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Tom Cruise 'Mission: Impossible 4' to Save North American Box Office?

Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Ghost Protocol
Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Ghost Protocol

Tom Cruise remains the only bright light at the North American box office as 2011 comes to a close. According to early, rough estimates found at both The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.com, apart from Cruise/Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, every mid-to-late December wide release is performing somewhere between "disappointingly" and "poorly." Among those are: Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, David Fincher/Rooney Mara/Daniel Craig's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mike Mitchell's Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked, Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin, and newcomer We Bought a Zoo, directed by Cameron Crowe, and starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson.

It's true that Christmas is generally a relatively "soft" box office holiday, but this year chances are it'll be softer than usual. Back in 2005, when Christmas Day also fell on a Sunday, Peter Jackson/Naomi Watts' King Kong, Andrew Adamson's The Chronicles of Narnia:The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Dean Parisot/Jim Carrey/Téa Leoni's Fun with Dick and Jane – the top three movies at the U.S. and Canada box office – took in a total of $55.4 million (approx. $68 million today) from Friday to Sunday. This year's top three movies – Ghost Protocol, A Game of Shadows, and Chip-Wrecked – are expected to bring in $58.9 million, of which more than half are Ghost Protocol grosses.

On its eighth day out – and third day in wide release – Ghost Protocol easily topped the chart on Friday, with an estimated $9.5 million. It's expected to gross up to $30 million by Sunday and $37 million by Monday evening.

The first live-action feature directed by Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, The Iron Giant), in addition to Tom Cruise the Ghost Protocol cast includes Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Michael Nyqvist (of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Simon Pegg, Vladimir Nashkov, Léa Seydoux, and Anil Kapoor.

Friday's no. 2 movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, earned an estimated $6.5m-7m. The Sherlock Holmes sequel, still way behind the original, is expected to collect about $16.5 million over the three-day weekend.

Supporting Robert Downey Jr in A Game of Shadows are Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly, Jared Harris, Paul Anderson, the American The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Geraldine James, and Eddie Marsan.

At no. 3, Mike Mitchell's animated feature Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked, floated back up some more on Friday, raking in an estimated $5.4 million for a three-day weekend total of $12.2 million. Nonetheless, Chip-Wrecked is still trailing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel by a wide margin: approx. $42.5 million vs. $111.99 million (on their eighth day out).

Chip-Wrecked, which cost about $80 million, features the voices and/or bodies of Jason Lee, Justin Long, Anna Faris, David Cross, Amy Poehler, Christina Applegate, and Matthew Gray Gubler.

[Continues on next page. See link below.]

Tom Cruise/Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol pic: David James / Paramount Pictures

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Tom Cruise, Ethan Hunt, Mission Impossible IV
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Following a series of disappointments and/or downright flops at the North American box office in the last several weeks, Tom Cruise has arrived (via Dubai) to save the day. Reports affirming the demise of Cruise's stardom were apparently grossly exaggerated, as Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is going to become a major global box office hit.

Following a tremendous opening at 425 IMAX screen this past weekend, which boasted a $30,083 per-theater average, Ghost Protocol easily topped the U.S. and Canada box office on Wednesday, Dec. 21, collecting $8.92 million after expanding to 3,448 locations. Its per-theater average was $2,587, well ahead of newcomer The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's $1,738, as per figures found at Box Office Mojo.

Considering that the latest Mission: Impossible movie had already blown off some steam over the weekend, that Thursday isn't a holiday, and that people this week have been busy doing some last-minute Christmas shopping, that's a remarkably solid take. Most analysts had been predicting $6 million tops on Wednesday.

For comparison's sake: Back in late May 2000 – a few years before Blu-ray technology, and before DVDs and VOD had become as commonplace as today – on opening day (pre-Memorial Day Wednesday) Mission: Impossible II grossed $12.51 million (approx. $18.5 million today) at 3,653 theaters, averaging $3,426 (approx. $5,000 today) per site. The Mission: Impossible sequel went on to cume at $215.4 million in North America and $330.97 million internationally, for a worldwide grand total of $546.38m.

After six days, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol has earned $26.01 million in North America. Additionally, Cruise's latest has raked in $95.21 million overseas. (Cruise will definitely help the North American box office, but its lasting saviors, as mentioned before on this site, are to be found in China, Russia, Australia, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, etc.) Ghost Protocol's current worldwide take is $121.27m.

The first live-action feature directed by Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, The Iron Giant), the Ghost Protocol cast also features Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Michael Nyqvist (of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Simon Pegg, Vladimir Nashkov, Léa Seydoux, and Anil Kapoor.

Tom Cruise/Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol photo: David James / Paramount Pictures

Andy Serkis, Captain Haddock, The Adventures of Tintin
Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock, The Adventures of Tintin

With Tom Cruise performing impossible stunts in Brad Bird's live-action Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Tintin's motion-captured stunts in Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn may look a tad less compelling. At least in English-speaking North America.

Whereas The Adventures of Tintin has grossed $239 million overseas, in the U.S. and Canada the adventure tale featuring the intrepid Belgian hero opened with a disappointing $2.3 million on Wednesday, Dec. 21, according to figures found at Box Office Mojo. (Tintin had already earned about $3.2 million in Quebec, where it opened on Dec. 9.) Tintin's top foreign market is France, where it has pulled in $53m; it's currently the fourth biggest 2011 release in that country, after local box office hits The Intouchables and Nothing to Declare, and David Yates/Daniel Radcliffe/Ralph Fiennes' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Co-produced by Peter Jackson, The Adventures of Tintin features Jamie Bell as Tintin, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Cary Elwes, Toby Jones, and Nick Frost.

At no. 6, Garry Marshall's New Year's Eve brought in $1.05m. The all-star omnibus comedy-drama stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Josh Duhamel, Hilary Swank, and others.

At no. 7, Sarah Smith/James McAvoy's Arthur Christmas drew $667k, while Amy Adams/Jason Segel's The Muppets added $586k at no. 8. They were followed by Jonah Hill's The Sitter with $553k at no. 9.

At no. 10, Bill Condon's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is the only movie among the top ten to have been out for more than 30 days. Starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, Breaking Dawn 1 raked in $515k. Total to date: $268.19m.

The extensive Breaking Dawn cast includes Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Dakota Fanning, MyAnna Buring, Booboo Stewart, and Michael Sheen.

Plus Maggie Grace, Lee Pace, Sarah Clarke, Anna Kendrick, Christian Serratos, Christopher Heyerdahl, Michael Welch, Christian Camargo, Julia Jones, Gil Birmingham, Kiowa Gordon, Billy Burke, Bronson Pelletier, Charlie Bewley, Tyson Houseman, Daniel Cudmore, Jamie Campbell Bower, Casey LaBow, Mia Maestro, and Alex Meraz.

The Adventures of Tintin picture: Paramount Pictures.

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