Sherlock Holmes Solves Weekend Box Office Victory with $40 Million

Sherlock Holmes Solves Weekend Box Office Victory with $40 MillionA trio of sequels landed over the weekend to help pump life into a dormant North American box office. Warner’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked bowed with okay numbers, but trailed behind their predecessors by a wide margin. Paramount’s Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol opened on a limited amount of IMAX screens in advance of its wide release on Wednesday to fantastic numbers. Despite the openings of these three sequels, the box office blahs continued as the top ten was down 14% from last year at this time when TRON: Legacy debuted, and down 15% from 2009 when Avatar began its conquest of the global box office.

Released on Christmas Day in 2009, Warner’s Sherlock Holmes opened to a massive $62 opening weekend en route to a $209 million domestic final haul with another $324 million in international sales. Given the original’s success, a sequel was a given and that has arrived as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The $145 million Guy Ritchie-directed follow up arrived on 3,703 screens this weekend to the tune of an estimated $40 million and a great $10,807 per screen average.

While the opening was promising, it was a good 36% below the opening of the original two years ago. Reviews for the second big screen adventure of Holmes and Watson (Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, respectively) were mixed, earning an okay 61% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (the original earned a 70% approval rating). The film should play just fine throughout the upcoming holiday period and even better overseas, but chances are pretty good that it will earn considerably less than its predecessor.

Twentieth Century Fox has had remarkable (some may say inexplicable) success with its two Alvin and the Chipmunks films it released in 2007 and 2009. Each film has opened in the mid-to-high $40 million range and each wound up with a final domestic gross near the $220 million mark.

Despite opening the same weekend as the 2007 original the latest round of Alvin, Simon and Theodore, Chipwrecked didn’t hit the same highs as the other films. Debuting on 3,723 screens, Chipwrecked earned a decent $23.5 million and a per screen average of $6,312. Just like the first two movies, Chipwrecked was torn a new one by the nation’s critics. But just like those first two movies, people could care less about what critics had to say. Despite the soft opening, the movie should pick up considerable steam over the next two weekends as kids begin to head out of school to begin their year-end break.

Paramount had to be anything but disappointed with the spectacular opening from the latest Mission: Impossible entry, Ghost Protocol. Marking the first time a big-budget movie opened exclusively in IMAX theaters (425 to be precise), the critically-acclaimed fourth chapter (95% approval on Rotten Tomatoes) of the Tom Cruise series earned a whopping $13.6 million for a great per screen average of $30,588. The film opened on the large-screen format in advance of its nationwide release this upcoming Wednesday. In a small number of those theaters, the film also had the benefit of having the six-minute prologue to next summer’s The Dark Knight Rises attached to it as well. Overseas, the movie earned a great $68 million from 36 markets.

After bowing at the number one spot last weekend to an underwhelming $1.53 million, Warner’s New Years Eve celebrated 43% less this weekend to earn an estimated $7.4 million on 3,505 screens to bring its ten-day estimated total of $24.8 million. With Christmas and New Year’s Day coming up, the film might be able to stabilize itself to bring its total near the $50 million mark by the end of its run.

The other non-starter from last weekend, Fox’s The Sitter, fell a steep 55% in its sophomore session to earn an estimated $4.7 million to bring its ten-day total to a weak $17.7 million. Depending on a holiday boost, the film might be able to eke out $27-30 million in sales.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Summit Entertainment) $4.3 million (off 45% from last weekend) $267 million to date.

7. Young Adult (Paramount) $3.5 million (first weekend of wide release) $4 million.

8. Hugo (Parmount) $3.6 million (-40%) $39 million

9. Arthur Christmas (Sony Pictures) $3.6 million (-45%) $38.5 million

10. The Muppets (Disney) $3.5 million (-51%) $71 million

Wednesday sees a surge of big holiday films for the Christmas week: Sony releases The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Paramount will expand Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and debut The Adventures of Tin Tin on the same day. Friday will see the debut of Fox’s We Bought a Zoo while Christmas Day will see the arrival of Dreamworks’ War Horse and Summit’s The Darkest Hour.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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