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Rising to the second best opening of the decade-long franchise, sci-fi action flick Underworld: Awakening sucked up $25.3 million at the box office, easily taking the number one spot. As was the case with Resident Evil: Afterlife, which targeted the same demographic in 2010, adding 3D and IMAX to the mix (while bringing back iconic lead Kate Beckinsale in this case) proved to be the perfect combination. Overseas, the four-quel hunted down $13.4 million bringing its global total to an early $38.7 million.
Surprising in second was the George Lucas-produced WWII fighter pilot epic Red Tails, which rose to a solid gross of $18.8 million thanks to the African-American cast, promise of action set pieces and the overall power of the Lucas marketing machine. This is good news for the mogul who fought to bring this tale of the Tuskegee Airmen to the big screen for nearly two decades. This was the seventh best opening of all time for a Second World War drama.
After over-performing last week, Mark Wahlberg’s heist thriller Contraband fell an understandable (but far from disastrous) 50 percent to $12 million and has now stolen away $45.9 million in 10 days.
After staying in the vicinity of a 15,000 per-theater average for a month of limited release, 9/11 drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close expanded to 2,600 showings and a so-so $10-million weekend. Originally touted as an Oscar contender, fading praise meant the Stephen Daldry-directed fable had to rely on the starpower provided by Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.
Coming in right on expectations in sixth was Steven Soderbergh’s efficient low-budget action flick Haywire, which bullied $8.4 million from its intended audience of young males. A lack of starpower and over-artsy approach stunted most of its breakout potential.
The onslaught of new movies continues next week lead by two very different action flicks. Liam Neeson has proven himself a late-career badass with hits such as Taken and Unknown and will amp up the testosterone once more with the survivalist thriller The Grey. Also going nationwide is the revenge/heist thriller Man on a Ledge starring Avatar’s Sam Worthington about a man trying to prove his innocence while getting his just desserts from those who wronged him. Finally is the latest Katherine Heigl rom-com, One for the Money, which could connect with a recently ignored female demographic on 2,700 screens.