The end of 2011 saw the box office in the doldrums, but things are now looking up, as this week saw both Chronicle and The Woman In Black open to more than $20 million each – much more than analysts predicted.

Science Fiction effort Chronicle was the champion, grossing an estimated $22 million. The low budget superhero film (read our review) has a reported production budget of just $12 million, meaning that it’ll be very profitable for 20th Century Fox.

Daniel Radcliffe’s attempt to have a movie career after the Harry Potter franchise got off to a good start, with The Woman In Black grossing an estimated $21 million. The Hammer Horror (read our review), is set to have the biggest opening for the fledgling CBS Films, which has struggled to score a hit. The Woman In Black’s debut is nearly twice that of CBS’ The Back-Up Plan, which went on to gross $37 million.

Radcliffe has had a fantastic decade long run in the Potter series, with the last installment opening to over $169 million, and closing with a final tally of $381 million – a franchise best.

Liam Neeson’s The Grey dropped to third place, tumbling around 50% from last weekend’s launch. The man versus nature action drama, brought in $9.5 million, and upped its cume to $34.7 million. It’s a solid gross for the $25 million film, but it should be noted that it is lagging behind the $53 million and $42 million that Taken and Unknown had grossed at the same point in their respective runs.

Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski team-up Big Miracle proved to be anything but, grossing just $8.5 million, from a $40 million production budget.

Underworld Awakening brought in an additional $5.6 million and brought its total gross to over $54 million. The $70 million film now the second highest grossing in the franchise (behind Underworld: Evolution), and it has a worldwide cume of $100 million.

One For The Money dropped to sixth place, grossing just $5.2 million. The Katherine Heigl comedy has now grossed $19.6 million, not a great gross for its $40 million budget.

George Lucas’ aeronautical action film Red Tails, banked a further $5 million, for a $41. 2 million total. Meanwhile, Sam Worthington’s Man On A Ledge scored $4.6 million, for a total which is just a smidgen under $15 million – not a good number.

George Clooney’s Oscar nominated The Descendants grossed $4.6 million, upping its total gross to over $65.5 million. The film which is on track to become director Alexander Payne’s highest grossing film, besting the $71 million that Sideways grossed in 2004. The film has garnered around $100 million globally.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close banked $3.9 million, bringing its total gross to a somewhat disappointing $26.7 million.

Outside of the top ten The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is finally set to hit $100 million, while Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol broke $600 million at the worldwide box office, making it the highest grossing film of his career. The film takes the title from 2005’s War of the Worlds, which grossed $591 million. Now, who said his career was over?

That’s it for now. See you at the movies.

Source: Box Office Mojo