Box Office: Tom Cruise Risks Life To Be Popular Again in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Message to aging action stars struggling to re-claw their former popularity... just do an insanely dangerous stunt off the end of a mile and a half tall building and people will flock to see you again.

For the second week in a row and securing the box office crown for the last weekend in 2011, "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" was the popular choice with cinemagoers during the holiday break, earning an impressive $34.1 million, surpassing last week's total by 6%. The fourth film in the Tom Cruise led action franchise has earned $134.1 million domestically, which beats out the last film in the franchise after just 17 days of release and Paramount now has in sight the first picture's $180 million domestic total. Though when all is said and done it won't be Ethan Hunt's biggest hit as it will probably come short on the sequel's $215 million. Worldwide the numbers are strong too, MI:4 has crossed the $300 million mark and before the month is out should have passed $400 million. As usual, the Ethan Hunt character has proved to be a big success for the otherwise box office suspect Tom Cruise and these days it is by far his biggest draw. The film is a big success and Paramount should pat themselves on the back for making the left-field choice of giving the lauded Pixar animation director Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles) the reigns because his fast-paced and exhilarating direction is the reason for the positive word-of-mouth and for the screenwriters/Cruise/Bird in coming up with the Dubai stunt that is no doubt the biggest selling point of the film. Message to aging action stars struggling to re-claw their former popularity... just do an insanely dangerous stunt off the end of a mile and a half tall building and people will flock to see you again. Another blockbuster sequel this festive season that is gaining an audience is "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" which improved on last week's numbers by 9%, earning an estimated $22.1 million for an overall $132 million total. Guy Ritchie's movie should reach or at least come very close to the original's $209 million figure and the sustaining of an audience means it is likely to get the trilogy entry soon enough. Warner Bros have already commissioned a script that will likely reunite Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law and director Ritchie, though the latter will probably make a picture in between this time with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. franchise to be kicked off next year under his stewardship. No doubt WB will be hoping to get at least one of Downey Jr/Law interested in that series too. With the kids on holiday and obviously getting bored by their presents quite quickly, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" almost improved on its audience by half for a $18.3 million haul, $94.6 million in total. The film will no doubt cross $100 million today... a really, really sad state of affairs. But then, it is the only out and out children's film of the festive season currently playing in theatres so its popularity is no real surprise. Finishing the weekend in fourth place is Steven Spielberg's WWI Oscar hopeful drama "War Horse" that enjoyed a great weekend boost (it was languishing as low as seventh place midweek) and nabbing fourth spot for $16.94 million. After eight days on release that results to $42.97 million and sometime this week it will surpass Spielberg's Munich ($47.4 million) and word of mouth seems to be strong. Sony's remake of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is staying in there and could hit $60 million by the end of play today. This, coupled with a good worldwide haul, should see a franchise greenlight from this mainstream material. It may not quite be the quick rush to $100 million that Sony were perhaps expecting, especially on the backs of David Fincher's biggest Awards, Critics and Public success with The Social Network and the gigantic popularity of the Steig Larsson book (if anywhere near the amount of people who had read the damn thing got off their ass and into the theatres this one would have blown the roof off) but it is by no means a failure. Another film improving on strong word-of-mouth is Cameron Crowe's "We Bought A Zoo" that struggled on its opening weekend but gained 53% of its audience this weekend to $14.3 million. That is $41.3 million in total so far, much more closer to the kind of haul 20th Century Fox would have been expecting by now. Spielberg's other movie on release The Adventures of Tintin just hasn't been an audience winner in the US. It has made $47.8 million domestically in total after earning $12 million this weekend, an improvement on last week but the property remains firmly European. Worldwide it has taken almost $300 million. "New Year's Eve" of course was helped by it's manufactured release to get a second wind holiday boost and doubled its weekend tally to $6.7 million but now that 2012 is here, few will likely turn up to see a film based on that holiday. In the end, New Year's Eve just isn't as big a couples movie holiday as Valentine's Day and it needs to double its $46.4 million if it is to come even close to Valentine's Day $110.5 million domestic haul. Elsewhere, the Christmas day release for "The Darkest Hour" has proved to be problematic and it has struggled to make an impact, coming it at 9 with a small screen average. Better news for "The Descendants" which made its way back into the top ten and catching on again with the public will certainly do no harm when it comes to Oscar time. The movie should cross $40 million domestic today. In order to be eligible for Oscar consideration 'The Iron Lady' was quietly released on four locations and has taken a whopping $55,000 per screen average that results in $221k total. The Americans fascination with the British politics and history looks set to continue and despite the film not being all that, The Weinsteins should have a popular release on their hands. Other movies aimed at an older American audience that are doing well include 'The Artist" that should now pass $5 million and the $20k per screen performance of "Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy" that has pulled in $1.2 million from 57 locations. 1. Mission: Impossible: Ghost: Protocol: Colon: Part: Four (Paramount) - $31.2 million ($134 mil. domestically) 2. Sherlock Holmes: We€™re Already At The Movies, Might As Well Watch Something (Warner Bros.) - $22 million ($132 mil.) 3. Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Fox) - $18.2 million ($94 mil.) 4. War Horse (Disney) - $16.9 million ($42.9 mil.) 5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Sony) - $16.3 million ($57 million) 6. Animals + Matt Damon = Movie (Fox) - $14.2 million ($41.7 mil.) 7. The Adventures of Tintin (Paramount) - $12 million ($47 mil.) 8. New Years Eve (Warner Bros.) - $6.7 million ($46 mil.) 9. The Darkest Timeline (Summit) - $4.3 million ($13 mil.) 10. The Descendants (Fox) - $3.7 million ($40 mil.)
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.