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New Releases: ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,’ ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,’ ‘The Adventures of Tintin,’ ‘We Bought a Zoo,’ ‘War Horse,’ ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’

Hopefully you want to spend at least some part of your Christmas holiday at the movie theater. A whopping six films open in wide release between now and Dec. 25, with another two arriving in limited-run availability. Toss in expansions for both ‘The Artist’ and ‘My Week With Marilyn,’ and you’ve got a checklist of movies that nearly everyone in your family can enjoy. Your Weekend Movie Preview is here.


‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’
What’s the story: Based on the international best seller by Stieg Larsson, ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ follows the unlikely friendship formed between a disgraced journalist (Daniel Craig) and a damaged computer hacker (Rooney Mara) as they try to solve a decades-old murder on a secluded Swedish island. Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright and Stellan Skarsgard co-star in this adult thriller from director David Fincher.

Box office projection: The buzz on ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ has reached deafening levels, and with pretty good reason: the film is an expert bit of adult entertainment, that would feel like slumming for David Fincher if he didn’t infuse so much of his immense talent into the airplane-read storyline. The property and Daniel Craig are international draws, while here in the U.S., it was assumed that women would come out in force to see Lisbeth Salander onscreen, like they did in print. That doesn’t appear to be the case based on initial tracking, but despite its R-rating, you can assume ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ will clean up this week and right on through Christmas. Three-day weekend total: $ 25 million

[Showtimes & Tickets]

‘The Adventures of Tintin’
What’s the story: Based on the famed comic strip by Belgian artist Herge, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ follows the adventures of Tintin, a young reporter who — with his trusty dog, Snowy — tries to solve a mystery involving a decades old ship and a lost treasure. Steven Spielberg directs with help from producer Peter Jackson.

Box office prediction: Thanks to almost $ 250 million in international grosses so far, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ is performing well at the box office already — and it hasn’t even debuted stateside. Which is probably a good thing. Most Americans don’t actually know Tintin from Snowy or Herge from Adam, but if ‘Tintin’ can catch on with families expect it to have long legs through the winter. Three-day weekend total: $ 12 million

[Showtimes & Tickets]

‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’
What’s the story: Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, Impossible Mission Force extraordinaire who must team with a band of fellow agents (Simon Pegg, Paula Patton) and an analyst (Jeremy Renner) to stop a crazed bit of Eurotrash (Michael Nyqvist) from destroying the world.

Box office prediction: Buoyed by huge IMAX grosses last weekend, ‘Mission: Impossible 4’ is already the belle of the winter box-office ball. With a healthy international outlook and little competition from four-quadrant seeking ticket buyers, ‘Ghost Protocol’ could be the biggest hit of the holiday season. In Tom Cruise Hollywood trusts? Three-day weekend total: $ 38 million

[Showtimes & Tickets]

‘We Bought a Zoo’
What’s the story: Matt Damon stars as Benjamin Mee, a journalist who buys a zoo for his family after his wife dies. Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church co-star in this new film from Cameron Crowe.

Box office prediction: Could ‘We Bought a Zoo’ be the family film choice of the season? Perhaps. Twentieth Century Fox has done a fine job of building homestead buzz for the Crowe-directed film (the studio rank sneak previews over Thanksgiving weekend and again in early December), and ‘Zoo’ has the broad appeal that made ‘Marley & Me’ a hit during Christmas season in 2008. Also of note? Matt Damon, who is still a draw in the right material. Whether that’s ‘Zoo’ remains to be seen, but don’t sleep on what could become a leggy hit. Three-day weekend total: $ 14 million

[Showtimes & Tickets]

‘War Horse’
What’s the story: Because you don’t have enough movie options over Christmas — nor enough movie options directed by Steven Spielberg — here comes ‘War Horse,’ a touching tale of a boy and his horse set against the backdrop of World War I. Expect many Oscar nominations.

Box office prediction: While the idea of spending almost two-and-a-half hours watch a horse that doesn’t talk might not seem like the best way to spend Christmas day, ‘War Horse’ could be the exception. The drama is one of 2011’s best films, rife with beautiful imagery, fantastic performances and an overall message that could only be described as earnest hope. Whether that connects with audiences on Christmas day remains to be seen, but figure ‘War Horse’ to linger in theaters well past the 2012 Academy Awards. Three-day weekend total: $ 4 million

[Showtimes & Tickets]

‘The Darkest Hour’
What’s the story: When aliens attack. Russia. By using the power grid.

Box office prediction: Despite arriving in over 2000 screens on Christmas Day, little is expected from ‘The Darkest Hour.’ The film isn’t screening for critics and audiences don’t seem all that interested in watching Emile Hirsch fight aliens. Sorry, folks. Three-day weekend total: $ 1 million

[Showtimes & Tickets]


Out in six theaters before expanding wide in January is ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,’ the much-debated 9/11 drama starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Elsewhere, Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey,’ arrives.

[Photo: Paramount]

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