Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The silver lining at the North American box office this weekend is the Brad Bird/Tom Cruise $140 million-budgeted combo Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which has raked in an impressive, IMAX-boosted $4.6 million – including $1 million from Thursday midnight showings – at only 425 locations (300 of which IMAX theaters). As per The Hollywood Reporter, Ghost Protocol should bring in $12 million by Sunday evening. If so, that would represent an outstanding, even considering the IMAX surcharges, $28,400 per-theater average.
For comparison's sake, Mission: Impossible III earned $47.74 million at 4,054 theaters in July 2006 (approx. $58 million today), averaging $11,776 per site (approx. $14,000 today). At a little more than one tenth of the number of theaters, Ghost Protocol is expected to take in more than one fifth of the inflation-adjusted gross of its predecessor. Even taking the IMAX surcharges into account, that's quite impressive.
Admittedly, the eagerly anticipated previews of Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale's Warner Bros.-distributed The Dark Knight Rises at several dozen IMAX locations didn't hinder matters any for Paramount's Ghost Protocol.
Budgeted at $150 million, Mission: Impossible III ultimately grossed a relatively disappointing $134.02 million at the North American box office. Overseas, however, the third installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise fared much better, earning $263.82 million. Its worldwide total was $397.85 million – the eighth biggest that year. Not bad for a flop that even led Viacom (Paramount's parent company) head Sumner Redstone to publicly berate Cruise for his Oprah Winfrey and Brooke Shields antics. (Cruise's crass, vulgar Les Grossman is an obvious – and quite funny – Redstone parody.)
Last weekend's top movie, New Year's Eve, was down two spots with about $2.4 million at no. 3 on Friday, and an estimated $7.7 million for the weekend. If those estimates are correct, after ten days (including two weekends), New Year's Eve will have earned less than half (about $25m) than its all-star predecessor, Valentine's Day.
Directed by Garry Marshall, New Year's Eve stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Cary Elwes, Alyssa Milano, Common, Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Sarah Paulson, Til Schweiger, Carla Gugino, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Sofia Vergara, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, James Belushi, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Josh Duhamel, Penny Marshall, Cherry Jones, Hilary Swank, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Hector Elizondo, and Ryan Seacrest.
Now ahead of Jonah Hill's The Sitter, Bill Condon's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, collected an estimated $1.3 million in fifth place. Breaking Dawn is expected to gross $4.2 million over the weekend, for a domestic cume of $266.4 million – the third biggest of the year in North America. If those early estimates are correct, Breaking Dawn will be down a relatively modest (for the Twilight series) 46 percent despite the loss of about 650 theaters. The $300m mark seems out of reach, but Breaking Dawn will possibly cume at $285m-$290m, as predicted on opening weekend.
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.
Tom Cruise/Simon Pegg/Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol photo: David James / Paramount Pictures