‘Mission Impossible’ Leads North America Holiday Movies With $26.5 Million

“Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” was the top U.S. and Canadian film over the holiday weekend, taking in $26.5 million for Paramount Pictures as Hollywood prepared to close out a second year of falling sales.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” from Sony Corp. (6758), was fourth with $13 million in its debut, Hollywood.com’s box-office unit said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” was fifth with $9.13 million. Sales at U.S. and Canadian cinemas this year have fallen 4.5 percent to $9.9 billion, the film researcher said.

End-of-year films, which also include a new Sherlock Holmes movie and Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” failed to generate enough business to erase a drop from last year’s $10.6 billion in sales. Studios have struggled to attract audiences to a 2011 lineup filled with sequels and a record 36 movies in 3-D.

“You started off with an awful first quarter, and that was just a case of bad content,” said Martin Pyykkonen, an analyst with Wedge Partners Group, an independent equity-analysis group based in Greenwood Village, Colorado.

“‘Green Hornet’ was the biggest example,” he said. “The other problem was during the summer, you just had a lot of crowding of good films that just couldn’t get enough breathing room.”

In “Ghost Protocol,” the fourth “Mission Impossible” film, Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, leader of an elite special-operations squad that takes on the government’s most difficult assignments.

‘Dragon Tattoo’

This time, team members go underground to clear their names after being falsely implicated in a bombing at the Kremlin. The movie also features Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg.

The film opened Dec. 16 for an exclusive, five-day run in large-screen theaters, including 300 Imax Corp. (IMAX) locations, before moving to wide release on Dec. 21. The first three films generated $1.4 billion in global ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo, another film researcher.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” features Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, a computer-hacker employed by a security firm. She joins with a journalist, played by Daniel Craig, to investigate a chain of homicides. The film is an English- language remake of a Swedish adaption of the novel by Stieg Larsson.

‘Tintin’

“Tintin,” Spielberg’s adaption of the comic books by Belgian author Herge, tells the story of an intrepid young journalist who tries to unravel the mystery surrounding a lost treasure. The computer-animated film features the voices of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig.

The distributor, Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, opened the film in October in parts of Europe and on Dec. 21 in the U.S. and Canada. It had $247 million in worldwide sales before the weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

“All the films have fallen victim to a slow marketplace, and that particularly affected the newcomers,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com’s box office division, in a telephone interview. “We virtually had zero momentum heading into Christmas.”

Ticket revenue for 2011 will just “limp over” the $10 billion mark, he said.

‘Chipwrecked’

Among returning films, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” dropped to second from first with $17.8 million. Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the cerebral sleuth created by novelist Arthur Conan Doyle. This time, Holmes and his sidekick Dr. John Watson match wits with arch-criminal Moriarty, who plots to create an arms race among European military powers. Jude Law plays Watson and Jared Harris portrays Moriarty.

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” from News Corp. (NWSA)’s Fox studio, finished third. The story of singing chipmunks marooned on a seemingly deserted tropical island had sales of $13.3 million.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films fell 26 percent to $100.5 million from a year earlier, Hollywood.com said. Attendance is down 5.3 percent. The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 and estimates for yesterday.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 MISSION IMPOSSIBLE   $26.5   3,448   $7,696   --    $59.0   1
2 SHERLOCK HOLMES       17.8   3,703    4,807   -55    76.6   2
3 ALVIN AND CHIPMUNKS   13.3   3,734    3,569   -43    50.3   2
4 GIRL DRAGON TATOO     13.0   2,914    4,461   --     21.4   1
5 ADVENTURES OF TINTIN   9.1   3,087    2,956   --     17.1   1
6 WE BOUGHT A ZOO        7.8   3,117    2,502   --      7.8   1
7 NEW YEAR’S EVE         3.0   2,585    1,162   -59    32.3   3
8 ARTHUR CHRISTMAS       2.7   1,804    1,497   -24    44.2   5
9 HUGO                   2.03  1,236    1,638   -45    43.7   5
10 THE MUPPETS           2.00  1,752    1,143   -43    75.6   5
11 THE DESCENDANTS       1.7     813    2,109   -48    32.0   6
12 YOUNG ADULT           1.5     987    1,494   -57     6.9   3


  This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $100.5       $135.3        -26


Year-to-date Revenue:

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
   $9,914.6     $10,376.9      -4.5


Year-to-date Attendance:      -5.3%

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.