Despite a number of the holiday season's higher profile films being released on Friday, the overall box office was unable to get out of its recent funk this weekend.
Leading the way was Warner's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows with a weaker than expected $39.64 million. That was 36 percent softer than the $62.30 million opening weekend performance of 2009's Sherlock Holmes. With A Game of Shadows opening before Christmas, it should display stronger holding power than Sherlock Holmes did. However, with six films entering wide release over Christmas week and Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday, chances are strong that the film will take a major hit in its second weekend, before rebounding on Christmas Day and after Christmas. Another potentially troubling early sign is that the film generated an opening weekend to Friday ratio of just 2.71 to 1. That suggests that the film's family audience was rather limited, at least this weekend.
Internationally, Sherlock Holmes 2 grossed $14.6 million from just 6 international markets. That is a good sign that like the first film before it, Sherlock Holmes 2 will be significantly stronger internationally than domestically. Key grosses this weekend included $6.0 million in the United Kingdom, $4.8 million in Italy and $1.2 million in Sweden. The film will open in Korea and Germany this week.
Fox's Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked also opened softer than expected with a second place start of $23.24 million. The third installment of the family franchise opened a whopping 52 percent softer than the $48.88 million start of 2009's Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (with that film's opening weekend being deflated to begin with from opening on a Wednesday). While Chipwrecked should still be able to surpass the $100 million mark thanks to potentially strong holiday holding power; the film has essentially no chance of coming anywhere close to the respective domestic grosses of the first two films of the franchise.
On the international front Chipwrecked opened with $13.7 million from 37 international markets. Key grosses included $3.7 million in the United Kingdom, $1.7 million in Mexico, $1.3 million in Spain and $1.0 million in Korea.
The weekend's one real bright spot was Paramount's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. The fourth installment of the action franchise starring Tom Cruise opened in third with $12.79 million from just 425 mostly IMAX locations. That gave the well-received Brad Bird directed film a very strong per-location average of $30,083. Bult-in fanbase demand, a limited location count and higher priced IMAX tickets were all factors that helped the film's per-location average in a big way this weekend. When including pre-midnight grosses from Thursday night, the film's total stands at $13.39 million. This weekend's performance combined with strong early word of mouth makes Ghost Protocol the clear favorite to lead the upcoming Christmas weekend box office after it expands into wide release on Tuesday night.
The news was even better for Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol internationally, as the film opened with $68.2 million from 36 markets. Key debuts this weekend included $11.1 million in Korea, $9.0 million in Japan, $6.1 million in Russia, $5.2 million in France and $4.2 million in Australia. The film will open in additional international markets this week, including Mexico and Brazil.
Fellow Paramount release Young Adult wasn't much of a factor this weekend with a tenth place performance of $3.40 million. The Jason Reitman directed film starring Charlize Theron delivered a so-so per-location average of $3,451 from 986 locations. After an additional week of platform release, the film's total stands at $3.84 million. If Young Adult is too make any real impact at the box office it will have to hold up extremely well over an extended period of time, which will be easier said than done.
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