December 18, 2011



As schools close and vacations begin, a lot of money is about to flood into Hollywood for about 2 blissful weeks.  But not enough to make up for the rest of a doleful year.
SHERLOCK HOLMES:  GAME OF SHADOWS (Warners):  With a studio estimate that just barely managed to nudge above $40M–and needed an extraordinarily low 28% projected Sunday drop to get there–tomorrow’s least surprising development would be an actual weekend number that starts with “39.”  That cosmetic change aside, this is yet another big ($125M + $150M in worldwide marketing) budget Hollywood product that will need foreign aid.

ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS:  CHIPWRECKED (20th):  With 3 major family movies opening over the next week (Tintin, We Bought A Zoo and War Horse), Alvin may be chip out of luck.  The picture did manage an additional $14M overseas in a few markets.  (And Tintin is already done overseas, which could help beyond these shores.)
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE  GHOST PROTOCOL (Paramount):  The one success story of the weekend.  Paramount could hardly have hoped for a better start, and the idea of staging an “event” opening only at Imax and other large-format theatres was inspired (it didn’t hurt that Warners gave the opening a Dark Night Rises boost).  Add to that a terrific $68M initial launch in 36 overseas territories.
YOUNG ADULT (Paramount):  On the other hand, the same studio was unable to create any excitement over its holiday movie for grown-ups, and the film is in serious danger of a quick fade.
CARNAGE (Sony Classics):  A $17K average in 5 NY/LA theatres just doesn’t cut it in this, the most crowded season of the year for prestige titles.
EXPANSIONSTINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (Focus) had a small but very successful push into 16 theatres, with a robust $28K average.  A DANGEROUS METHOD (Sony Classics) broadened its run to 17 theatres with a far less impressive $9K average result.  SHAME (Fox Searchlight) faltered to a $6K average in 51 theatres.  The most important expansion of the season will happen on Friday, though, when Weinstein finally moves THE ARTIST to 170 movie-houses (and also brings MY WEEK WITH MARILYN to around 400).
HOLDOVERSNEW YEAR’S EVE (Warners) held fairly well with a 43% drop from last week, but the opening was so low that it doesn’t matter much.  The bottom dropped out of THE SITTER (20th) with an unsurprising 55% plummet.  BREAKING DAWN PART 1 (Summit) is pacing below New Moon, and will be the lowest grossing chapter of the saga since the original Twilight.  The family trio of HUGO (Paramount), ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (Sony) and THE MUPPETS (Disney) are tightly bunched in the $3.4-3.6M weekend area, and about to be assailed by new competition–even though Hugo is getting generous awards attention, that hasn’t pulled the film above the crowd, although its likely Oscar nominations should keep it in the market deeper into 2012 than the others.  J. EDGAR (Warners) lost half its theatres and is essentially done with a $35M total.  MARGIN CALL (Roadside) passed the $5M mark, putting it ahead of most of the fall’s higher-profile indie competition.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."