Cruise, "MI4" lead box office at end of weak year

Mon Jan 2, 2012 4:37pm EST
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By Lisa and Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Tom Cruise's fourth "Mission: Impossible" movie held on to the top of box office charts over New Year's weekend as Hollywood said goodbye to a sluggish year at domestic movie theaters.

As 2011 ended, U.S. and Canadian revenue fell from last year and attendance slumped to its lowest level since 1995.

The year's final weekend saw top movies add to ticket sales from the Christmas holiday one week earlier but no change in the top three chart positions. The "Sherlock Holmes" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" franchise films took the No. 2 and 3 positions behind Cruise's film.

From Friday through Monday, "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" hauled in an estimated $38.3 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters, distributor Paramount Pictures said.

The movie that features the 49-year-old Cruise as special agent Ethan Hunt dangling off the world's tallest building has grossed $366.5 million worldwide, Of that, $225.3 million has come from international markets, affirming Cruise's place as a solid performer for global audiences and capping a strong year for "MI4" distributor, Paramount Pictures.

Propelled by the third "Transformers" film, Paramount's movies grossed nearly $5.2 billion worldwide, the studio said. The total included nearly $2 billion at domestic theaters and a record $3.2 billion internationally.

No new movies were released nationwide over the weekend.

In second place, detective sequel "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" grossed $26.5 million over four days. Third place belonged to family film "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," which pulled in $21.0 million.   Continued...