Weekend Wrap-Up

Sherlock leaves Chipmunks Chipwrecked

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

December 18, 2011

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In 2005, Christopher Nolan showed how it was possible to reboot a franchise without incorporating the primary villain. With Batman Begins, he brought the Caped Crusader back to theaters, but the Joker was not part of the picture. Instead, Nolan waited until the second film to show audiences the most fascinating villain in the comic book world.

For the 2009 release Sherlock Holmes, Guy Ritchie followed this same blueprint. Instead of putting criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty front and center, he let us get to know Holmes and Watson, the heroes of the story, establishing them as fun and punchy solvers of crime. Now, just as Nolan did with the follow-up The Dark Knight, Ritchie has introduced the Big Bad in the second movie in the series. Would the results mirror what happened with Batman?

Well, not exactly. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows earned $40 million this weekend, which is significantly less than the $62.3 million that the original Sherlock Holmes made during its debut on the weekend of December 25, 2009. However, it’s important to note we have some key differences at play here. For starters, the original Holmes started on Christmas proper, a day that is always stellar for box office results. And in the case of Sherlock Holmes, that Christmas was on Friday itself, which led to a big time Saturday and Sunday as families looking for group activities could all head out over the long weekend and catch a movie together. This is a weekend that broke the three-day overall box office record set the weekend The Dark Knight itself opened.


In fact, people probably don’t remember Sherlock Holmes being as big as it was because it was being outshined by a little movie called Avatar. You know, the film that set the all-time box office record and ran through the holidays of 2009 like a thanator bounding through a forest. Sherlock Holmes came in with a grand total of $209 million, more than the $205 million accrued by Batman Begins, but somehow, it’s viewed as less than what it is.

What we can say is that the prospects for Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows will do quite well in the coming days, thanks to the glorious bounty that is the Christmas box office timeframe. Its $40 million start should still put it in line to approach the total of the original, and it may even match or surpass that $209 million figure if everything plays out correctly. Reviews for the film are not over-the-top positive, but they’re pretty similar to what the first one received, with the added benefit that this time around, the villain is the best one the franchise should have to offer.

Along with Avatar and Sherlock Holmes, there was actually a third film in release in 2009 – one that even beat Sherlock Holmes when it came to final box office. On the heels of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel’s $219 million, the third entry in that kiddie flick franchise will do… quite a bit less.

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