B.O. should see a much-needed lift

Hollywood has something to prove after last weekend saw the lowest domestic B.O. tally in three years. But with a pair of heavyweight titles entering the marketplace — Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and 20th Century Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” — the biz has reason to be optimistic. Launching today at 3,703 locations, “Sherlock” should have no trouble winning the weekend with a projected bow in the $50 millions, while the “Alvin” threequel (at 3,723) is expected to hit a modest $25 million through Sunday, according to Fox.

Other B.O. observers say both pics could do better — closer to the tallies of their predecessor pics.

Warner’s “Sherlock Holmes” bowed to $62 million during Christmas weekend 2009. The second “Alvin” pic debuted to almost $49 million, also Christmas weekend. The original “Alvin” pic is a better direct comparison for “Chipwrecked,” as it bowed to $44 million during the comparable frame in 2007.

Either way, B.O. should see a much-needed lift, with additional help from Paramount’s week-early bow of “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” at 425 large-screen theaters, most of which are Imax.

Par preemed “Ghost Protocol” today for more than 5,000 students, who were the winners of the Get Schooled Foundation’s 2011 attendance challenge.

Pre-weekend expectations are bright for “Ghost Protocol,” which could see $15 million-$16 million in three days, including midnight Thursday screenings. That would be an especially fine start for the film, even with the average $3.50-$5 premium ticket upcharge.

“Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” launches a week before the U.S. in a total of 44 overseas territories, including Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and Spain. Fox’s “Alvin,” meanwhile, bows day-and-date this weekend, but only six of its 38 debut territories are major markets.

Looking to bolster Stateside coffers, Par’s dark comedy “Young Adult” expands to 986 locations after last weekend’s limited rollout.

“Game of Shadows” marks the first all-audience pic to kickstart the holiday sesh; last year, Disney’s “Tron: Legacy” bowed this weekend to the season’s highest opening of $44 million. Moreover, “Chipwrecked” should outdo “Yogi Bear,” which opened to just north of $16 million.

With this weekend’s collective tally, added to next weekend’s influx of six wide releases (including “Mission: Impossible”), some B.O. pundits are confident that year-to-date totals can still come close to the 2010 figure.

At the specialty B.O., Sony Classics’ “Carnage,” which snared two Globe noms, bows at five locations in New York and L.A.

Fox Searchlight’s NC-17-rated “Shame,” which collected a Globes nom for Michael Fassbender, widens from 21 to 51 engagements, with an additional nine U.S. cities. Pic should cross $1 million domestically this weekend.

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