Box office preview: 'Mission: Impossible' won't lose its grip over New Year's weekend

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Image Credit: David James

With no new wide releases this New Year’s weekend, the box office is going to look very much like it did over the Christmas weekend. In fact, a number of movies may perform a little bit better this weekend due to the fact that Christmas Eve, a typically slow day at the box office, landed on a Saturday last week. Furthermore, since 893 movies were released the last couple of weeks, audiences should be eager to catch up with the many films they haven’t seen yet.

Here are my predictions for the three-day weekend (Friday to Sunday):

1. Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol: $29 million

The fourth Mission: Impossible entry topped the box office last weekend with $29.5 million and has so far collected an impressive $94.6 million, effectively rejuvenating Tom Cruise’s reputation as an action movie star. With a solid “A-” rating from CinemaScore audiences, positive reviews from critics, and increased ticket prices from IMAX theaters, Ghost Protocol should virtually duplicate its Christmas weekend gross. If it does that, the PG-13 movie will have cumulatively tallied $132 million by Sunday night. And by the end of Monday, it’ll have likely passed the $134 million domestic total of Mission: Impossible III.

2. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: $21 million

A Game of Shadows has so far been trailing its predecessor by a sizable amount — the 2009 original had collected $146.6 million its first 13 days, compared to $103.7 million for this year’s sequel. Nevertheless, A Game of Shadows has been holding up well during the week, and like Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, it should have no trouble matching its $20.3 million gross from last weekend.

3. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked: $17 million

Family films often benefit the most during the week after Christmas. Most kids are still out of school, and with the holiday festivities finished, parents are searching for ways to keep the little ones entertained a few more days. That bodes well for Chipwrecked, which actually managed to steal second place from Sherlock Holmes on Wednesday. Expect a 35 percent increase from last weekend.

4. War Horse: $15 million

Steven Spielberg’s WWI epic opened on Christmas Day to a sturdy $7.5 million. In its first four days of release, it has so far galloped to $22.4 million. And with an “A-” CinemaScore and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture, the PG-13 movie should be receiving good word of mouth. The film has been attracting mostly older moviegoers, as 79 percent of its audience was at least 25 years old. It’ll be interesting to see whether War Horse starts playing more as a family film in the weeks to come.

5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: $14 million

The David Fincher adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novel debuted to a somewhat disappointing $12.8 million last weekend, but earned a glowing “A” grade from CinemaScore audiences. Like War Horse, the R-rated thriller is skewing toward older viewers, with 69 percent of its audience at least 25 years old. Many moviegoers may have opted for the mindless excitement of the Mission: Impossible and Sherlock Holmes films last weekend, saving the more challenging (and sexually graphic) Tattoo for this weekend.

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