Movie Projector: ‘Mission: Impossible’ sequel to rule Christmas

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Moviegoers will have a handful of new films to choose from this Christmas, but none will likely reach the heights of Tom Cruise’s latest ‘Mission: Impossible’ sequel.

The fourth installment in Paramount Pictures’ action franchise, ‘Ghost Protocol’ — which expanded its run in theaters nationwide on Tuesday night — is expected to beat out all other box-office contenders this weekend.

For the five-day holiday period between Wednesday and Christmas Sunday, the movie will likely sell about $45 million worth of tickets, according to those who have seen prerelease audience surveys. The $145-million production, which opened in about 400 Imax and large-format theaters in the U.S. last Thursday, has already grossed $25.7 million domestically and $85 million overseas.

Director David Fincher’s ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,’ which opened Tuesday, will likely be runner-up with around $30 million through Sunday. The movie cost around $100 million to produce, said an individual close to the production, though a Sony representative insisted the budget was $90 million.


The picture starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig has so far been extremely well received by audiences, who assigned it an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore. ‘Ghost Protocol’ earned an A-, as did ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,’ which is projected to come in third at the box office this weekend.

The Robert Downey Jr. detective sequel had a softer than hoped for opening last weekend but has performed solidly this week, and could make around $27 million or more from Wednesday to Sunday. The film, which cost $125 million to make, has so far grossed $54 million.

‘The Adventures of Tintin,’ Steven Spielberg’s 3-D animated film based on a popular Belgian comic book series, opened domestically on Wednesday and collected a soft $2.3 million. The movie, which cost co-financiers Paramount and Sony between $150 million and $170 million, will likely bring in around $15 million over the five-day period.

The family movie received an A- CinemaScore and Paramount — which is releasing it in the U.S. and Canada — is hopeful that word of mouth will help the film pass the $100-million mark by the end of its domestic run. Meanwhile, the picture is a hit abroad, where it has so far grossed $240 million.

‘We Bought a Zoo,’ which doesn’t hit theaters until Friday, is expected get off to a modest start with around $10 million by the weekend’s end. The family drama, which was directed by Cameron Crowe and stars Matt Damon as a widower who purchases a dilapidated zoo, cost 20th Century Fox about $50 million to produce.

Two films will open on Christmas Day, the Spielberg-directed ‘War Horse’ and the horror thriller ‘The Darkest Hour.’ Because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year and many theaters will close early Christmas Eve, weekend results may be weaker than usual.

Despite the different schedule, Dave Hollis, executive vice president of distribution for Disney — which is releasing ‘War Horse’ — felt the holiday was still the right date to open the picture made by Spielberg’s DreamWorks.

“We picked Christmas because combined with Spielberg and the brand he represents, it signals this is something that is going to be special,” Hollis explained.

The World War I drama will probably not make a large dent in the marketplace on Sunday with an expected $4 million in sales. But Disney hopes that the film — last week nominated for a best drama picture Golden Globe prize — will generate positive word of mouth and play well through the award season. Spielberg’s studio spent around $70 million to produce the film, which features a mostly unknown British cast.

‘The Darkest Hour’ is the least-expensive film to be released over the holidays, with a budget of around $30 million. The Summit Entertainment and New Regency co-production will also make the least money of any film through Sunday, as it is only expected to gross around $2 million on its opening day.

In limited release, Warner Bros. will open director Stephen Daldry’s drama ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ on Sunday in a total of six theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Toronto. The movie, based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s popular novel about a child struggling with the death of his father post-9/11, will expand nationwide on Jan. 20.


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— Amy Kaufman