"Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" shot its way to the top of the box office Wednesday, collecting a solid $8.6 million, according to early studio estimates.
By contrast, on the Wednesday before Christmas last year, Universal's "Little Fockers" was the No. 1 film with just $7.1 million.
The strong "M:I:4" showing led a flurry of strong weekday performances by other new films Wednesday.
In its first full day of domestic wide release, Sony's "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" grossed $3.5 million at 2,914 domestic locations.
Paramount's Steven Spielberg-directed "Tintin," meanwhile, took $2.3 million during its U.S. debut Wednesday. It's playing at 3,087 theaters in the U.S. and Canada."
In its sixth day of release, "Sherlock Holmes -- A Game of Shadows" grossed $4.3 million, continuing a strong rebound after a disappointing first weekend.
Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," also in its sixth day, is posting strong numbers, as well. The G-rated movie grossed $3.5 million on Tuesday -- a 29 percent increase from Monday -- and another $3.5 million on Wednesday. Its total domestic gross is now just short of $33 million.
Paramount/Skydance's "M:I:4" -- the fourth in the "Mission: Impossible" series -- now has grossed $25.7 million domestically and $85 million internationally.
The PG-13 film, directed by Brad Bird and starring Tom Cruise, opened at 425 large-format screens Friday. Its wide release began at 5 p.m. Tuesday, making Wednesday its first full day of wide release. It is now screening at 3,455 locations.
Warner Bros.' "Sherlock Holmes -- A Game of Shadows," which opened to $39.6 million, has grossed a total of $54 million. The PG-13 movie directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, is showing signs of strength at its 3,703 locations. The movie took in $4.9 million on Monday, $5.2 million on Tuesday.
Sony's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," David Fincher's R-rated adaptation of Stieg Larsson's novels, opened at 7 p.m. Tuesday. In its first five hours of release, the movie grossed $1.55 million. It more than doubled that in its first full day Wednesday, and has now taken in a total of $5.1 million at 2,914 locations.
Paramount's other new release, Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin," opened at 3,087 locations Wednesday and, because it opened in Quebec Dec. 9, now has a North American total of $5.57 million. Internationally, the motion-capture animated movie has grossed nearly $240 million.
This is the weekend Hollywood has been looking forward to. After a wretched few weeks, studios are expecting audiences to return to movies in large numbers.
Still to be released: Fox's comedy "We Bought a Zoo," on Friday, and DreamWorks' World War I drama "War Horse," also from Spielberg, which hits theaters on Sunday. Also Sunday, Summit releases its R-rated sci-fi thriller "The Darkest Hour."