Devil Inside

Paramount Pictures

A little ol' exorcism, that's all Hollywood—and audiences—needed.

The demon-chasing The Devil Inside boosted the box office with a scary-good $34.5 million debut.

The performance was the third-biggest ever for a January opener, per Box Office Mojo stats.

The Blair Witch-ian film not only knocked Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol out of No. 1, after a two-weekend stay, it came up bigger than the Tom Cruise hit has in any of its Friday-Sunday runs.

With people actually going to the movies, Hollywood saw ticket sales surge 30 percent versus the same weekend last year, Exhibitor Relations reported. (Compared to last weekend, which was a holiday weekend, business was slightly down.) 

Though demoted to No. 2, Ghost Protocol held well, coming up with $20.5 million, and hitting the $400 million mark worldwide, something that neither Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows nor The Adventures of Tintin, both of which have been around longer, has yet done.

The grown-up Cold War thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was the Top 10's other hot ticket, grossing just under $6 million at only about 800 theaters.

Meryl Streep, meanwhile, remained the hottest ticket, with The Iron Lady averaging a weekend-best $34,420 at each of its five theaters. 

Overall, it wasn't a great weekend for presumed Oscar front-runners: George Clooney's The Descendants dropped from the Top 10; Steven Spielberg's War Horse remained stuck in the pack; and, The Artist didn't have any breakthroughs. All these films and more are hanging on until Jan. 24  when the nominations are out. 

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

  1. The Devil Inside, $34.5 million
  2. Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, $20.5 million
  3. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, $14.1 million
  4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, $11.4 million
  5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, $9.5 million
  6.  War Horse, $8.6 million
  7. We Bought a Zoo, $8.5 million
  8. The Adventures of Tintin, $6.6 million
  9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, $5.8 million
  10. New Year's Eve, $3.3 million
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