(Updates with final weekend totals.)
Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” collected $46.2 million in U.S. and Canadian cinemas over the holiday weekend, clinching Paramount Pictures’ first annual domestic box-office title in at least a decade.
The studio, part of Viacom Inc., heads into the last week of the year with $1.86 billion in sales through Dec. 25, including films carried over from 2010, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., the leader for the previous four years, is second with $1.76 billion.
“These are like two big behemoths duking it out, like Godzilla and King Kong, and they both generated a ton of money in a tough year,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com’s box-office division.
Counting only films released this year, the two studios are close, Dergarabedian said. Attendance for 2011 will probably fall to 1.269 billion tickets sold, the smallest annual total since 1.264 billion were purchased in 1995, he said. Through yesterday, domestic box-office sales fell 4.2 percent to $9.99 billion. Attendance was off 5.1 percent.
The top 2011 film for Los Angeles-based Paramount was “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” with $352.4 million in U.S. and Canadian sales, according to Box Office Mojo. Burbank, California-based Warner Bros. had the industry’s top-grossing movie of 2011 in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” which took in $381 million domestically.
Scheduling contributed to the year’s decline, along with other media that vied for moviegoer attention, such as holiday video games, Dergarabedian said. Five new films opened last weekend, including two from Steven Spielberg.
“There was no movie aimed at the young male between ‘The Immortals’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes,’” Dergarabedian said.
In that five-week span since Nov. 11, the game “‘Call of Duty’ came out, and you can’t ignore those other markets,” he said. “The studios really need to look at the big picture, the competitive landscape, including video games.”
End-of-year films, including the new “Sherlock Holmes” movie and Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” failed to generate enough sales to lift revenue past the $10.6 billion collected in 2010. Studios have struggled to attract audiences to a 2011 lineup filled with sequels and a record 36 movies in 3-D.
“You started off with an awful first quarter, and that was just a case of bad content,” said Martin Pyykkonen, an analyst with Wedge Partners Corp., an independent equity-analysis group based in Greenwood Village, Colorado.
“‘Green Hornet’ was the biggest example,” he said. “The other problem was during the summer, you just had a lot of crowding of good films that just couldn’t get enough breathing room.”
Through the Christmas weekend, Sony Pictures is in third place for 2011 with $1.33 billion in U.S. and Canadian sales. The top domestic film for the Culver City, California-based unit of Sony Corp. was “The Smurfs,” with $142.6 million.
Walt Disney Co., based in Burbank, is fourth with $1.2 billion in revenue, led by $241.1 million from “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” according to Box Office Mojo. Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures is fifth with $1.17 billion and News Corp.’s Fox studio is sixth with $1.05 billion.
Last weekend’s leader, “Ghost Protocol,” collected its $46.2 million over the four-day holiday weekend and has taken in $78.6 million in two weeks of release for Paramount.
The film, the fourth in the “Mission Impossible” series, opened Dec. 16 for an exclusive, five-day run in large-screen theaters, including 300 Imax Corp. locations, before moving to wide release on Dec. 21.
In the latest release, Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, leader of an elite special-operations squad that takes on the government’s most difficult assignments. This time, team members go underground to clear their names after being falsely implicated in a bombing at the Kremlin. The movie also features Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg.
Sony’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” opened with sales of $19.4 million. The film features Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker employed by a security firm. She joins with a journalist, played by Daniel Craig, to investigate a chain of homicides. The movie is a remake of a Swedish film based on the novel by Stieg Larsson.
“The Adventures of Tintin,” Spielberg’s adaption of the comic books by Belgian author Herge, took in $16.1 million over the four days. Distributed by Paramount, the picture tells the story of an intrepid young journalist who tries to unravel the mystery surrounding a lost treasure. The computer-animated film features the voices of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig.
Three other films opened last week. “We Bought a Zoo” from Fox collected $14.6 million over the weekend, while Spielberg’s “War Horse” took in $14.5 million for Disney, its distributor. “The Darkest Hour,” from Summit Entertainment LLC, opened with sales of $5.07 million.
Weekend revenue for the top 12 films fell 15 percent to $114.3 million from a year ago, Hollywood.com said. The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Dec. 23 to Dec. 26.
op 12 Films Grosses
This Week Year Ago *Pct.
(mln) (mln) Chg. ===================================
$114.3 $135.3 -15
YTD YTD Pct.
(mln) (mln) Chg. ===================================
$9,988 $10,427 -4.2
Year-to-date Attendance: -5.1%
*Represents three-day percent change