Weekend Box Office: Two of Three Franchises Fumble

Theater attendance was down for the third week in a row this weekend. Like many others, I assumed that the release of three major sequels would pick the box office back up. Oddly enough, the film four entries deep into its franchise performed the best, while the other two made considerably less than their high-grossing predecessors.

Unsurprisingly, ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows‘ opened in the #1 spot. What is surprising, however, is how much lower it opened than the 2009 box office champ ‘Sherlock Holmes‘ from the same studio, director and cast. The first ‘Holmes’ opened to $62.3 million on Christmas Day, whereas the new follow-up only opened to $40 million. Ouch. While I loved the sequel more than the first, perhaps the not-so-enticing 61% Rotten Tomatoes rating steered audiences to something better-reviewed and a little more appealing. But we’ll get to that after…

…’Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked’. Ugh. This mess happened, but at least its box office was down more than half of its predecessor, ‘The Squeakquel’. With an ugly $23.5 million opening, perhaps Fox will get the message that half of its audience has fallen for this crap twice now, but never again. For a film that only cost $75 million, is a $23.5 million opening enough to make the studio bury the franchise? We can only hope so.

The big surprise to me was that the limited opening of ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol‘ pulled in an insane $13 million on just 425 premium screens across the nation. Overseas, the film also made a killing, earning $62.8 million in 36 markets. ‘Ghost Protocol’ actually features the highest per-screen average out of all the films this weekend: $30,588. With a 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating, you can’t help wondering if this is where some of the former ‘Sherlock Holmes’ business went. According to Box Office Mojo, ‘Ghost Protocol’ broke the record for highest-grossing opening for a limited release (under 600 screens). The ‘Dark Knight Rises’ prologue running before the film on 42 of those screens may have also added a good amount of business.

Roman Polaski’s ‘Carnage‘ opened on only five screens, but finished with a stellar $85,700 weekend. That’s $17,140 per screen. The documentary ‘Corman’s World‘ didn’t do so great with its two-screen release, only warranting $7,000 in business.

Young Adult‘ added 978 screens to its release, but only added $3.65 million to its total. ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘ added 12 screens to its release and climbed up 46% from last week with $452,000.

Top 10:

1. ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ (Warner Bros.) – $40,020,00

2. ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked’ (Fox) – $23,500,000

3. ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ (Paramount) – $13,000,000

4. ‘New Year’s Eve’ (Warner Bros.) – $7,420,000

5. ‘The Sitter’ (Fox) – $4,400,000

6. ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1’ (Summit) – $4,300,000

7. ‘Young Adult’ (Paramount) – $3,650,000

8. ‘Hugo’ (Paramount) – $3,625,000

9. ‘Arthur Christmas’ (Sony) – $3,600,000

10. ‘The Muppets’ (Buena Vista) – $3,454,000


  1. MI4 was a thrill ride. Some of the best (and most tense!) action sequences I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. Not only is it the best Mission Impossible movie – it’s actually better than most James Bond movies. A real shot in the arm for a franchise that was a little long in the tooth.

  2. Deaditelord

    I really enjoyed M:I 4 too. It’s definitely the best of the sequels and quite possibly better than the original, although I would want to watch the first one again before making that decision.

    As to the low box office turnout, simply put, it’s just way too expensive to see a movie now at most movie theater chain. Until M:I 4, I had not been to a major theater chain in nearly 2 years, (I normally frequent a locally owned theater with excellent sound quality and stadium seating that charges $5 for all of their 2D showings) and had I actually decided to buy any of their outrageously priced concessions ($6.50 for a regular popcorn! REALLY???), I would have paid $20 just for me to see the movie. That’s insane. At that price, I could buy the blu-ray the week of release and probably still have enough money left over to get my popcorn and soft drink at the grocery store.

    On a related note: How can theaters get away with charging extra for so called Ultravision screens that are not appreciably bigger than their regular screens?

    • Luke Hickman

      The whole “premium screen” thing has kinda baffled me all along. Cinemark is pushing their XD screens – which are barely bigger than standard screens. The biggest difference is the seating – big wide leather seats. But charging so much extra for just THAT is unreasonable to me.

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