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Our Movie Standings: The Cavalry Is Here To Save Hollywood's Worst December Ever

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Our Movie Standings: The Cavalry Is Here To Save Hollywood's Worst December Ever

AFP/Getty Images

Tom Cruise poses at the Taj Mahal in Agra on Saturday. Sporting a big grin and sunglasses, the Hollywood star, who is on a worldwide promotional tour for his fourth "Mission: Impossible" movie, told reporters in the Indian capital he was "very excited to be here" as cameramen jostled to film him.

Every Monday PopcornBiz applies a special formula to the top 10-grossing movies of the weekend, taking into account their staying power, budget and critic ratings to determine who really won the weekend. We call it the PopcornBiz Standings.

After enduring the reign of "New Year's Eve" atop the box office last week, we Americans were finally treated to a proper release slate of big Hollywood movies this past weekend. It's not enough to make up for what has been the sorriest December in Hollywood history, but at least we now have the option of plunking down $17 to watch Tom Cruise hang off the side of a Dubai skyscraper in IMAX. Here is the final box office chart via Box Office Mojo.

1. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - $40.2M 2. Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked - $23.5M 3. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - $13.0M 4. New Year's Eve - $7.4M 5. The Sitter - $4.4M 6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - $4.3M 7. Young Adult - $3.7M 8. Hugo - $3.6M 9. Arthur Christmas - $3.6M 10. The Muppets - $3.5M

"M:I4" debuted on just 425 screens for an average of over $30,000 per screen (hooray IMAX surcharges!). The limited release strategy will pay off handsomely for director Brad Bird, because "Ghost Protocol" has gotten incredible reviews and even landed on a handful of top ten lists already. Once it hits wide release on Wednesday, it should take over the top spot. As for how it does against in our PBCS standings against the Clooney Luau Of Sadness... BEHOLD!

1. The Descendants - 244 2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - 202 3. Young Adult - 135 4. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - 102 5. The Muppets - 29 6. Arthur Christmas - 11 7. Hugo - 10 8. Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked -6 9. The Sitter - 5 10. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - 4

In many ways, I wonder if our little formula makes too much of a deal out of a movie's budget. "The Descendants" is probably in its down cycle at this point, and "MI:4" deserves proper credit for all those great reviews and packed IMAX theaters. But the formula is the formula, and when you earn back less than a tenth of your original budget over the weekend, it's gonna hurt you. The opening weekend for "Sherlock Holmes" was down nearly one third from the first installment, which doesn't bode well for the franchise's long-term health. Meanwhile, Charlize Theron storms into the Top 3 with "Young Adult" opening in wide release. Expect a lot of these smaller Oscar contenders to pop up on our radar as their theater count increases. America will surely demand more of Gary Oldman's glasses and Michael Fassbender's exposed manhood.

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