With four new wide releases, this weekend's marketplace as a whole was busy for late January.

‘Underworld Awakening’ Leads; ‘Red Tails’ Takes Second

on January 23, 2012 by Daniel Garris

As was widely expected, Sony's Underworld Awakening opened in first place this weekend. The fourth installment of the vampire action franchise (and third starring Kate Beckinsale) debuted with $25.31 million. That was 21.5 percent stronger than the $20.83 million start of 2009's Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (which didn't feature Beckinsale), but 6 percent softer than the $26.86 million start of 2006's Underworld: Evolution (which did feature Beckinsale). However, it should be noted that Underworld Awakening did have an added boost from higher priced 3D and IMAX admissions, which respectively represented 59 percent and 15 percent of this weekend's total gross. Underworld Awakening also represents the most expensive film of the franchise to date. The film skewed towards male moviegoers (55 percent) and moviegoers 25 and older (60 percent).

Fox's Red Tails opened in second place with $18.78 million. The Lucasfilm produced WWII war film starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard opened on the higher end of its rising, but wide-ranging expectations. Thanks in part to an effective marketing campaign handled by Lucasfilm, online buzz soared for Red Tails in the last few weeks leading up to the film's release. The film was also helped out this weekend by a relatively high number of pre-sales for a film of its size. Without taking into account twelve years of ticket price inflation, Red Tails opened 41 percent stronger than the $13.34 million start of 2000's Men of Honor (which also stared Gooding). The audience breakdown for Red Tails was nearly evenly split between genders (51 percent male) and skewed older (66 percent over 25). Red Tails received an A rating from CinemaScore and will hope to hold up well going forward.

Contraband fell 51 percent and two spots to take third with $12.04 million. The Mark Wahlberg vehicle from Universal had a respectable hold from last weekend's three-day frame when considering the new direct competition that opened in the marketplace this weekend. The modestly budgeted Contraband has exceeded expectations with a strong ten-day start of $45.94 million. Contraband is currently running 7 percent ahead of the pace of 2005's Coach Carter.

In its first weekend of wide release Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close placed in fourth with $10.05 million. The Warner Bros. release featuring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock opened towards the lower end of expectations. After an additional four weeks of platform release, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has grossed $10.74 million to date. September 11th themed films clearly remain a tough sell at the box office.

Beauty and the Beast 3D was down three spots and 51 percent to round out this weekend's top five with $8.78 million. Disney's 3D re-issue of its 1991 traditionally animated film experienced a surprisingly steep decline in its second weekend, but will hope to stabilize over the next couple of weeks due in part to a lack of upcoming competition for family audiences. Beauty and the Beast 3D has grossed $33.59 million in ten days, placing it 33 percent behind the pace of last year's Gnomeo and Juliet.  The current lifetime domestic gross for Beauty and the Beast now stands at $204.94 million.

Relativity's Haywire debuted with $8.43 million to finish in sixth. The Steven Soderbergh directed action thriller starring Gina Carano opened in line with its modest pre-release expectations and had a decent showing given that it opened against Underworld Awakening. Haywire opened 61 percent stronger than the $5.21 million start of last year's Warrior and 23.5 percent softer than the $11.02 million start of 2009's Fighting. The film skewed towards male moviegoers (55 percent) and towards moviegoers under 35 (64 percent).

Additional reporting by Phil Contrino.

Tags: Haywire, Beauty and the Beast 3D, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Contraband, Red Tails, Underworld Awakening

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