The box office got a boost as 2011 departed and 2012 arrived. Sales were up considerably from last weekend's Christmas holiday and the new year is off to a solid start. But despite those bits of good news, overall 2011 was anything but a banner year for ticket sales.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked held on to their top three spots for a second weekend in a row, and with no new competition they saw sales that added nicely to their previously mediocre sales totals.

One big winner this weekend, all things considered, was War Horse. The World War I drama had been languishing at number seven when it opened wide last weekend, but attendance jumped this week and with close to $20 million in sales over the four day holiday weekend stormed its way to fourth place.

The only new entries this weekend were in limited release, most notably the Weinstein Company's Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady. In just 4 theatres it topped $280,000 in just four days. The question now is whether or not the lukewarm reviews it has received will hurt its performance when it opens wide in the new year.

Box Office Mojo placed the total box office sales for 2011 at $10.1 billion, making it lower than the $10.5 billion in 2009 and $10.6 billion in 2010. Notably, it's the second year in a row to see a drop in sales. It's clear the big screen is in decline where sales are concerned. The question is whether or not this is a blip in the numbers that will could be reversed in the coming year, or the beginning of a major change in how American's spend their entertainment dollar. 2012 will be an important year to watch.

For the New Year's weekend top ten, check out the chart below:

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol $38,325,000 Total: $141,214,000 LW: 1     WR: 3    
THTRS: 3,455
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows $26,510,000 Total: $136,514,000 LW: 2     WR: 3    
THTRS: 3,703
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked $21,000,000 Total: $97,359,000 LW: 4     WR: 3    
THTRS: 3,724
War Horse $19,219,000 Total: $45,248,000 LW: 7     WR: 2    
THTRS: 2,547
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) $19,000,000 Total: $60,011,000 LW: 3     WR: 2    
THTRS: 2,914
We Bought a Zoo $16,500,000 Total: $43,987,000 LW: 6     WR: 2    
THTRS: 3,163
The Adventures of Tintin $15,000,000 Total: $50,841,000 LW: 5     WR: 2    
THTRS: 3,087
New Year's Eve $7,735,000 Total: $47,397,000 LW: 8     WR: 4    
THTRS: 2,225
The Darkest Hour $5,250,000 Total: $14,228,000 LW: 9     WR: 2    
THTRS: 2,327
The Descendants $4,250,000 Total: $40,275,000 LW: 13     WR: 7    
THTRS: 758

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