Let's just take a look back at the Underworld franchise, shall we? The vampires and werewolves - and Kate Beckinsale in tight black leather - film series has been a dependable source of income for Screen Gems, although no one would go as far as to call it a blockbuster franchise. The original Underworld launched the series in 2003 to an opening weekend domestic box office of $21.8 million. That was followed in 2006 by Underworld: Evolution which made $26.9 million its opening weekend. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans - also known as 'The one that didn't star Kate Beckinsale' - was released in 2009 and opened to a less-than-enthusiastic response and a $20.8 million weekend take. And now Underworld Awakening, which returns Beckinsale to the lead role of Selene, has brought the franchise back to life with a $25.6 million opening weekend.
However, the real story of the weekend is not what's happening with the vampire series but how well Red Tails performed after having such a hard time finding a studio to back its release. Produced by George Lucas, the tale of the Tuskegee Airmen opened in second place with a better than expected $19.1 million.
Meanwhile, things didn't go so well for the weekend's other new releases: Haywire and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The action thriller Haywire starring newbie Gina Carano and directed by Steven Soderbergh failed to attract much attention. Also not performing up to expectations was Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close which expanded into 2,600+ locations after a few weeks in limited release. Extremely Loud's poor showing of just $10 million was the worst opening for a Sandra Bullock movie in 15 years, so says BoxOfficeMojo.
Top 10 Films for the Weekend of January 20-22, 2012
1) Underworld Awakening - $25,400,000
2) Red Tails - $19,100,000
3) Contraband - $12,240,550
4) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - $10,545,000
5) Haywire - $9,000,000
6) Beauty and the Beast - $8,556,000
7) Joyful Noise - $6,075,000
8) Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - $5,540,000
9) Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - $4,805,000
10) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - $3,750,000
(Photo from Underworld: Awakening © Screen Gems)