The final box office weekend of 2011 should be led by Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible _ Ghost Protocol," with a not impossible domestic gross near $35 million for the four-day New Year's weekend.
The Paramount film led the Christmas weekend after its limited debut in IMAX gave it a big marketing boost, and this week's midweek numbers indicate audience interest is holding, with a total North American gross of about $130 million expected by Monday night.
Warner Bros.' "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, will enter its third weekend after crossing the $100 million mark on Wednesday, and clues point to another $25 million for the long holiday weekend.
Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" should have a chipper third weekend in the low $20 million range as families enjoy the last of the holidays together before it's back to school. By Monday night, the little rodents should have munched a total of about $90 million.
Sony's thriller "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," the second film adaptation of the hugely popular mystery novel by Stieg Larsson, hacked $20 million from audiences over the extended Christmas holiday and enters New Year's weekend with a potential gross in the mid- to high-teens.
Disney's "War Horse" opened Christmas Day with $7.5 million and will now stretch its legs over a full holiday weekend with a likely gross in the $15 million range. The Steven Spielberg film is based on the 1982 children's novel and the 2007 stage adaptation, and has received two Golden Globe nominations, including for best picture.
Paul Dergarabedian is president of the Box Office Division of Hollywood.com and provides box office analysis for The Associated Press.