The box office rang in the new just about the way it rang in the old -- sounding more like Big Ben than like Tinkerbell, its model for most of the past five months. With the Tom Cruise starrer Mission Impossible -- Ghost Protocol remaining in the lead with $29.6 million (24 percent from IMAX screens), the box office for the top 12 films came to about $148 million, virtually flat with the comparable weekend a year ago, when the second week of Little Fockers led with $25.8 million (challenged closely by True Grit with $24.4 million). Placing second was Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows, which wound up with around $21 million, followed by ALVIN And THE CHIPMUNKS Chipwrecked with $16.4 million. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo followed in fourth place with 14.8 million, edging out the first full weekend of the Steven Spielberg drama War Horse , which earned an estimated $14.4 million. Nevertheless, with the exception of the first two weekends of The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn in November, this was the most rewarding weekend at the box office since the first week of August. The question remains, however, will Hollywood see the box office behave the same way it did a year ago. After the New Year's Day holiday last year, the box office did not gross more than $145 million until the first weekend of May.

The top ten films for the four-day holiday, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. Mission Impossible ‹ Ghost Protocol , $38.3 million; 2. Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows , $26.5 million; 3. Alvin and the Chipmunks Chipwrecked , $21 million; 4. War Horse, $19.2 million; 5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo , $19 million; 6. We Bought a Zoo , $16.5 million; 7. The Adventures of Tintin , $15 million; 8. New Year's Eve , $7.7 million; 9. The Darkest Hour , $5.3 million; 10. The Descendants , $4.3 million.

02/01/2012