Box Office Report: 'Sherlock,' 'Alvin' Open Soft on Friday

Warner Bros.

"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" soars in limited IMAX launch, fueled by 8-minute preview of "The Dark Knight Rises."

The doldrums that kicked in a year ago at the domestic box office continued Friday as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked faced a soft marketplace, further worrying Hollywood.

From Warner Bros., Game of Shadows grossed an estimated $15 million on its first day for a projected weekend opening is the $42 million to $45 million range, compared to a $62.3 million opening for Sherlock Holmes in 2009.

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Game of Shadows wasn't likely to reach the same levels as the first film, which opened on Christmas day and had the  benefit of the year-end holidays being fully underway. The weekend before Christmas isn't necessarily known for big movie openings, since many moviegoers are preoccupied with holiday preparations.

Still, most box office observers believed Game of Shadows would hit $50 million considering it's the sequel to a box office hit, although Warner gave a more conservative range of $40 million to $50 million.

Chip-Wrecked grossed an estimated $7 million on Friday from 3,723 theaters--well less than the $13.3 million earned by the original Alvin and the Chipmunks on the same Friday in 2007. The 3D GGI/live-action hybrid is expected to gross $25 million to $28 million for the weekend, compared to $44.3 million for the first Alvin and $48.9 million for the sequel, which opened on Dec. 23 in 2009.

But the news isn't all bad. Films can rack up huge grosses during the year-end holidays, and Game of Shadows and Chip-Wrecked could make up ground.

Game of Shadows, directed by Guy Ritchie and returning Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the title roles, received a promising A- CinemaScore, compared to a B for the first film, which grossed $209 million domestically and $315 million internationally. Of those buying tickets on Friday, a full 68 percent were over the age of 25, while men made up 59 percent of the audience.

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Chip-Wrecked, appealing heavily to families as expected, earned a B+ CinemaScore, compared to an A for the original.

One bright spot at the Friday box office was the limited launch of Paramount's Tom Cruise starrer Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which opened in 425 IMAX and large-format screens, grossing an estimated $4.6 million for a projected $12 million weekend (The $4.6 million includes $1.1 million in Thursday evening and midnight runs). The pic opens nationwide on Dec. 21.

Anecdotal evidence suggests a big draw for Ghost Protocol is an 8-minute preview of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, a Warner Bros. pic. Nolan used IMAX cameras to film some of his movie.

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