The box office results for the weekend of Dec. 16th-18th sees a playful battle of big-budgeted sequels, as the holiday movie season begins to ramp up. “Sherlock Holmes” battles “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” while Tom Cruise fires off a warning shot with “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” And in other news, the award contenders are starting to spread their wings. Here are the studio estimates:

1. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadow ($40 million)

2. Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked ($23.5 million)

3. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol ($13 million)

4. New Year’s Eve ($7.4 million)

5. The Sitter ($4.4 million)

6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 ($4.3 million)

7. Young Adult (3.6 million)

8. Hugo ($3.6 million)

9. Arthur Christmas ($3.6 million)

10. The Muppets ($3.4 million)


Here’s the deal folks:

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” rang up a $125 million production bill. Compared to the first installment in 2009, this sucker opened up $20 million behind. Will Warner Bros. have issues? Nah. Overseas totals will pad this flick’s stats and word-of-mouth is fairly good. No need to panic just yet.

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” officially opens wide on December 21st, yet Paramount is very confident in its franchise and decided to give roughly 425 theaters a peak this weekend. And it was a wise move. Easily the best action movie of the year – as stated by critics and audiences, the $140 million produced piece should enjoy a long shelf-life over the holiday season. Look for Tom Cruise to once again bask in box office glory. But then again, the holiday roster will get crowded next week, so who knows what could happen.

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” Twentieth Century Fox’s surprise cash-cow these last few years, may have been milked out. The third installment will clearly not eclipse the $200 million domestic totals its predecessors easily achieved. So that $80 million the producers spent on this could be an issue. But hey, they probably had money to play with; and if audiences saw the first two – which they obviously did – chances are this could hang around despite the weak opening.

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” currently holds the longest streak in the top ten with 5 weeks. Domestically, the flick has reached $266 million.

This week, movies are flying out everywhere. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Adventures of Tintin” and” Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” all go wide on Wednesday. On Friday, “We Bought a Zoo” and “My Week with Marilyn” and the throwback silent film, “The Artist,” come to play. And on Christmas Day (Sunday), “The Darkest Hour” and “War Horse” round out 2011. Reviews will be right here my fellow Shockers.

By (a little hungover) Joe Belcastro

Easy win for Sherlock Holmes.

By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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