'Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol' Bowing Abroad Prior to U.S. Release

AFP/Getty Images

Holiday schedule shuffle also sees Fox Searchlight's "The Descendants" moved to a Thanksgiving-friendly date.

Let the holiday games begin.

Studios have begun tweaking their year-end schedules, led by Paramount pushing back the release of Tom Cruise starrer Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol by five days, from Dec. 16 to Dec. 21.

Overseas -- where Cruise remains immensely popular -- Ghost Protocol still opens in Asia, Russia and two-thirds of Europe, including France and Germany, on Dec. 16.

Hours after Paramount revealed the switch-up, Fox Searchlight said it will now open Alexander Payne's George Clooney starrer The Descendants in a limited run on Nov. 23, instead of December 16.

PHOTOS: Rooney Mara and Hollywood's New Leading Ladies

The year-end holidays can be immensely profitable in terms of box office business. But while there’s plenty of capacity, studios still shy away from direct competition.

In its old slot of Dec. 16, Ghost Protocol would have opened opposite Warner Bros. sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, with both films vying for the same audience. (The other event pic opening Dec. 16 is 20th Century Fox’s threequel Alvin and the Chipmunk: Chipwrecked).

Ghost Protocol now opens on the same day as Sony’s David Fincher pic The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which, because of its R-rating, will appeal to an older audience.

PHOTOS: Actors Who've Played Politicians

Opening two days later on Dec. 23 are Paramount’s The Adventures of Tintin and Fox’s Cameron Crowe pic We Bought a Zoo.

If Descendants would have opened Dec. 16, it would have gone up against the Weinstein Co.'s Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep.