The holiday season is on us, and – though often there’s hit films over the last two months of the year – it seems this year the last couple films of 2011 are crammed in like a poorly packed suitcase. Last week was softer than soft, but this week brings Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Alvin and the Chimpmunks: Chipwrecked and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. If you’re a theater owner, it’s time to stock up on your colons.

As I was saying last week, I don’t know if Sherlock Holmes is a real brand name in the scheme of things. Perhaps the brand is “Robert Downey Jr. in action.” That should be enough for the film to get open, but where it sat under the jet stream of Avatar’s massive fiscal coup, next week it faces real competition and will be – to extend the metaphor – flying into the headwind. Where the last film managed an impressive $200 million plus domestic gross, this will likely top out at around $150 or so. Next week Tintin should get the young adults, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo should get the real adults, and word on this one is not strong. Still, let’s say $50 plus, because why not.

Alvin and the Chipmunks seems to have completed its trilogy. The first two managed to do over $200, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if this continues that trend. Perhaps the tide has turned, but the next couple holiday weeks means that the film has time to play long. The films are short and keep kids busy, so that’s good enough to be good enough. Kids films are tricky, it’s possible parents have turned against these films. But more than likely it will be coasting until Beauty and the Beast 3-D hits in January.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is going the Imax route until next Wednesday. Expect sell out shows because The Dark Knight Rises Imax prologue. The film is good, so it could be a powerhouse through much of January.

This week finally kicks theaters back to life, but – again – with so many pictures between now and Christmas, there’s going to be at least one or two that misfire. Box office-wise, this has been a disappointing year. It’s hard to think that trend won’t continue.

So let’s get numbers:

  1. Sherlock Holmes 2 - $49.3 Million
  2. Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 - $27.9 Million
  3. Mission Impossible 4 – $10.2 Million
  4. New Year’s Eve – $5.8 Million
  5. The Sitter – $5.1 Million

Sherlock and Alvin could be much bigger, it all depends on the hunger. Neither seems like appointment viewing like – say – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (where there are definite fans who will go, even if it opens to less). Both will win or lose with their last minute marketing pushes.

What are you going to see this weekend?