Weekend Box Office: Sherlock Holmes Underperforms, While Mission: Impossible Gets An IMAX Boost

After two of the lowest grossing weekends of the year, you would think that Hollywood would get a sizable rebound thanks to Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Though, some tend to forget that previous entries in those series opened in the aftermath of James Cameron’s Avatar. Back in 2009, a barefist-fighting sleuth without a suit of iron and singing chipmunks were choices two and three when it came to going to the movies. With Avatar as the dominant attraction, sold out showings allowed crowds to flow into Sherlock Holmes and Alvin in the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel instead. Such isn’t the case this weekend.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows took the weekend with ease, but with an estimated three-day haul of $40 million it will finish well short of the first film’s opening take of $62 million. Considering that the advertising really didn’t offer much of a plot synopsis, and the filmmakers failed to get a star in the role of Holmes’ nemesis, Moriarty (Mad Men‘s Jared Harris occupies the role that was once rumored going to be played by Brad Pitt), you pretty much got a repeat of the first film, with a few added touches. If there is indeed going to be a Sherlock 3 it would be best to avoid having Dermot Mulroney’s brother as the scribe again. Perhaps producer Joel Silver should get Shane Black to pen. Or do a re-write at the very least.

Sherlock Holmes is one of those interesting film properties. The original was passable as entertainment but aggravating at times. The sequel is no different. Robert Downey and Jude Law have great chemistry together, with Downey as Whackadoodle Holmes and Law as Dr. “I’m getting too old for this shit” Watson. However, with A Game of Shadows the filmmakers have included some ancillary characters that don’t offer much to the film.

The Christmas holiday season is supposed to help bolster box office numbers thanks to films getting massive openings. Years past we’ve had the like of the already mentioned Avatar and I Am Legend. The first Alvin and the Chipmunks became a $371 million worldwide hit, but now with three Chipmunks films in five years is just overkill. The mentality is that one box office hit will spawn a sequel. And the success of that sequel is likely to spawn another sequel. Maybe this year parents finally learned how to say no when it came to seeing movies where the Chipmunks perform renditions of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and The Go-Gos.

In an interesting release strategy, Paramount Pictures decided to debut Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol on 425 IMAX screens. The film totally dominated the per-screen average of all films in the top 10 with $30.5k and it made $13 million overall. Some of that total amount was due to Batman fans who purchased a ticket to Ghost Protocol to see the six-minute The Dark Knight Rises teaser attached. It still seems odd that Warner Bros. would attach the prologue to its most anticipated 2012 blockbuster in front of a Paramount release, but when WB made the decision to not project Sherlock Holmes 2 in IMAX it allowed Ghost Protocol to occupy that spot.

With Ghost Protocol already getting the best reviews out of the Mission: Impossible series, it will be interesting to see how well it does when it expands beyond IMAX screens without the The Dark Knight Rises prologue. In the coming days it will have to compete against The Adventures Of Tintin (Steven Spielberg’s animated release is tracking low), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo and War Horse.

So what happened to last week’s #1 and #2, New Year’s Eve and The Sitter? They took massive hits. The holiday themed romantic anthology release lost 43% of its audience while Jonah Hill’s Disasters in Babysitting saw a 55% drop in attendance. Look for these at your local Wal-Mart by March. And it looks like you can take a stake to vampire Edward, as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One looks to finish its domestic run in a few weeks. Twi-hards will have to come to grips knowing that it won’t make it to $300 million stateside. However, overseas its nearing $700 million.

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo didn’t get much of a Golden Globes boost and should struggle to make more than $50 million domestic. Jason Reitman’s Young Adult saw expansion to 978 theaters after its debut on eight screens last week. Paramount would have been better off cutting the expansion in half, as the dark comedy only saw $3.7 million in returns. Either audiences just don’t like Diablo Cody or weren’t in the mood to see Charlize Theron to play a real Scrooge. Aardman’s Arthur Christmas and The Muppets are still hanging around at the bottom of the top 10 but should be gone with the bombardment of new releases from Dec. 21 through Christmas.

In biggest limited release, well besides Mission: Impossible, this week was Carnage, which dropped on to five screens and collected $86k. A good number, but nowhere as good as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which earned $452k at 16 locations. Cook County, a film I saw way back in 2009, finally got distribution and brought in $8.1k from five locations. The Artist continues to pick up steam heading into the Golden Globes (it received the most nominations) earning $287k at 15 locations.

1. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Sequels – $40 million

2. Yes, We Greenlighted a Third Alvin and the Chipmunks – $23.5 million

3. Mission: Impossible – Patrick Swayze Protocol – $13 million

4. New Year’s Eve – $7.4 million ($25 million)

5. How Not To Babysit – $4.4 million ($17.7 million)

6. The Twilight Saga: Just One More To Go – $4.3 million ($647 million worldwide)

7. Young Adult – $3.7 million ($4 million)

8. Hugo – $3.7 million ($39 million)

9. Feliz Navidad, Arthur – $3.6 million ($38.5 million)

10. The Muppets – $3.5 million ($71 million)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,