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Screen Gems’ Underworld: Awakening and George Lucas’ Red Tails are fueling a strong weekend at the domestic box office, which could be up as much as 30 percent over last year despite bad weather in the Midwest and East.
Underworld Awakening, the fourth outing in the Kate Beckinsale vampire-werewolf franchise, grossed $9.4 million on Friday, benefiting from being released in 3D and IMAX runs. The horror action pic is course to gross $23 million to $24 million for the weekend — better than two of the three previous titles.
Threequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycons debuted to $20.7 million in January 2009, a franchise low. The original Underworld opened to $21.8 mllion, followed by $26.9 million for sequel Underworld: Evolution.
Awakening, co-produced by Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment for $70 million, also opens in a number of overseas markets this weekend.
Fully financed and produced by George Lucas, Red Tails grossed a better than expected $6 million on Friday for a projected $16 million weekend. Fox is distributing the movie, which came in No. 2 behind Awakening.
Red Tails, about the Tuskegee Airman during World War II, received a glowing A CinemaScore. Awakening and Warner Bros.’ Extremely Loud & Incrediby Close, which is expanding nationwide this weekend, both received an A- CinemaScore.
Lucas spent 20 years pursuing the project, and recently revealed he couldn’t get any studio to finance the film ecause of an all-black cast. He finally decided to put up the money himself, and spent $58 million on the production budget and another $35 in distribution costs. Lucas produced with Rick McCallum.
The cast of Red Tails includes Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard. Recently, the producers and cast were recently at the White House for special screening of the film, along with director Anthony Hemingway.
Stephen Daldry’s post-9/11 drama Extremely Loud, starring Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, came in No. 4 on Friday, grossing $3.2 million as it expanded from six theaters, where it’s been playing since Christmas Day, to 2,630 locations. Projections show Extremely Loud grossing $10 million for the weekend.
Universal’s Mark Wahlberg starrer Contraband came in No. 3 on its second Friday, grossing $3.7 million for a projected $12 million weekend. The pic’s domestic gross through Friday was $37.6 million.
Steven Soderbergh’s upscale action film Haywire, the weekend’s other new player, came in No. 5 on Friday after scoring a dismal D+ CinemaScore. The Relativity Media pic grossed $2.9 million for the day, and is expected to gross $8 million to $9 million for the weekend. Relativity says the film only cost $23 million, with much of the budget covered by foreign presales.
Headlining Gina Carano as a female covert operative, Haywire also stars Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Chaning Tatum and Michael Douglas.
Haywire opens in a handful of foreign territories this weekend, including Russia and the U.K. Alliance is distributing the movie in Canada.
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