Box Office Grinch: 'We Bought a Zoo' Opens No. 6; Powerhouse 'M:I4' Can't Save Year

10:10 AM PST 12/24/2011 by Pamela McClintock
20th Century Fox

Hopes are dimming that Hollywood can completely close the gap in domestic box office revenues by the New Year, even though the long Christmas weekend should best last year.

Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo opened to a sluggish $3 million at the domestic box office on Friday despite its all-star cast teaming Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.

Twentieth Century Fox is hoping that the all-audience movie, about a widower who tries to revive a decrepit zoo with his kids, will pick up as families become available after Christmas morning and throughout next week, when moviegoing spikes. We Bought a Zoo received an A CinemaScore, a promising sign, although the film's performance on Friday is nevertheless a disappointment for Fox.

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With 2012 fast approaching, Hollywood is now reisgned to the fact that it probably won't be able to close the gap in domestic box office revenues, even as international grosses surge. One veteran studio executive believes domestic revenues will come in at $10.1 billion, a 3 percent dip from 2010.

The year-end holidays have brought some relief--heading into the final two weeks of 2011, the gap was more than 4 percent. And the four-day Christmas weekend should end up 3 percent over last year.

Paramount's Tom Cruise starrer Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol has done stellar buisness since opening last Friday in 425 IMAX and other large-format locations before expanding nationwide on Tuesday evening.

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The Brad Bird-directed film, which introduces Jeremy Renner to the espionage franchise, stayed atop the domestic box office on Friday, grossing a strong $9.7 million for a domestic cume of $42.2 millon. The film is expected to finish Monday--a national holiday--with a domestic cume of nearly $72 million.

Overseas, where Ghost Protocol began rolling out lsat weekend, the film has now earned north of $105 million. Skydance Productions co-financed the $125 million event pic.

Paramount is virtually assured of ending 2011 No. 1 in marketshare, both domestically and internationally. Overseas, the studio's films will have collected north of $3 billion in ticket sales. It's the first time any studio has jumped the $3 billion mark.

Staying at No. 2 on Friday was Warner Bros.' Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, grossing $6.8 million for a domestic cume of $65.5 million. The sequel -- reteaming filmmaker Guy Ritchie with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law -- continues to lag behind the original pic but has gained momentum.

The news wasn't all bad for Fox. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked continued to pick up steam, grossing roughly $5.4 million Friday to come in No. 3 as more and more kids got out of school. As with Game of Shadows, Chipwrecked opened well below expectations last weekend. The threequel's domestic gross stands at $42.3 million.

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Sony's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo came in No. 4 in its third day of full play, grossing a solid $4.6 million for a domestic cume of $13 million. Directed by David Fincher, the English-language adaptation of the blockbuster Swedish novel stars Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer.

Steven Spielberg's 3D family film The Adventures of Tintin, which is off to a soft start, grossed an estimated $3.5 million Friday for a three-day cume of $11.5 million.

Paramount and Sony, who partnered on Tintin, knew the movie would be a challenge in the U.S., where the cartoon character -- created by Belgian artist Herge -- isn't as well known. Tintin is already an international hit, having grossed north of $240 million.

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