Tom Cruise Enthuses in MI:4; Leads Weekend Box Office 1Tom Cruise is getting thumbs up all around for “Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” The high-action film topped the holiday box office with $26.5 million in North American sales, and left not doubt that Cruise can still draw an audience.

The tightly paced Brad Bird-directed film leaps from one action sequence to the next. It’s less a movie with action scenes and more action scenes with just enough dialogue in between to claim its a movie.

Still the formula–and let’s face it the movie is highly formulaic–is a hit with both critics and movie goers. It netted a 93 percent rating on Web site rottentomatoes, which tracks reviews. It scored 89 percent on audience surveys.

Paramount Pictures, which released the movie, expects to take in more than $40 million by Monday, when final estimates are reported. The film’s total holiday ticket sales are expected to reach just over $72 million.

Over this holiday weekend, with the economy still uncertain, moviegoers seemed to favor escapism and action instead of feel-good films.

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” finished second in sales with $17.8 million, despite being panned by critics. “Sherlock,” after two weeks, has now grossed $76.5 million.

Kid fare “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” finished third with $13.3 million in ticket sales, also in the face of poor reviews. All three top films are in the second week.

The weekend’s biggest up-lifter, “We Bought a Zoo,” with Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, was an also-ran out of the gate. It finished with $7.8 million, with generally favorable reviews.

The film debuted along with “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and “The Adventures of Tintin 3D.” Both were favored by critics.

The highly anticipated “Dragon Tattoo,” with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, earned $13 million, while Steven Spielberg’s “Tintin” pulled in $9.1 million over the three-day weekend.

“Dragon Tattoo” has grossed $21.4 million since its debut on Dec. 21.

Spielberg’s widely-anticipated “War Horse” debuted in 2,376 theaters on Sunday (Dec. 25) and earned a higher than expected $7.5 million, according to deadlinehollywood.