Box Office Report: 'Sherlock Holmes,' 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' Lead Another Scrooge Weekend

Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows Robert Downey Jude Law - H 2011
Warner Bros.

Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows Robert Downey Jude Law - H 2011

"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" bucks the downturn, doing strong business in IMAX sneaks in advance of its Dec. 21 launch.

The beginning of the year-end holidays didn't bring much relief to the domestic box office on Friday as Warner Bros.' sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked grossed noticeably less than hoped for, while the weekend itself could end up being down by more than 10 percent following the worst weekend in years.

Game of Shadows topped the Friday box office with $14.7 million for a projected weekend opening in the low $40 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 Sherlock, which opened on Christmas day and had the  benefit of the year-end holidays being fully underway. 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.

Last year, Disney's Tron Legacy opened on the same weekend to $44 million after grossing $17.5 million on Friday.

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Chip-Wrecked grossed a meek $6.8 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 $24 million to $25 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. Tron went on to earn $172 million at the domestic box office.

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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.

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 $4.7 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 extended preview of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, a Warner Bros. pic (there's a separte teaser of Dark Knight Rises attached to Sherlock).

Ghost Protocol came in No. 3 on Friday.