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Weekend Box Office: Holmes and Chipmunks Deliver Weaker-Than-Expected One-Two Punch

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By Chris Kavan - 12/18/11 at 11:14 PM CT

Audiences sent a mixed message to established franchises over the weekend, with Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks opening lower but Mission: Impossible looking very strong in a limited showing.

Debuting in first, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows took in $40 million, which isn't a bad opening at all, but can only be seen as a disappointment when compared to the $62.3 million the original opened with in 2009. It was even down from last year's Tron Legacy, which opened with $44 million over the same weekend. Even with a solid A- score from audiences, it's looking like the second time isn't going to be as kind for Holmes and co.

Things weren't looking much better for Alvin and the Chipmunks. For their third outing, Chip-Wrecked landed in second with $23.5 million. That was also quite far below the sequel, which took in $48.9 million and less than the original as well ($44.3 million). It doesn't help when one of the movies stars (in this case David Cross) expounds on how terrible the experience making the movie was for him. I'm actually surprised it got this far. Maybe this is one franchise I can finally be rid of.

There was a good sign for the box office, however. Despite opening in just 425 theaters, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol wound up in third with $13 million. It beat out Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason ($8.7 million) for highest-grossing film in limited release - under 600 theaters. Its per-theater average was an eye-popping $30,588 and it's IMAX numbers were even better: $36,667 - better than the wide release numbers for both Fast Five ($32,787) and Inception ($36,548). If it can do as well in wide release, it could spell much better news for this franchise - though it will have to compete with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as well.

After opening in limited release, Young Adult broke into the top 10 by taking the seventh spot with $3.65 million. While the numbers aren't staggering, given the somewhat limited scope of the audience it targets, it has to be seen as a decent debut.

Last week's less-than-stellar debuts took some rather large, yet unsurprising, drops. New Year's Eve took a 43% drop, landing in fourth with $7.4 million for a weak $24.8 million total. The Sitter took the biggest hit out of any movie in the top 10, dropping over 55% to fifth place with $4.4 million and a $17.7 million total.

Those hoping to pin their hopes on established franchises saw those hopes dashed as the total box office was down 13% compared to last year. The year looks to go out with bang as The Adventures of Tintin, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the wide-release of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol all look to score big at the box office.

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