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'Game of Shadows' Way Behind 'Sherlock Holmes'

Robert Downey Jr, Noomi Rapace, Sherlock Holmes 2 A Game of Shadows
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows with Noomi Rapace, Robert Downey Jr.

Dec. 18, '11, update: Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows hasn't exactly “saved” the North American box office despite the estimated $40.02 million it earned (or rather, is earning) this weekend at 3,703 locations, including $1.25 million from Thursday midnight screenings. In fact, A Game of Shadows failed to shake things up because it earned slightly over $40 million. After all, the original Sherlock Holmes collected $62.3 million on Christmas weekend 2009 (admittedly, when people were out of school/work) and last week's predictions had A Game of Shadows bringing in anywhere between $55 and $60 million.

I'm not sure if many have used the word “flop” in reference to a movie that grossed $40 million over the course of three days. But unless things pick up dramatically next weekend and the following one – Monday as a holiday should help things some – A Game of Shadows will be just that – a flop – at the domestic box office.

The Sherlock Holmes sequel cost a reported $125 million, or about one third more than the original Sherlock Holmes. Even while ignoring tens of millions spent on marketing and distribution, in order for Warner Bros. to recoup its investment at the domestic box office A Game of Shadows would have to rake in around $235-$250 million in the United States and Canada. How many believe that will happen? How many believe Sherlock Holmes 2 will reach, say, $150 million?

The original Sherlock Holmes went on to gross $209.02 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to $315 million overseas. Its worldwide total was $524.02 million.

Reviewers, for their part, have hardly been enthusiastic about the sequel. A Game of Shadows has a mediocre 46 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. For all that is worth, the film does have an “A-” CinemaScore rating.

Now, for the real good news: A Game of Shadows has earned $14.5 million abroad after opening in a mere six territories, with most major ones (e.g., Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Brazil, Spain) yet to come. Moral of the story: At least for now, if you're looking for a Mighty Savior to rescue the dainty North American box office – down this weekend about 12 percent from last year – don't look for any one particular movie. Look overseas – for other countries.

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

Also underperforming – especially compared to its predecessor – is Mike Mitchell's animated feature Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked, which collected an estimated $23.5 million at no. 2 over the weekend, as per Box Office Mojo. Back on Christmas 2009, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel pulled in $48.87 million on its debut weekend. At that time, the Chipmunks even surpassed James Cameron's mighty Avatar on their first day out, Dec. 23.

The latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, which cost approximately $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. Movie reviewers have overwhelmingly disliked it. Chip-Wrecked has a sinking 12 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

Things overseas haven't been all that great, either. In 38 territories (including Spain and the UK), Chip-wrecked has earned $14.5 million, or slightly less than A Game of Shadows in a mere 6 markets. But since this is a kiddie flick, business should pick up considerably during the holiday season. The Squeakquel went on to gross $443.14 million worldwide; the first Alvin and Chipmunks (2007) took in $361.33 million.

Ah, and before anyone comes up with the nonsensical idea that Americans and Canadians have gotten tired of sequels in 2011, check out the list of biggest blockbusters of the year. The top seven movies are all sequels: Daniel Radcliffe/Ralph Fiennes/Emma Watson's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Michael Bay/Shia LaBeouf/Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart/Taylor Lautner's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, Todd Phillips/Bradley Cooper/Zach Galifianakis' The Hangover Part II, Johnny Depp/Penélope Cruz's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Justin Lin/Paul Walker/Vin Diesel's Fast Five, and John Lasseter's Cars 2.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows photo: Daniel Smith / Warner Bros.

Dec. 17

Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Jude Law as Dr. Watson, Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Not unexpectedly, following its relatively weak Thursday midnight opening – $1.25 million at about 1,600 locations – the Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr period actioner Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is trailing its predecessor by a large margin. Whereas the 2009 Sherlock Holmes opened with $62.3 million on Christmas weekend (admittedly, when people are out of school/work), A Game of Shadows is expected to collect a mere $42.4 million at 3,703 locations – after grossing $16 million on Friday (including the midnight screenings) according to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com. So much for Sherlock Holmes 2 helping to save the North American box office from its current morass.

Now, the low forties figure isn't exactly good news for distributor Warner Bros. A Game of Shadows' budget is reportedly around $125 million, about one third more than that of the original Sherlock Holmes.

Reviewers, for their part, have hardly been enthusiastic about the sequel. A Game of Shadows has a mediocre 46 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. If the domestic word of mouth is as bad as the reviews, A Game of Shadows' only hope will be the international market – the true (offsite) savior of the North American box office.

The original Sherlock Holmes went on to gross $209.02 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to $315 million overseas. Its worldwide total was $524.02 million.

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

Also underperforming – especially compared to its predecessor – is Mike Mitchell's animated feature Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked, which is expected to collect about $25.8 million over the weekend after an estimated $7.1 million at 3,723 locations on Friday. Back on Christmas 2009, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel pulled in $48.87 million on its debut weekend. At that time, the Chipmunks even surpassed James Cameron's mighty Avatar on their first day out, Dec. 23.

The latest Alvin and the Chipmunks annoyance features the voices and/or bodies of Jason Lee, Justin Long, Anna Faris, David Cross, Amy Poehler, Christina Applegate, and Matthew Gray Gubler. Fed up movie reviewers have overwhelmingly disliked it. Chip-Wrecked has a sinking 12 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows photo: Daniel Smith / Warner Bros.

Tom Cruise, Ghost Protocol, Ethan Hunt, Simon Pegg
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.)

Also in the Ghost Protocol cast: Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Michael Nyqvist (of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Simon Pegg, Vladimir Nashkov, Léa Seydoux, and Anil Kapoor.

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 'Ludacri's 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 $300 million 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

Dec. 16

Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

The North American box office is in the doldrums. Receipts last weekend were the lowest since September 2008 (unadjusted for inflation), while attendance figures – if reports are to be believed – are at their lowest since September 2001, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington. (Note: those attendance comparisons are iffier than usual, as they're using 3D-inflated 2011 movie-ticket price averages to compare with basically 3D-less pre-2009 averages – when last weekend's top three movies, Garry Marshall/Zac Efron/Michelle Pfeiffer/etc.'s New Year's Eve, Jonah Hill's The Sitter, and Bill Condon/Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart/Taylor Lautner's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 were all in “2D.”)

Anyhow, Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Brad Bird/Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and Mike Mitchell's animated feature Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked are expected to “save” the North American box office from itself by injecting action, pathos, humor, and originality into the mix. Well, skip the originality part – at least in terms of branding. All three potential box office saviors are sequels.

Things started out well for Tom Cruise, whose $140 million-budgeted Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol grossed $1.1 million at only 425 locations midnight Thursday. That's about as much as – not adjusted for inflation – Mission: Impossible III earned in 2006 at 2,000 sites. Helping matters some were previews of Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale's The Dark Knight Rises at a few dozen or so IMAX locations.

Also in the Ghost Protocol cast: Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Michael Nyqvist (of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Simon Pegg, Vladimir Nashkov, Léa Seydoux, and Anil Kapoor.

Budgeted at $150 million, Paramount's Mission: Impossible III ultimately grossed a relatively disappointing $134.02 million at the North American box office, which led to wildly exaggerated media speculation that Tom Cruise's career was in as bad a shape as the current North American box office. Never mind the fact that the third installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise went on to gross $263.82 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $397.85 million – the eighth biggest blockbuster that year. Not bad for a flop that even led Viacom (Paramount's parent company) head Sumner Redstone to get all nasty and publicly berate Cruise for his Oprah Winfrey and Brooke Shields antics.

Considerably less successful on midnight Thursday was Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, starring Downey Jr, Jude Law, and the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace, which opened with $1.25 million at 1,650 screens. Back in late December 2009, the original Sherlock Holmes opened with $62.3 million. Expect A Game of Shadows to open quite a bit more modestly. Box Office Mojo has it pegged at $59.8 million; perhaps it'll reach that high, but I'd surprised if the Ritchie-Downey Jr movie-movie passes $50 million, let alone $55 million.

A Game of Shadows also features Rachel McAdams, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly, Jared Harris, Paul Anderson, Geraldine James, and Eddie Marsan.

Since Ghost Protocol is opening at only 425 theaters, Chip-Wrecked will land in second place with grosses in the $25-$30 million range. The latest Alvin and the Chipmunks annoyance features the voices and/or bodies of Jason Lee, Justin Long, Anna Faris, David Cross, Amy Poehler, Christina Applegate, and Matthew Gray Gubler.

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

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4 Comments to 'Game of Shadows' Way Behind 'Sherlock Holmes'

  1. ritu

    Despite the festival season Breaking Dawn Part I indeed did a rocking business worldwide .It tuled the box office for straight 5 weeks with all the competitors way behind.

  2. Krista

    You are wrong about Breaking Dawn reachin the 300 million mark being impossible! Breaking Dawn reached $312 million is its first week! Overall the movie has made $400 million or over!

  3. Jiyalin

    I saw this movie! Tom Cruise is amazing

  4. Bettybmusing

    Once again truth wins the day. Some people just can't handle box office bottom-line truth. :-)