Holiday Box Office Caps Disappointing Year; Only 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' Scores

Box Office
by Anne Thompson
December 26, 2011 1:54 PM
2 Comments
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Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
If Hollywood was hoping that the holiday box office during the highest-volume ticket-selling period of the year would turn around their fortunes they were mistaken. Only one of the big-ticket studio tentpoles scored really big over the four-day holiday weekend, Friday through Christmas Day, which fell on a Sunday this year. This means that Saturday night was indeed silent at the box office. Compared to last year's four-day holiday weekend, which included Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, this year's box office is up 8%. The box office should improve Monday.

Paramount franchise "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" grossed an estimated $46.2 million in four days, proving that audiences still like Tom Cruise as ruthless daredevil Ethan Hunt. Marking a turn to live action, Pixar animator Brad Bird ("The Incredibles") delivered just the right mix of thrills, humor and character-driven visual spectacle. The $145 million movie even scored rave reviews, earning 97 % with top critics on the Tomatometer. The movie boasts an enviable A- CinemaScore and pulled 61% male vs. 39% female, 65% 25 and over. Paramount effectively platformed the film last weekend on IMAX screens, which on the holiday weekend delivered 23% of the gross.

In its second go-round, Warner Bros.' $125 million sequel "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" managed to outperform $31.8 million vs. $19.4 million David Fincher's violent feminist procedural "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," starring Daniel Craig as passive muckraker Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as vengeful punk hacker Lisbeth Salander. It will have to earn back its $90-million budget overseas. "Tattoo" scored 78% with Top Critics on the Tomatometer.

And the family market bloodbath continued as too many PG films ate each other up, from Steven Spielberg's Euro-centric animated entry "The Adventures of Tintin," which will collect the lion's share of its grosses overseas ($240 million to date), to $80-million chirpy sequel "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" (which did well on its second weekend despite its 11% rating from Top Critics on the Tomatometer) and Cameron Crowe's bid for a comeback, "We Bought a Zoo," starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, which grossed $15.6 million off a Tomatometer score of 65% with Top Critics.

$135-million "Tintin" earned an A- CinemaScore and a modest 67% Tomatometer with Top Critics. The movie lured a 55% male audience, with 51% aged 25 and under. Audiences preferred to see the film in 3-D, which accounted for 74% of the gross.

Of the films that opened on Christmas Day, Spielberg's second film of the season, Disney/DreamWorks' period tearjerker "War Horse," opened well in 2,376 theatres, grossing a two-day estimate of $15,025,000 (per theater average $6324). The well-reviewed drama (87% with Top Critics on Tomatometer) skewed toward older moviegoers, as 31% of attendees were over the age of 50. The movie will do very well going forward.

Summit released wide New Regency's $30-million sci-fi holiday-themed actioner "The Darkest Hour" starring Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby to $5.5 million, which played young and male and earned a C+ Cinemascore and 25% Tomatomatoer score. Tom Jacobson and Timur Bekmambetov produced. Safe to say it will not "survive the holidays."

In limited release on six screens, Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" managed a two day estimate of $22,667 per screen in just six theaters. In terms of playing more broadly, however, the post 9/11 literary drama starring newcomer Thomas Horn with support from Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock needed stellar reviews and must-see status to overcome its glum subject; it earned just 55% on the Tomatometer.

Among the year's box office disasters are WB's $135 million "Happy Feet Two," which didn't last in theaters long enough to score with the holiday crowd--after six weeks it was only on 525 screens, with a dismal weekend $451 per screen average, grossing a total $60 million. And the studio's "J. Edgar," from Clint Eastwood, at a total $36 million to date, won't come close to making back its modest $35 million budget. Also unlikely to make back its $170 million budget is "Hugo," even though it is hanging in with audiences at a total of $45 million to date; it simply cost too much. Meanwhile Paramount's "Young Adult," which luckily only cost $12 million, is plodding along in 987 theaters, with a total so far of $8,184,000.

Indiewire reports the indie Christmas picture.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN - Four day figures

1. "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" (Paramount) - $46.2 million on its second weekend on 3,448 screens, $13,399 theater average. Domestic total: $78.6 million
2. "Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows" (Warner Bros.) - $31.8 million million on its second weekend on 3,703 screens, $8587 theater average. Domestic total: $90.6 million.
3. "Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" (Fox) - $20 million on its second weekend on 3,734 screens, 5356 theater average. Domestic total: $56.9 million.
4. "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" (Sony) - $19.4 million on its first weekend on 2,914 screens, 6657 theater average.  Domestic total: $27.7 million.
5. "The Adventures Of Tintin" (Paramount) - $16.1 million on its first weekend on 3,087 screens, $5215 theater average. Domestic total: $24.1 million.
6. "We Bought A Zoo" (Fox) - $15.6 million on its first weekend on 3,117 screens, 5005 theater average. Domestic total: $15.6 million.
7. "War Horse" (Disney/DreamWorks) - $15 million on its first two days on 2376 screens, $6324 theater average. Domestic total: $15 million.
8. "The Darkest Hour" (New Regency/Summit), $5.5 million on its first two-day weekend on 2585 screens, 2915 per screen average. Domestic total: $5.5 million.
9. "New Year's Eve" (Warner Bros.) - $4.9 million on its third weekend on 2,585 screens, $1282 theater average. Domestic total: $34.3 million.
10. "The Descendants" (Fox Searchlight), $3.4 million on its sixth weekend on 813 screens, $4213 theater average. Domestic total: $33.7 million.

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2 Comments

  • Happenstance | December 27, 2011 3:04 PMReply

    @L.S.: You can make a good movie but you can't make people watch it. Box office take is never a sign of a film's quality.

  • L.S. | December 26, 2011 3:41 PMReply

    How is "...Dragon Tattoo" not destroying everything else??? It was fan-f***ing-tastic.

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