Updated Saturday, 9:40 a.m. PT
The last weekend of 2011 is giving the box office reason to cheer: "Mission: Impossible 4" pulled in nearly $11 million on Friday — and has crossed the $100 million mark domestically.
It is the second film of the holiday season to hit that mark.
The Warner Bros. action film "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" has now grossed an estimated $117.7 million. It took in $7.65 million on Friday.
Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," meanwhile, grossed $7.1 million Friday for a total of $83.5 million.
In limited release, "Iron Lady," the Weinstein Company's biopic about Margaret Thatcher, took in a solid $76,348 at four locations — an average of $19,087 per location.
The continuing strength of "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol" is especially noteworthy because the Paramount/Skydance movie has now surpassed two milestones. On Thursday, it crossed the $100 million mark domestically and the $300 million mark worldwide.
By the end of this weekend, Paramount expects the film will have taken in nearly $143 million domestically.
Other movies now in wide release are having mixed results:
Sony's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" took in $5.35 million on Friday. Fox's "We Bought a Zoo" grossed $4.9 million. DreamWorks' "War Horse" drew $4.7 million. And Paramount's "The Adventures of Tintin" managed $4.4 million.
The 2011 box office will officially close its books this weekend, with no new movies debuting in wide release. Christmas holiday holdovers "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol" and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" are expected to lead what is typically a weak New Year's weekend frame.
As usual, a handful of specialty movies will use the schedule opening to make their limited debuts: Among them, Focus Features' "Pariah," which opened in four New York and California theaters Wednesday, averaging an impressive $5,456 per location; and the Weinstein Company's "Iron Lady," a Margaret Thatcher biopic starring Meryl Streep, opening at four locations Friday.
Paramount's "M:I:4," directed by Brad Bird and shot at a cost of about $145 million, had grossed an estimated $94.6 million domestically and $180 million internationally through Wednesday.
The Tom Cruise thriller is expected to gross another $40 million over the long four-day holiday weekend.
After getting out of the gate slow in mid-December, meanwhile, Warner's "Sherlock Holmes" sequel has found momentum at the box office and aims to keep it this weekend.
The Guy Ritchie movie, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, grossed $39.6 million in its first weekend — significantly less than the $62.3 million that its predecessor, the 2009 "Sherlock Holmes," took when it opened.
But the PG-13 movie, which cost $125 million to make, has steadily attracted audiences. On Wednesday, it became the first film of the holiday season to cross the $100 million threshold domestically.
The second "Sherlock" movie is predicted by box-office watchers outside Warner to gross somewhere around $30 million over the four-day holiday-weekend frame.
Meanwhile, also looking to sustain box-office momentum will be "War Horse," Steven Spielberg's World War I drama.
The DreamWorks movie cost about $70 million to make and opened on Christmas Day to a surprisingly strong $7.5 million. It has grossed $22.4 million since Sunday.
DreamWorks expects the film, which has been nominated for two Golden Globes and is widely expected to receive several Oscar nominations, to have a steady run through February.
Spielberg's other movie now in release, Paramount's "The Adventures of Tintin," on the other hand, is still searching for a domestic audience.
Despite being nominated for a Golden Globe for best animated feature film, the movie has failed to spark the sort of interest at home as it has internationally.
Paramount is hoping the PG-rated movie, based on the Belgian comic books, to gross $18 million over the four days. That would bring its domestic total to $54 million.
But don't cry for Spielberg.
While American audiences aren't quite embracing "Tintin," international audiences love it. The movie, which cost about $135 million to make, has grossed nearly $240 million abroad. And it's just entering its second week of domestic release.
Reserve the sympathy for two directors who usually don't require tears: David Fincher and Cameron Crowe.
Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," Sony's R-rated movie based on Stieg Larsson's bestselling novel, is limping into its second week of release. The movie opened the evening of Dec. 20.
As of Tuesday, the movie, which stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, had grossed only about $32.5 million domestically. A movie with a big-name actor, a big-name director and big-name source material would be expected to perform better. But it's a tough movie for Christmastime — a hard R film about murder, incest and rape.
While there's plenty to be said for counterprogramming, this highly anticipated movie, which cost an estimated $100 million to make, hasn't yet caught on in nearly the numbers initially expected. But it's certainly a better New Year's Eve movie than Christmas film.
Crowe, meanwhile, wrote and directed Fox's PG-rated family film "We Bought a Zoo," which opened Dec. 23, may have his second miss in a row.
His 2005 Paramount film "Elizabethtown" grossed only $52 million worldwide — $26.8 million domestically — on a $45 million budget.
"We Bought a Zoo," which opened to a soft $9.4 million, is certain to beat that movie's domestic total. As of Wednesday, it had taken in $23.4 million in North America.
The movie stars Matt Damon, and had a budget estimated at $50 million.
Although it grossed a mere $3 million on opening day — a figure that tumbled to $1.9 million on Christmas Eve — it has rebounded nicely, taking $4.5 million on Christmas Day, $5.2 million on Dec. 26, $4.3 million Dec. 27 and $4 million Dec. 28.
Because "Zoo" and Fox's other movie now in release, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" are the only family movies playing, "Zoo" could have a respectable weekend.
"Alvin," a $75 million G-rated movie that opened to $23.2 million Dec. 16, continues to have better numbers than "Zoo." It has grossed just short of $70 million domestically, and is drawing strong audiences and hasn't grossed less than $6.5 million a day since Christmas, when it grossed $4.4 million.