Early B.O.: ‘Sherlock’ on track to win in $40Ms

'Mission: Impossible' large-format-only bow tracking to impressive $11m

Box office pundits are projecting Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” to gross between $14 million and $15 million in the U.S. on Friday, putting it on track to win the weekend with a three-day total in the low-to-mid $40 million range.

The Friday take alone could pop with evening auds, especially because it’s the last schoolday before holiday break for many families.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox toon “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” will likely rank second, with observers putting the family film’s Friday take at around $10 million, putting it on course for a $30 million three-day gross. More reserved estimations, however, peg the pic’s weekend take slightly lower.

Par’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” is also opening today — but exclusively on large-format screens (425 of them, most of which are IMAX) a week before its wide release. Though box office observers stress the difficulty in predicting this first-ever large-format-only release, the Tom Cruise pic was on pace to earn an impressive $11 million-plus for the weekend, perhaps in part because a seven-minute prologue to “The Dark Knight Rises” will play in front of it.

B.O. watchers estimate that Par holdover “Young Adult” will earn shy of $3 million for the weekend, while WB’s holdover “New Year’s Eve” is looking to take in around $7 million, at most, pushing it over $20 million gross for two weekends. Fox’s “The Sitter” is poised to earn under $5 million.