Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible, Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Columbia Pictures

Tom Cruise is still back—and ahead of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol led as the very long Christmas weekend box office kicked off Wednesday.

 As for David Fincher's Dragon Tattoo and Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin?

Dragon Tattoo opened with $5.1 million, including early-bird, 7 p.m. Tuesday screenings, its studio estimated. All in all, a solid start for a pitch-black, R-rated movie unspooling during the most wonderful time of the year.

Ghost Protocol, which moved onto to nearly 3,500 screens after a whiz-bang limited-release debut last weekend, dominated with $8.5 million, Exhibitor Relations reported. 

Tintin, meanwhile, was buried by the new and newish competition, coming away with $2.3 million. 

"Not a great start for Tintin," Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock said in an email. "But I expect it will pick up over the weekend."

Even if it doesn't, Tintin can console itself with the $200 million-plus it's already banked thanks to overseas audiences. (Based on a Belgian comic strip, the motion-capture adventure opened in Europe and elsewhere in late October.)

Last weekend's two disappointing sequels did OK business Wednesday. Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows earned $4.3 million, per Exhibitor Relations; Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, $3.5 million.

Overall, Cruise and the "feel-bad movie of Christmas" helped Hollywood shake a bit of its holiday malaise.

Last year, the top two midweek Christmas openers, Little Fockers and True Grit, combined to gross $12.6 million on the Wednesday before the 25th; Ghost Protocol and Dragon Tattoo teamed up for $13.6 million.

Matt Damon's We Bought a Zoo joins the race on Friday; Spielberg's other holiday movie, the Oscar contender War Horse, opens Christmas Day on Sunday. 

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