In a weekend where big-money franchises did battle—which would describe just about every weekend in Hollywood, really—the top two earners were also the biggest losers. Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows and Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked performed so far below previous entries that future sequels seem in doubt. Guy Ritchie’s first bastardization of the Arthur Conan Doyle character proved a surprise sensation in 2009, when it collected $62 million on opening weekend, but the sequel revealed a sharp drop in tolerance, with just $40 million this go around—enough for a weak first place. For its part, Chipwrecked scored $23.5 million, less than half of the $48.9 million brought in by Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and perhaps an end to the lucrative torment of David Cross. Paramount rolled the dice a bit by opening Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol exclusively on IMAX screens for Week One, but the gamble paid off big, as the film had such a huge per screen average ($30,588) that it debuted in fourth despite being on only 425 screens. The IMAX move should give audiences the (correct) impression that Ghost Protocol must be seen on a large screen, and it stands to crush Sherlock Holmes for action dollars once it expands over Christmas. America appears ready to forgive Tom Cruise for being a creepy weirdo.
Aside from the continued success of The Descendants, The Artist, and other assorted Oscar bait, the arthouse scene was quiet over the weekend. Roman Polanski’s star-filled Carnage didn’t get the critical support of his last film, the minor hit The Ghost Writer, and suffered accordingly, earning $17,130 on five screens, a very soft total given Ghost Writer’s $45,000 per screen in its limited bow. The documentary Corman’s World and the indie meth drama Cook County both struggled with $7,000 and $8,100, respectively, though the Corman doc had the better per screen average with $3,500 on two screens to Cook County’s $1,620 on five.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.