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The movie already has opened in 36 overseas markets, where it pulled in $68.2 million, putting its global haul at more than $80 million.

With critics praising the movie’s spectacular action sequences, “Ghost Protocol” may restore the hitmaker status of Cruise, whose audience became disenchanted with odd antics in the star’s personal life five or six years ago.

“I would think any of that is way in the past,” said Don Harris, head of distribution at Paramount, which took the unusual step of going early in huge-screen cinemas to build buzz for the general release.

“The plan was always to put the movie out into the best presentation theaters in North America,” Harris said. “We hoped that people would recognize how good the movie was and how special it was being treated.”

Paramount’s comic drama “Young Adult,” starring Charlize Theron, had a weak expansion into wider release, finishing at No. 7 with $3.7 million. The film had opened with big numbers a week earlier in a handful of theaters.

At the beginning of 2011, Hollywood’s summer and fall lineup looked so strong that studio executives were predicting the industry would break the domestic box-office record of $10.6 billion set in 2009, a mark that was nearly reached again in 2010.

But with less than two weeks left and revenues lagging 4 percent behind last year’s, that record is out of reach. The picture is even bleaker factoring in this year’s higher ticket prices, which mean attendance is running 5 percent below last year’s.

Hollywood still can go out with a bang. Along with the new “Mission: Impossible,” the holidays bring two more big thrillers _ Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” and David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” _ along with Spielberg’s historical epic “War Horse” and Cameron Crowe and Matt Damon’s family-friendly comic drama “We Bought a Zoo.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” $40 million ($14.7 million international).

2. “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,” $23.5 million ($14.5 million international).

3. “Mission: Impossible _ Ghost Protocol,” $13 million ($68.2 million international).

4. “New Year’s Eve,” $7.4 million.

5. “The Sitter,” $4.4 million.

6. “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn _ Part 1,” $4.3 million.

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