The fourth instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise has opened strongly at the local box office over the weekend.

Directed by Oscar-winner Brad Bird, the action blockbuster Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol opened at number one, raking in $4.1 million across 414 screens. The spy flick, which was partially filmed using IMAX cameras, earnt a screen average of almost $10,000.

It opened last Wednesday at IMAX ahead of its broad release and grossed more than $1 million after its first day – 38 per cent higher than the last instalment at the same stage.

The Paramount-distributed big-budget blockbuster marks Bird's first live-action feature film. He's best known for directing Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles and Ratatouille.

The plot revolves around the IMF which is shut down when it’s implicated in a global terrorist bombing plot. Ghost Protocol is initiated and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his rogue new team must go undercover to clear their organisation’s name.

3D animated film Puss In Boots, also distributed by Paramount, dropped to second place, grossing another $2.2 million from 512 screens in its second weekend. It's now grossed $7.7 million in Australia and $US331 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

Directed by Chris Miller, the flick follows the fighting feline before his first appearance in Shrek 2 in 2004. It will soon go head-to-head with another 3D animated film – Happy Feet Two – which opens in Australia on Boxing Day.

Warner Bros’ rom-com New Year’s Eve again followed behind Puss In Boots to net third position at the box office, adding a further $1.7 million to its pot in its second weekend (from 335 screens). It’s now taken $5.9 million locally.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is starting to slow down a little after five weeks, grossing $587,793 – a 49 per cent drop on last weekend. It’s made an impressive $27.3 million. In comparison, Eclipse (2010) and New Moon (2009) made $32.4 million and $38.7 million respectively.

Adam Sandler’s latest, Jack and Jill, took out fifth place over the weekend, making $559,313 for Sony across 227 screens. It’s grossed $4.6 million in three weeks.

In local films, The Eye of the Storm had a 47 per cent bounce in box office takings from last weekend, grossing $10,195 from 10 screens (last weekend it took $6951). It’s set to be the fifth biggest film of 2011 – as The Cup, which has just finished its theatrical run, is sitting comfortably in fourth position.

Jonathan Teplitzky’s Burning Man, also distributed by Paramount/Transmission, took $4960 in its fifth weekend, also on 10 screens while Autoluminescent (Umbrella) made $1198 from just one screen.

Boxing Day, essentially this year “Steven Spielberg Day”, is set to be pretty big. Legendary director Spielberg has two blockbusters opening – The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse. It will go up against local film Happy Feet Two (Roadshow), Albert Nobbs (eOne), Tower Heist (Universal), We Bought A Zoo (Fox), The Iron Lady (Icon), The Salt of Life (Rialto), Don 2 (Mindblowing Films) and The Skin I Live In (Paramount). Human Centipede 2 will also be screening from Boxing Day at Cinema Nova, Melbourne.

Australian films at the box office 2011

Source: IF Magazine, MPDAA

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