It was a Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Festivus for the rest of us and Tom Cruise.  The actor and producer’s fourth M:I film, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, climbed Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and the four-day holiday weekend box office to #1 over five new films and two sequels.

Known for Disney & Pixars’ The Incredibles and Ratatouille, Brad Bird’s non-animated directorial debut premiered the previous weekend in limited release (425 theaters) at #3 with $12.785 million and then received a wide release on Wednesday, December 21st (an unusual release date as the first three movies of the franchise all debuted in May for the summer blockbuster season).  Cruise and the team of Paula Patton (Just Wright), Simon Pegg (Paul) and Jeremy Renner (Thor) grossed $46.21 million at 3,448 theaters, a 261.4% increase.  M:I4 surpassed its $145 million production budget with the addition of $140 million from the foreign box office to a total of $235.345 million worldwide.

Last week’s #1 and #2 of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked each dropped one to #2 and #3, respectively.  Robert Downey Jr.’ s Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law’s John Watson in director Guy Ritchies’s second outing with the detective and doctor grossed $31.01 million to chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore’s $19.528 million in their second weekend.  The sequels were closely followed by box office rookies, Cameron Crowe’s based-on-a-true-story #6 We Bought a Zoo ($14.604 million), Steven Spielberg’s animated #5 The Adventures of Tintin ($16.1 million) and non-animated #7 War Horse ($14.527 million) and David Fincher’s American version of #4 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ($19.4 million).

The Russian alien invasion film, The Darkest Hour, starring Speed Racer‘s Emile Hirsch, premiered on Christmas Day and barely survived the new holiday movie rush.  The 3D and RealD 3D horror-sci-fi movie was the second directorial feature from Chris Gorak, who directed 2006’s Right at Your Door.  In just two days, the $30 million #9 The Darkest Hour grossed $5.072 million domestically at 2,324 theaters under Garry Marshall’s second holiday-based romantic comedy #8 New Year’s Eve ($5.195 million), and over award-winning (National Board of Review) and nominated (Golden Globes) #10 Hugo ($3.3 million).

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