Yes, it was a down year at the box office in 2011, but sometimes it’s all about scheduling. While the family’s all together for Christmas, they might not exactly spend a holiday at the multiplex, particularly with many theaters closing early. The weekend after, when everyone’s glad to see their friends again, however, is just enough motivation to plunk down that $10-$12-$20 on an overpriced box office ticket and a mammoth, bladder-clogging, sugary fountain drink that can’t be good for you.
For the second straight week, the top choice was “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” Like most of the week’s releases, it improved on last week’s take, and should surpass the final numbers for “Mission: Impossible III” by next week. It’s a long way to get to the second film’s $215 million domestic take, but the first picture’s $180 million gross is well within reach. Meanwhile, worldwide, the picture’s already easily crossed $300 million, and should eventually cross $400. In other words, slander be damned, Tom Cruise is back and kicking ass at the box office.
Hanging tough in second was “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.” In the end, sequels and spinoffs rule the day, with the year’s top ten films all based on pre-existing movies, and this week’s top three no different. 'Holmes' earned a bit of extra momentum with this weekend, and despite early reports of failure, it should finish within striking distance of the first film’s gross ($209 million domestically). Whereas the earlier picture was top heavy, this one’s gained favor with the long play, suggesting there may be life in this franchise just yet.
Nearly improving on its audience by half, “Alvin and the Chipmunks” kept in the game, and should cross $100 million after the four day weekend. Again with this 'Chipmunks' shit, people? Just say no. The bigger news is the muscular performance of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” which suddenly looks like it will be over $60 million at the end of Monday. Like Lisbeth Salander herself, the early numbers looked mousy, but it turns out there might be a chance there’s a fighter here after all. 'Dragon Tattoo' wasn’t cheap (it is David Fincher, after all), but it’s not far-fetched that Sony pushes this to nine figures. Get those pyrotechnics and hornet experts ready, we might have ourselves a franchise!
“War Horse” burst upon the scene on Christmas, but since then, the numbers cooled a bit. It’s clocking in at around $42 million after seven days of release, which is pretty good, but not Spielberg good. Nevertheless, word of mouth could easily vault the film past $100 million, and into the public eye, which will only benefit the picture’s Oscar chances. Right on its tail, and also experiencing a powerful second weekend bump is “We Bought a Zoo.” Pronounced D.O.A. in its first weekend, 'Zoo' may actually outpace Matt Damon’s last few non-ensemble roles.
Even with slightly bigger second weekend numbers, “The Adventures of Tintin” doesn’t look like it’s catching on with the domestic general public in any major way. The verdict is in regarding American audiences and motion capture technology – if Spielberg couldn’t make it attractive, it's likely no one can. And perhaps they picked the wrong release date – “New Years’ Eve” picked up a strong headwind and increased its last weekend audience by over 80%, bringing its domestic total from “not much” to “eh.”
It didn’t win a lot of support on its Christmas day release, and now “The Darkest Hour” is ticking away with a puny per-screen average. Meanwhile, sneaking back into the top ten was "The Descendants," which took a quantum leap from the previous weekend and is ready to pass $40 million. Superficial as this may be, if the film keeps playing to general audiences in January, it will strongly lift the film's Oscar chances.
The weekend's big indie debut was "The Iron Lady," which squeaked onto four locations for Oscar consideration. It was a powerhouse opening, with $55k per-screen leading to a superb $221k total. Also debuting was the buzzed-about "A Separation," which totaled a strong $66k at three engagements. Slightly less robust was "Pariah," which arrived at four locations, totaling a solid $49.7k.
It was very active for the arthouse holdovers as well. While "The Artist" didn't expand, it still improved heavily on last weekend's numbers with $1.4 million on 167 screens, passing the $5 million mark in the process. Even more spectacular is the continuned $20k per-screen performance of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," which pulled in $1.2 million at 57 locations, incredible numbers for a four-week-old release. "A Dangerous Method" was strong in week six, grabbing $330k on 61 screens, while "Carnage" expanded to 12 theaters from seven, grabbing $106k. Also with $106k is the second weekend of "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," which averaged $17k at six locations. Support your local indie theater, boys and girls.
1. Mission: Impossible: Ghost: Protocol: Colon: Part: Four (Paramount) – $31.2 million ($134 mil. domestically)
2. Sherlock Holmes: We’re Already At The Movies, Might As Well Watch Something (Warner Bros.) – $22 million ($132 mil.)
3. Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Fox) – $18.2 million ($94 mil.)
4. War Horse (Disney) – $16.9 million ($42.9 mil.)
5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Sony) – $16.3 million ($57 million)
6. Animals + Matt Damon = Movie (Fox) – $14.2 million ($41.7 mil.)
7. The Adventures of Tintin (Paramount) – $12 million ($47 mil.)
8. New Years Eve (Warner Bros.) – $6.7 million ($46 mil.)
9. The Darkest Timeline (Summit) – $4.3 million ($13 mil.)
10. The Descendants (Fox) – $3.7 million ($40 mil.)