Box Office Report: As Traffic Picks Up, 'Mission: Impossible' Has Edge Over 'Dragon Tattoo,' 'Sherlock'

"Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol"

After a sluggish start, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" gets a boost as kids are let out of school and is leading over Steven Spielberg's Christmas family film "The Adventures of Tintin."

The Christmas box office showed signs of life Wednesday as Paramount's Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol and Sony's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo opened nationwide after three miserable weekends at the multiplex.

Ghost Protocol was expected to lead the day with a gross in the $5 million-$6 million range, while Dragon Tattoo -- which is off to a strong start -- and Warner Bros.' Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows were on course to gross $4.5 million-$5.5 million (some box office observers believe Ghost Protocol will do north of $6 million).

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The family market saw the debut of Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin on Wednesday, although holdover Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, which got off to a sluggish start  Friday, was picking up steam midweek as more and more kids were sprung from school. Paramount and Sony partnered on Tintin, which has already earned north of $240 million overseas where the cartoon character is more well known.

Early projections show Alvin grossing $3.5 million-$4 million for the day, while Tintin was expected to gross $2.5 million-$3 million.

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Directed by Brad Bird and returning Tom Cruise in the title role, Ghost Protocol began its run  Friday in 425 limited Imax and large-format sneaks, grossing a stellar $17.1 million from the sneaks. On Tuesday night, the film -- co-financed by Skydance Productions -- grossed $2 million as it moved into roughly 2,400 theaters. On Wednesday, it was playing in more than 3,400 locations.

David Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, launched in 2,700 runs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, grossing $1.6 million and earning a glowing A CinemaScore. On Wednesday, the film -- based on the blockbuster Swedish novel -- moved into 2,914 locations.

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Sony believes its R-rated film, produced by Scott Rudin, will be the adult alternative to other Christmas pics. Women and men over the age of 25 -- who are showing equal interest in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo -- are expected to be the primary audience, although Sony has aggressively marketed to younger adults as well.