The Reject ReportIt’s just a little one down on the small of our back. You could call it a tramp stamp, but you’d get a punch for your efforts. Oh, right, the box office. Tis the season for big hitters. Lots and lots of big hitters, and they’re all rolling out this Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday. Right, because that’s not complicated. Rather than throw darts at a wall, let’s look at these hitters one by one and see which one vies best for audience dollars.

It’s the Reject Report, and now I have a calculator, Ho Ho Ho. I think the original quote went something like that.

BIG HITTERS

First up is Mission: Impossible – Ghost ProtoHOBBIT TRAILER!

Where was I? Oh, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. David Fincher has a steady stream of moderate success going on. Both The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network debuted with $20m+, and Zodiac, his film before Benjamin Button, topped out at $33m domestic. Okay, Zodiac notwithstanding, Fincher has a very good chance of offering up another success with Dragon Tattoo. With Daniel Craig a slight factor for the Bond crowd, Dragon Tattoo could come in somewhere around $30m for the weekend. Christmas families want to see the “Feel Bad Movie of Christmas,” right?

Here’s the trailer that told us it was such. There’s also a pretty sweet song to go along with it:

The Adventures of Tintin also has a go at a full Wednesday-to-Sunday run. At already $239m worldwide, the latest from Steven Spielberg finally plants its feet on American soil, send us your poor and such. With many American audience unaware of the character, the film might not reach the heights previous CG family entertainment has set for it. Tintin will come in strong, but chances are it’ll end up somewhere between $15-16m for the weekend alone with most of its total coming on Sunday, Christmas Day. Because what do you give the grandparent who has everything. 3D. That’s what.

What else needs to be in 3D? A Wall Street Journal report on John Williams. That’s what.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol already has everyone doing their best Tom Cruise stride to the IMAX theaters. On Wednesday, that 400 screen run expands to 3400 screens nationwide, giving Ghost Protocol the edge in terms of theater count. That should be more than enough help to launch the film past $45m through Sunday.  That will knock the film’s worldwide total well past $100m. It still has a ways to go in order to beat 2000′s Mission: Impossible II‘s $215.4m domestic take, $546.3m worldwide.

We Bought a Zoo, the latest outing from Cameron Crowe, hits Friday, but there might not be a lot of moviegoers showing interest. The PG-rated, family-entertainment-about-animals-only-they-don’t-talk dramedy may draw a Christmas day crowd. In fact, opening it on Christmas Day rather than December 23rd might have been more eye-appealing on the poster. Still, the movie looks to come in between $7-8m, enough money to actually buy a zoo.

On Christmas Day, two new films hit, War Horse and The Darkest Hour, each with a completely different demographic. The older crowd, the ones who aren’t sleeping into the Christmas evening, will be drawn to the WWI movie about a spectacular horse and his adventures. Oh, joy. It’ll be big, especially being the other Spielberg joint in release. It looks to drive nearly $11m out of audiences on Christmas day.

Here’s the trailer for War Horse, featuring one of the most amazingly crafted shots of the year. Hint: it’s the first shot of this trailer:

The Darkest Hour, on the other hand, is where I’ll be. Why? Because I like aliens. That’s why. And what better kind of movie to go see on Christmas Day than a movie about people who are in worse shape than you? Okay, that’s about half of the new releases this weekend, but we’re talking about The Darkest Hour now. This calls to mind another sci-fi actioner that opened on Christmas Day. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem hit Christmas 2007 and opened to an impressive $10m. The Darkest Hour will come in around $6m, still an impressive Christmas gift for the people over at Summit Entertainment. I mean, they’re struggling after the Breaking Dawn bomb got dropped. I kid. that movie was a monster success. The Darkest Hour will…do fine.

LITTLE OPENERS

Opening in limited release on are Albert Nobbs opening in select cities on Wednesday, Don 2 opening in select cities, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close opening in select cities, In the Land of Blood and Honey opening in New York and L.A., and Pina opening in select cities. The Artist and My Week With Marilyn expand to 170 and 400 screens, respectively.

Here’s how the Christmas weekend is breaking down:

  1. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – $46.4m NEW WEDNESDAY
  2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – $32.4m NEW OPENS WEDNESDAY
  3. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – $28.1m (-28.8%)
  4. The Adventures of Tintin – $16m NEW OPENS WEDNESDAY
  5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – $15.7m (-32.3%)
  6. War Horse – $10.8m NEW OPENS SUNDAY
  7. We Bought a Zoo – $7.5m NEW
  8. The Darkest Hour – $6.5m NEW OPENS SUNDAY
  9. New Year’s Eve – $3.7m (-48.2%)
  10. The Sitter – $2.2m (-41.1%)

That amounts to $169.3m worth of turkey stuffing and mashed potatoes. There’ll be a little extra gravy for each movie on Monday, the 26th. There’s always some run-off from the weekend, movies pulling in more on a Monday than they normally would. That extra will help, but the real meat of the meal comes Friday to Sunday, when the stockings are all hung and the movie projectors are all rolling. Actually most of these are presented in digital.

Nonetheless, that $169.3m is impressive, nowhere near an Avatar or National Treasure weekend but still notable. With another weekend to go in 2011, audiences might put their movie-watching off until the last minute, but the Christmas weekend will surely grab the majority of them. For the rest of you, and them too, I guess, have a very safe and merry holiday season. Watch lots of movies.

We’ll be back on early next week to go over the weekend numbers.

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