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December 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Any hope that the 2011 domestic box office might finally overtake 2010’s vanished over the weekend as ticket sales fell well below predictions for the third week in a row. After strong spring and summer performances that offset a lousy first quarter, the box office has slipped back into sluggishness. The top film last weekend, Warner Bros.’ Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which had been expected to rake in around $50 million, didn’t quite make it to $40 million. And Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, lived up to its name, earning just $23.2 million. Only Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, which opened in only 425 theaters, 300 of them IMAX venues, impressed. It earned $12.8 million for an average of $30,083 per theater. The IMAX marketing ploy seemed to work like gangbusters. Most moviegoers who wanted to see it immediately after it came out had to shell out for IMAX premium tickets And once they got a look at the scenes of Tom Cruise scaling the tallest building in the world in Dubai and got a taste of acrophobia, they were likely to advise friends to see the movie in IMAX. The marketing ploy worked, said veteran box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “If “looks to be a game changer,” he wrote.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Box Office Mojo (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Warner Bros., $39,637,079, (New); 2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, 20th Century Fox, $23,244,744, (New); 3. Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, Paramount, $12,785,204, 1 Wk. ($13,385,204 — From Thursday); 4. New Year’s Eve, Warner Bros., $7,310,413, 2 Wks. ($24,716,167); 5. The Sitter, 20th Century Fox, $4,608,681, 2 Wks. ($17,929,987); 6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1, Summit, $4,197,893, 5 Wks. ($266,327,974); 7. Hugo, Paramount, $3,707,848, 4 Wks. ($39,155,709); 8. Arthur Christmas, Sony, $3,554,286, 4 Wks. ($38,501,631); 9. The Muppets, Disney, $3,520,926, 4 Wks. ($70,994,571); 10. Young Adult, Paramount, $3,403,159, 2 Wks. ($3,843,083).