Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol has cruised to victory in the battle of the New Year box office, grossing £8.2 million after its opening weekend in the UK, compared with £4.3m for its nearest rival, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Ghost Protocol, starring Tom Cruise in his fourth outing as super-spy Ethan Hunt, continues a trend that has seen each new Mission: Impossible movie record increased opening weekend takings.
But Paramount studios, which owns the franchise, will be hoping to avoid the continuation of another trend that has seen total box office figures head in the opposite direction, each sequel grossing progressively less than previous instalments.
In 1996, Mission: Impossible took just £4.2 million from its opening weekend, but £18.7 million overall, while in 2006 Mission: Impossible III managed a total of just £15.5 million.
Ghost Protocol's main competition remains The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The first instalment in the thriller trilogy, adapted from Stieg Larsson's bestselling novel, would seem to have a built-in audience, and boasts a big-name star in Daniel Craig to compete with Tom Cruise.