‘Sherlock,’ ‘Chipmunks’ Can’t Save Sagging Box Office

Limited release of 'Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol,' however, had record-breaking sales.

More disappointing returns and one record-breaking bright spot were the stories of this past weekend’s box office.

The two new wide releases, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” led the weekend receipts but failed to live up to the high expectations set by the previous movies in each franchise. But the limited IMAX release of “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” signaled more of an uptick in ticket sales.

“Holmes” may have won the weekend with an estimated $40 million, according to Box Office Mojo, but that figure fell far below the original’s $62.3 million in 2009. Lukewarm reviews may have contributed to the slump, but most critics said the sequel, at the very least, lived up to the original. The duo of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law couldn’t capture the same box-office magic as two years ago.

“Chipwrecked” couldn’t come close to the numbers posted by the past two entries in the series, sinking to a distant second behind “Holmes” with an estimated $23.5 million during its opening weekend. That’s a $25.4 million drop from 2009′s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” and a $20.8 million fall from the original. The tumble in tickets came despite a “B+” cinema score.

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” on the other hand, broke records with its limited open. The film launched on roughly 300 IMAX screens around the country and raked in an impressive $13 million. That broke the record for the highest-grossing limited opening ever. “Ghost Protocol” opens wide on Wednesday.

Last week’s leader, the even more disappointing “New Year’s Eve” and “The Sitter” rounded out the top five with huge dips in their second weekends. “New Year’s Eve” fell 43 percent, earning just $7.4 million, and Jonah Hill’s “Sitter” dropped even further with $4.4 million.

In smaller releases, despite snubs from the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes , “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” continued to put up solid numbers. The spy film expanded from four to 16 theaters and added an estimated $452,000 to its 10-day total of $852,000.

What movies are you planning to see this holiday season? Leave your comments below!

Check out everything we’ve got on “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.”

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.

Writer/editor for MTV. If it involves cowboys, spies, or hitmen, I'm there. All three would be ideal.