'Mission,' 'Sherlock' poised to perform in absence of wide openers

New Year’s box office is historically light on new entries, leaving Christmastime holdovers with room to grow during what can be a solid moviegoing weekend.

That’s certainly the case this year, as Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” which won bragging rights last weekend with a four-day gross of $44.1 million, is expected to stay on top. Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” should follow after collecting $31 million over Christmas.

Entering its second week of wide release, “Mission” has raked in $86 million domestically; “Sherlock” just passed $100 million in its third week.

Only a quartet of titles open in limited release, led by the Weinstein Co.’s Friday entry “The Iron Lady” and Focus Features’ “Pariah,” which bowed Wednesday. (Both pics open at four locations.)

Sony Pictures Classics’ “A Separation,” Iran’s submission to the foreign-lingo Oscar race, and Magnolia’s family drama “Angels Crest” also launch limited on Friday.

Similar to Stateside plexes, overseas cinemas should benefit from filmgoers on vacation. In fact, business throughout Europe should increase significantly vs. last weekend since most theaters there were closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

“Mission” topped the overseas charts last weekend with $45.8 million; international cume is $144.2 million. “Sherlock” and Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” followed, collecting $22 million and $16.5 million, respectively, over the weekend. “Sherlock” has cumed $49 million; “Chipwrecked,” $38.5 million.

In 2010, Universal’s holdover “Little Fockers” won New Year’s weekend with $25.8 million. But that pic dropped 16% in its second weekend, while Par’s No. 2-ranking “True Grit,” also in its soph sesh, fell just 2% for a weekend take of $24.4 million.

This year’s crop should see similarly strong holds because of mostly positive exit polls and word of mouth.

Beside “Mission” and “Sherlock,” high-ranking pics should include Fox’s “Chipwrecked,” Sony’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and Disney-DreamWorks’ “War Horse.” The latter film, which bowed wide Christmas Day, will have more time to prove itself throughout the weekend, while “Dragon Tattoo” has been performing well in midweeks.

“Chipwrecked” cumed north of $63 million, “Dragon Tattoo” $32.5 million and “War Horse” $18.7 million as of Dec. 27.

Two family pics, Fox’s “We Bought a Zoo” and Par’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” also hope to benefit from the lack of new wide releases. “Zoo” has collected $27.7 million domestically; “Tintin,” $18.9 million.

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