‘Mission: Impossible’ on track to win holiday B.O.

'Protocol' earns north of $9 million Friday; 'Sherlock' grosses around $7M

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is looking to beat the holiday crowd this weekend for the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office.

Based on early Friday afternoon numbers, box office watchers estimate the Par pic to earn just north of $9 million for the day, putting the Tom Cruise-starrer in line to gross at around $35.5 million between now and Monday. Pic’s domestic cume as of Thursday is $32.4 million, including the film’s exclusive large-format bow last weekend.

Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” should follow in B.O. standing, with early projections putting the film’s Friday-Monday total between $28 million to $30 million. Analysts say that’s based off of a Friday gross estimated at around $7 million.

“Sherlock” has cumed domestically $58.8 million through Thursday.

Pundits caution, however, that projecting box office grosses is difficult enough without the complications of a holiday weekend, especially one where Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday. Similar comparisons have to go back to 2005, when five films opened wide over the holiday weekend.

Fox’s family holdover “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” is looking to earn at around $4.6 million Friday, with B.O. observers projecting the film to tally between $19 million and $20 million in four days. “Alvin’s” current Stateside cume stands at $36.9 million.

Tracking to do slightly less business, Sony’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is expected to earn roughly $18 million over the four-day weekend; pic’s projected to make $4 million Friday, with a cume of $8.4 million domestically.

Pundits insist that “Tattoo” should fare best on Christmas Eve, as it has the most appeal with adult auds.

Meanwhile, Fox newcomer “We Bought a Zoo” is likely to earn today just north of $3 million, yielding a four-day estimate in the $13 million-$14 million range. That would put it just a hair ahead of Par’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” which looks to make between $3 million and $4 million on Friday. Pic could earn about $13 million to $14 million over the long holiday frame, and has cumed $8 million domestically.

Though Christmas Eve is a traditionally dead time at the multiplexes, Sunday by mid-afternoon should see a major pop in theatergoing that will continue throughout next week.