‘Mission Impossible’ Sequel Leads in North America Film Sales Over Weekend

“Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” was the top U.S. and Canadian film over the New Year’s weekend, collecting $31.3 million for Paramount Pictures and closing out a tough year at home for Hollywood.

With no new movies in wide release, the fourth film in the series featuring Tom Cruise coasted to a No. 1 finish in its third week in cinemas, Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” came in second with $22.1 million, while “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” collected $18.3 million.

“Ghost Protocol” helped propel Viacom Inc. (VIA/B)’s Paramount to first place for the year in U.S. cinemas, according to Box Office Mojo, another researcher. The studio’s 2011 total of $1.86 billion in domestic sales through Dec. 25 topped 2010’s full-year tally of $1.73 billion. It also marked a bright spot in a year when overall U.S. attendance shrank and sales fell.

The industry’s revenue woes were tied to “three things: It’s the movies themselves, it’s the economy and it’s all the competing technology,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office division of Hollywood.com.

“We’ll find out in 2012” whether studios can offset the latter two issues with potentially better movies and new marketing tactics, he said.

Elementary, Watson

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

In “Sherlock Holmes,” Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the cerebral sleuth created by novelist Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes and sidekick Dr. John Watson match wits with arch- criminal Moriarty, who plots to create an arms race among European powers. Jude Law plays Watson and Jared Harris portrays Moriarty in the film from Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Bros.

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” from News Corp. (NWSA)’s Fox studio, has emerged as the top family film after three weeks of release. The movie is the third in a series of animated pictures since 2007 that has generated $916 million in worldwide theatrical sales through Dec. 28, according to Box Office Mojo.

‘War Horse’

In the latest installment, the singing chipmunks are marooned on a seemingly deserted tropical island. The picture has taken in $94.6 million since its Dec. 16 release.

Among other returning films, Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” collected $16.9 million to finish in fourth place for the director’s DreamWorks Studios and Walt Disney Co. (DIS), the distributor.

“War Horse” traces the friendship of a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert against the backdrop of World War I. The film follows the horse as he moves through the war with British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter.

Spielberg’s other holiday entry, “The Adventures of Tintin,” brought in $12 million in its second week of release to finish in seventh place.

Dragon Tattoo

Finishing fifth was “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” from Sony Corp. (6758) with $16.3 million in its second week. Rooney Mara stars 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.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 1.5 percent to $150.9 million from a year earlier, Hollywood.com said. For the year, revenue fell 3.4 percent while attendance dropped 4.2 percent. The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Dec. 30 and Dec. 31 and estimates for yesterday.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 MISSION IMPOSSIBLE   $31.3   3,455   $9,045   6    $134.1   3
2 SHERLOCK HOLMES       22.1   3,703    5,967   9     132.1   3
3 ALVIN AND CHIPMUNKS   18.3   3,724    4,901   45     94.6   3
4 WAR HORSE             16.9   2,547    6,651   125    43.0   2
5 GIRL DRAGON TATTOO    16.3   2,914    5,594   28     57.1   2
6 WE BOUGHT A ZOO       14.3   3,163    4,521   53     41.8   2
7 ADVENTURES OF TINTIN  12.0   3,087    3,887   24     47.8   2
8 NEW YEAR’S EVE         6.7   2,225    3,016   103    46.4   4
9 THE DARKEST HOUR       4.3   2,327    1,848   43     13.3   2
10 THE DESCENDANTS       3.7     758    4,815   76     39.7   7
11 THE MUPPETS           2.6   1,541    1,679   21     82.5   6
12 HUGO                  2.5     951    2,655   19     49.5   6


Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $150.9       $148.6       1.5


Year-to-date Revenue:

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $10,215      $10,570      -3.4


Year-to-date Attendance:      -4.2%

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Golum in Los Angeles at rgolum@bloomberg.net

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

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