‘Mission Impossible’ Leads Final Box-Office Weekend of 2011

“Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” was the top U.S. and Canadian film over the New Year’s weekend, collecting $38.3 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 with Tom Cruise coasted to No. 1 in its third week, Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in a statement. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” was second with $26.5 million, while “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” drew $21 million.

“Ghost Protocol” helped propel Viacom Inc. (VIA/B)’s Paramount to first place for 2011 in U.S. cinemas and worldwide, a bright spot in a disappointing year for competitors. Paramount films generated $1.96 billion in North American sales, up 13 percent from 2010, and $3.21 billion internationally, according to a statement today. The industry’s U.S. revenue fell 3.4 percent and attendance slid 4.2% to a 16-year-low.

“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 counter 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, another researcher.

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 have generated $981.8 million in worldwide theatrical sales, 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 $97.4 million since its Dec. 16 release.

Among other returning films, Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” collected $19.2 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 $15 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 $19 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 fell 5.8 percent to $140 million from a year ago, Hollywood.com said. For 2011, revenue fell 3.4 percent to $10.2 billion while attendance dropped 4.2 percent. The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Dec. 30 to Jan. 1 and estimates for today.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
 1 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE $38.3   3,455  $11,093    0   $141.2    3
 2 SHERLOCK HOLMES      26.5   3,703    7,159    4    136.5    3
 3 ALVIN AND CHIPMUNKS  21.0   3,724    5,639   30     97.4    3
 4 WAR HORSE            19.2   2,547    7,546   92     45.2    2
 5 DRAGON TATTOO        19.0   2,914    6,520   16     60.0    2
 6 WE BOUGHT A ZOO      16.5   3,163    5,217   41     44.0    2
 7 ADVENTURES OF TINTIN 15.0   3,087    4,859   18     50.8    2
 8 NEW YEAR’S EVE        7.7   2,225    3,476   93     47.4    4
 9 THE DARKEST HOUR      5.3   2,327    2,256   43     14.2    2
10 THE DESCENDANTS       4.3     758    5,607   64     40.3    7
11 THE MUPPETS           3.8   1,541    2,454   26     83.6    6
12 HUGO (3-D)            3.2     951    3,312   15     50.2    6

*Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $140.0        $148.6       -5.8

*Three-day total

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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