Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros.

Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows  did enough to top the box office.

It didn't do enough to top Tom Cruise.

Cruise's fourth Mission: Impossible movie, the Brad Bird-retrofitted Ghost Protocol, which opened in limited release on 425 screens, most of them IMAX, easily delivered the weekend's biggest bang. 

Ghost Protocol's fantastic per-screen average of  nearly $31,000 translated into a $13 million Friday-Sunday take, enough to outearn films playing on thousands more screens, including the fizzled New Year's Eve, and to take third place in the standings.

A Game of Shadows, meanwhile, which flooded more than 3,700 locations, looks like it earned a big $40 million—until its gross is stacked next to the $62.3 million that the first Sherlock Holmes opened to in 2009.

Sequel fatigue, or whatever it is that's ailing Hollywood this ho-hum holiday season, also plagued Alvin & the Chipmunks.

Chipwrecked, the third installment in the squirrel saga, came away with $23.5 million—a whopping $25 million less than The Squeakquel debuted to two years ago. And, yes, Chipwrecked played at a whole lot more theaters than Ghost Protocol, and even a handful more than Game of Shadows.

Ghost Protocol is the first M:I movie in five years, and Cruise's first movie of any kind since the "belly flop" of Knight & Day, which actually ended up doing OK

The film's next test is Wednesday, when it moves onto 3,000-plus screens, and takes on a couple of other heavy-hitters, Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Elsewhere, there was no such thing as a Golden Globes bounce. All the top nominees, including The Artist and The Descendants, were down versus last weekend.

Charlize Theron's Young Adult broke wide, and broke into the Top 10.

Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill dropped out of the Top 10 after five weekends and $70.5 million domestically. The movie brings an end to Sandler's $100 million-grossing comedy streak, which had dated back to 2002's Mr. Deeds

Here's a complete look at the weekend's top movies, as compiled from the studios' Friday-Sunday domestic estimates and's reporting:

  1. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, $40 million
  2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, $23.5 million
  3. Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, $13 million
  4. New Year's Eve, $7.4 million
  5. The Sitter, $4.4 million
  6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1, $4.3 million
  7. Young Adult, $3.7 million
  8. Hugo, $3.625 million
  9. Arthur Christmas, $3.6 million
  10. The Muppets, $3.5 million
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