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B.O. holdovers should ward off ‘Devil’

'M:I4' and 'Sherlock' look to carry weekend

Paramount’s low-budget scarer “The Devil Inside” ushers in a new year at the domestic box office as the weekend’s only wide release. But if overall B.O. is to start stronger than it did in 2011, holiday holdovers, led by Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” and Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” will have to do most of the heavy lifting.

Overseas B.O., meanwhile, should see similar jockeying between “Mission,” with a $228 million international cume, and “Sherlock,” which has taken $106 million internationally.

“Devil Inside” — the second title for Par’s genre label Insurge — is projected to grab at least $8 million-$10 million through Sunday — a bow consistent with how such films typically open in early January. Relativity Media’s “Season of the Witch” launched during the same frame last year with $10.6 million domestically.

Last year’s frame also relied heavily on top holiday leftovers, as Par’s “True Grit” won with $14.6 million, down 40% from its previous frame. Universal’s “Little Fockers” was second with $13.5 million, down 48%.

Observers expect this weekend’s top repeat players — coming off heightened New Year’s traffic — to see a similar drop between 40% and 50% vs. the previous frame. If that holds true, “Mission,” which collected $29.4 million during last weekend’s three-day sesh, should lead the pack with approximately $15 million, while “Sherlock” can be expected to hit just north of $10 million, based on the pic’s $21 million New Year’s Friday-to-Sunday gross.

Domestically, “Mission” tallied $147.2 million through Wednesday; “Sherlock,” $141.5 million.

While “Devil Inside” may not provide much of an overall boost to the marketplace, Paramount, at least, should be covered financially. Studio spent just $1 million to acquire rights for the exorcism pic from producers Morris Paulson and Matthew Peterman. William Brent Bell helmed and co-wrote the film along with Peterman.

Genre pics have historically dominated this corridor: New Line’s exorcism tale “The Rite” opened wide at the end of January 2011 to almost $15 million.

Beside “Mission: Impossible” and “Sherlock Holmes,” there are plenty of other holdovers to lure filmgoers. Fox’s toon threequel “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” recently crossed the $100 million mark domestically, and Sony’s adult crowd-pleaser “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” with a Stateside cume of $63.8 million, has been performing well during midweeks — even beating “Alvin.”

Family auds likely will continue to play catch-up with Disney-DreamWorks’ “War Horse,” as well as Fox’s “We Bought a Zoo” and Par’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” which leads the bunch domestically with $54 million. “Zoo” and “War Horse” have cumed around $70 million each.

Focus Features’ “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is expected to dominate specialty B.O. headlines, as the pic expands to more than 800 Stateside playdates, up from 57 last weekend. “Tinker” has played exceedingly well since bowing Dec. 9, with a domestic cume nearing $5 million.

A trio of low-profile pics bow in limited release, led by Image Entertainment’s Dennis Quaid starrer “Beneath the Darkness,” at nine engagements, followed by a two-theater run of Japanese pic “Norwegian Wood,” distribbed theatrically and on VOD by Red Flag Releasing. Magnolia Pictures’ indie drama “Roadie” bows today at one location; pic had a VOD release on Dec. 2.

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