Sherlock slips with sequel debut
Sherlock Holmes is facing his worst enemy - declining crowds at US cinemas as this year's movie attendance dipped to the lowest in 16 years.
Robert Downey Jr's sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows debuted on top with a 40 million dollar weekend, down 36 per cent from the first instalment's 62.3 million opening two years ago, according to studio estimates.
The first movie opened over Christmas weekend, one of the busiest times for US cinemas. Distributor Warner Bros predicts the Holmes sequel, which pits Downey's detective against archrival Professor Moriarty, will make up the lost ground over the holidays.
"The pattern is different," said Dan Fellman, the studio's head of distribution. "What you can put in the bank those nine days before the official Christmas play time, that's the difference between our opening with a bigger number on Christmas Day and opening early this time. At the end of the holiday period, we should be in the same place."
The Holmes sequel opened in six overseas markets, including the detective's native Britain, and took in 14.7 million dollars to bring its worldwide total to 54.7 million.
After two previous weekends that were Hollywood's worst of the year, overall business was down again, about 12 per cent lower than the same weekend in 2010 as Hollywood struggles to interest audiences in its big year-end releases.
The 20th Century Fox family sequel Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked did even worse than Holmes. It opened at number two with 23.5 million dollars, about half the business the first two Chipmunks movies did on their debut weekends.