Tom Cruise returns to box office form with "MI4"

Mon Dec 26, 2011 2:51pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" easily beat its rivals in the race to No. 1 at box offices over the Christmas holiday weekend, returning action star Tom Cruise to winning form after several recent flops.

"Ghost Protocol," the fourth movie in Cruise's "Mission: Impossible" series, earned an estimated $46 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters in the four days ending on Monday, according to its distributor Paramount Pictures. Its total estimated ticket sales have reached $78.6 million after debuting in Imax and other large-screen theaters last weekend.

At international theaters, the movie dubbed "MI4", which cost around $145 million to make, sold an additional $140 million worth of tickets through Sunday. Paramount noted its audience rating from researcher CinemaScore was an "A-" and, a website that combines critics' reviews, gave the movie a 94 percent positive rating overall.

"We're pleased with the way we went with the movie, starting with premium pricing on large screens and letting the reviews and word-of-mouth (publicity) get out ahead of the movie," said Don Harris, president of distribution for Paramount.

Important for leading man Cruise, 49, is that after several box office flops in recent years, including dramas "Valkyrie" and "Lions for Lambs," and action-packed "Knight and Day," the success of "Ghost Protocol" has meant a return to the top of box office charts.

Elsewhere, Warner Bros.' "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" took the No. 2 spot with an estimated $31.8 million over the four days, followed by 20th Century Fox family comedy "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" with a $20 million total that barely put it ahead of No. 4, adult thriller "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," at $19.4 million.

Since its midweek debut last week, "Dragon Tattoo" has earned $27.7 million. A Sony spokesman called it "a good start" that should build this coming week and into the new year.

HO HUM 2011, DOWN 4.45 PCT   Continued...