Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weekend Forecast: 'M:I-4' To Lead Final Weekend of 2011

Audiences looking to catch up on the crush of holiday movies have another chance over New Year's weekend, which officially qualifies as the final weekend of 2011.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol has easily held the top spot for the past eight days, and should manage to maintain a lead over Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and claim first place for the second-straight weekend. Through the end of the four-day holiday frame (Friday-Monday), Ghost Protocol will likely have passed Mission: Impossible III's $134 million total.

Once again, Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks should round out the Top Three on the box office chart. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows passed the $100 million mark on Wednesday, becoming the first December 2011 release to reach this plateau. Despite ongoing solid grosses, though, neither Sherlock nor Alvin have any chance of reaching their predecessors' totals ($209 million and $219.6 million, respectively).

This is a big weekend for both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and War Horse. Despite a strong campaign and relentless internet buzz, Dragon Tattoo only managed to gross $32.5 million through its first seven days in theaters. For the movie to have any chance of breaking $100 million (and subsequently kick-start sequel talks), it's going to need to turn out adult audiences in droves this weekend.

War Horse, on the other hand, had a great $14.5 million two-day opening on Sunday and Monday before plummeting to the back of the new-release pack on Tuesday and Wednesday. The movie will need to regain significant momentum this weekend and wind up in the Top Five, or else that strong start will be regarded as a fluke.

While there aren't any major new movies, there are a handful of limited releases this weekend. Focus Features' Pariah had a solid $21,824 debut at four locations on Wednesday, and will look to build on that success over the four-day weekend. Riding poor reviews but plenty of Oscar attention for star Meryl Streep, biopic The Iron Lady debuts at four locations on Friday. Finally, well-reviewed Iranian drama A Separation reaches three venues on Friday. While it will probably have a quiet opening, expect Sony Pictures Classics to mount a significant limited expansion following its inevitable Best Foreign Language Academy Award nomination next month.

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