Mission Impossible continues the Holiday Haul at the US box office

The North American box office has ended on a high note as 2011 came to a close…

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol continues to reign in the number one spot for two consecutive weeks. Since its release on December 21st, the fourth installment of the spy franchise has managed an impressive 141 million dollar haul. The film is being hailed as ‘the return of Tom Cruise’ as critics and audiences have given Ghost Protocol high marks. The latest M:I film could wind up being the biggest box office success of the series.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows continues to fall into the runner up position raking in another 22 million dollars for a total of $137 million in receipts. The sequel should end up with around $180 million in ticket sales when all is said and done, coming just shy of the original’s $200 million in 2009.

Steven Spielberg has two films in wide release. War Horse is the stronger showing with a 17 million dollar weekend and a 43 million dollar total since being released on Christmas Day. Good reviews and strong word of mouth should keep the period piece in the top three over the coming weeks. His other entry, the animated The Adventures of Tintin hasn’t held up as well. Since its release on December 21st, the family adventure has just crossed $50 million in ticket sales and is struggling to stay in the top 10. One has to wonder if the poor reception in the U.S. will have any impact on a sequel, which as of now is intended to be directed by Peter Jackson. Worldwide box office success might still make this a reality.

The two big box office surprises have been the strong holds of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Cameron Crowe family film We Bought a Zoo. Both films are managing to find an audience. In spite of an R rating and some graphic sex and violence, the David Fincher directed thriller banked another $16 million in ticket sales for a total of $60 million. We Bought a Zoo has brought in another $14 million this weekend for a grand total of $45 million.

In other news, the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks has crossed $100 million this weekend and is still the go to family film for American audiences. Meanwhile, the counter programming horror film The Darkest Hour has managed to scrape up $14 million since being released on Christmas Day.

With very few wide releases over the next two weeks, very little should change. Expect Ghost Protocol to land the top spot again next week, and a strong surge from War Horse could propel it to the number two spot.

Here’s your top films for North America:

1. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Weekend Estimate: $28 million; $141 million total

2. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Weekend Estimate: $22 million; $132 million total

3. War Horse
Weekend Estimate: $17 million; $43 million total

4. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
Weekend Estimate: $18 million (weekend); $100m total

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Weekend Estimate: $16 million (weekend); $60m total

6. We Bought a Zoo
Weekend Estimate: $14 million (weekend); $45m total

7. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Weekend Estimate: $12 million (weekend); $50m total

Anghus Houvouras

Around the Internet…