'Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol'

A return to the days when Tom Cruise was a top domestic box office draw might have seemed like an impossible mission, but 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' easily fended off several highly-touted newcomers, including 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Adventures of Tintin,' to take the holiday box office crown.

After last week's successful IMAX-only debut, the fourth 'Mission: Impossible' installment expanded from 425 screens to 3,448, resulting in an estimated second-weekend take of $26.5 million. That's about $10 million less than most pundits predicted, but it was still far ahead of any other movie this weekend. Plus, with decent word-of-mouth and no new wide releases this coming weekend, the movie may well retain the top slot for another week or two. The movie's total to date comes to $59.0 million.

Last week's champ, 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' fell a sharp 55 percent to an estimated $17.8 million and a second-place finish. (No wonder, with as many as four new wide release movies elbowing into the action/mystery/adventure/thriller space.) In two weekends, it's earned a solid $76.6 million.

In third place, 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,' dropped 42 percent to an estimated $13.3 million. Those numbers have to be a huge disappointment for the franchise, whose first two installments grossed more than $215 million each. This one has earned just $50.3 million in two weeks. It'll be lucky to get anywhere near $100 million.

'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' (2011)

Debuting in fourth place, 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' earned an estimated $13.0 million. That's well below expectations, which were at least $18 million on the low end. After all, the movie is based on a best-selling book, is tailored to the gifts of its A-list director (David Fincher) and has been riding a wave of hype and Oscar buzz for a year. Still, it's a long movie (nearly three hours), which limits the number of times per day it can screen, it has a lot of competition among current wide-release thrillers, and its pretty grim and horrific for moviegoers in a holiday mood. Still, its acclaim and uniqueness (nothing else in theaters is this dark) may give it some legs. Having opened in mid-week, it has earned a total so far of $21.4 million.

'The Adventures of Tintin'

'The Adventures of Tintin' was already an enormous international hit by the time it opened here on Wednesday. Which is good because the Steven Spielberg family-friendly action tale earned only an estimated $9.1 million at the domestic box office over the weekend (finishing at No. 5) and $17.1 million total in North America for the week. That's about what was expected, given American audiences' lack of familiarity with the European comic-book adventurer. Having already earned $239 million overseas, the makers of 'Tintin' probably aren't too disappointed.

'We Bought a Zoo'

Debuting in sixth place was 'We Bought a Zoo,' which has grossed an estimated $7.8 million since it opened on Friday. Again, that's about all that was expected of the family-friendly film, despite some buzz-building sneak previews in recent weeks. Reviews were mixed, and Matt Damon isn't as bankable of a name outside the action genre.

Final figures for the crowded Christmas weekend, which included the Sunday releases of Steven Spielberg's period drama 'War Horse' and the alien invasion thriller 'The Darkest Hour,' won't be released until Tuesday. At this writing, there were no studio estimates yet for the first day's receipts for the two December 25 debuts. Before the weekend, pundits' predictions for 'War Horse' were in the $6-$7 million range for Sunday, while they expected just $2 or $3 million from 'The Darkest Hour.'

'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' - Trailer No. 2

The full top 10:
1. 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' $26.5 million (3,448 screens) $59.0 million total
2. 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' $17.8 million (3,703), $76.6 million
3. 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,' $13.3 million (3,734), $50.3 million
4. 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' $13.0 million (2,914), $21.4 million
5. 'The Adventures of Tintin,' $9.1 million (3,087), $17.1 million
6. 'We Bought a Zoo,' $7.8 million (3,117), new release
7. 'New Year's Eve,' $4.0 million (2,225), $32.3 million total
8. 'Arthur Christmas,' $2.7 million (1,804), $44.2 million
9. 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1,' $2.1 million (1,603), $270.9 million
10. 'Hugo,' $2.0 million (1,236) $43.7 million

[Photos: Paramount ('Mission: Impossible'), Sony ('The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'), Paramount ('The Adventures of Tintin'), 20th Century Fox ('We Bought a Zoo')]



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