Yeah, Chipmunks. How do you like it when we change your words?

Another week of movies. Another week of slight disappointments. Sherlock came out on top, but both Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked came in under expectations. Neither were major letdowns but noticeable enough. Chipwrecked debuted at half of what The Squeakquel brought, while Game of Shadows made about 2/3 of what Sherlock Holmes did. This could be a good indication of the law of believed diminishing returns on the sequels, not believing they’ll get their money’s worth. In the case of Chipwrecked, it could just mean kids are getting movied out. The past few weeks have been inundated with new family features.

That gap between the two Sherlock Holmes openings is interesting, though. Is the Robert Downey Jr. shine polishing off? Doubtful. Downey’s films haven’t hit grand slams every time, and A Game of Shadows did well enough to sustain anyone involved. Longevity will be the key to the film’s ultimate success, and without a ton of competition to come in the weeks ahead, Sherlock Holmes will have a slightly open field to run.

One of the movies it’ll be running into dipped its toes in the water this weekend. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, opening on only 400 IMAX screens with a wide expansion to come this Wednesday, pulled a $30,588 per screen average for an impressive $13m weekend take. That’s just a bit South of expectations, but its still something for Paramount to be proud of. Part of this weekend’s success could be partial thanks to Warner Brothers, though. The Dark Knight Rises prologue that ran before around 40 or so IMAX prints of Ghost Protocol was surely a factor in Mission: Impossible‘s success. Probably not a lot. With growing ticket prices, people tend to shy away from buying one just to see a trailer.

The awards season is officially in full bloom with Young Adult, the latest pairing between Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, jumping to nearly 1000 screens and pulling in $3.6m for its efforts. More expansions like this are sure to come all through January with more and more Oscar contenders hitting the field. Reitman’s films have never been fast starters, always inching into expansion and pulling very impressive numbers. However, Juno‘s $143.4m domestic take might be a bit out of Young Adult’s grasp. It will still end up doing well for itself from repeat customers.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – $40m NEW
  2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – $23.5m NEW
  3. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – $13m NEW
  4. New Year’s Eve – $7.4m (-43%) $24.8m total
  5. The Sitter – $4.4m (-55.3%) $17.7m total
  6. Breaking Dawn Part 1 – $4.3m (-45%) $266.4m total
  7. Young Adult – $3.6m (+1076.4m) $4m total
  8. Hugo – $3.6m (-40.1%) $39m total
  9. Arthur Christmas – $3.6m (-44.7%) $38.5m total
  10. The Muppets – $3.4m (-50.5%) $70.9m total

$106.8m isn’t a huge downturn from the comparable weekend this time last year. At that time, Tron Legacy led the charge to $124.5m. Still, with the current crop as well as the high end movies yet to come in 2011, the box office is sure to be just fine despite a few dips here and there.

Next weekend, otherwise known as Christmas weekend, sees a huge batch of films vying for box office dollars. The Adventures of Tintin and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo hitting on Wednesday, the 21st. We Bought a Zoo follows with a 3000-screen release on Friday. Then, on Christmas day, The Darkest Hour and Steven Spielberg’s other film this week, War Horse, drop into the mix. It’s going to be an interesting Christmas week of movies.

We’ll be back on Tuesday to see how the Christmas weekend is shaping up.


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