on Sunday.

Six-time Golden Globe nominee The Artist will make a major expansion on Friday, as will My Week with Marilyn. Both films were given limited releases by the Weinstein Co. late last month.

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