Movie Projector: Fourth ‘Underworld’ to soar higher than ‘Red Tails’


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The fourth movie in Sony Pictures’ ‘Underworld’ vampire series should lead the box office this weekend as Hollywood hopes to continue what has been a strong January in theaters.

While people who have seen prerelease audience surveys are confident ‘Underworld: Awakening’ will debut with between $20 million and $25 million, there’s less certainty around another new entry, ‘Red Tails.’


The George Lucas-produced movie about the Tuskegee Airmen is tracking for an opening of around $15 million, gaining momentum recently among African American audiences.

Those two pictures are expected to outpace Relativity Media’s action film ‘Haywire,’ directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano, and Warner Bros.’ Sept. 11 drama ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,’ which is expanding nationwide this weekend.

Those relatively inexpensive movies, both of which were well-reviewed and generating interest mainly among sophisticated adult audiences, will likely open to about $10 million.

‘Extremely Loud’ has taken in $671,502 since opening in limited release on Christmas Day.

With ‘Underworld: Awakening,’ Sony’s Screen Gems label and partner Lakeshore Entertainment spent a healthy $70 million on the production, which included bringing the franchise into 3-D for the first time.

The question is whether images popping off the screen will help the latest entry in the series about leather-clad vampires battling werewolves outgross 2009’s ‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,’ which opened to $20.8 million.

In 2006, ‘Underworld: Evolution’ debuted to a stronger $26.9 million.

If ‘Awakening’ does top the box-office charts as expected, it will mark repeat success for star Kate Beckinsale, who also had a prominent role in last weekend’s No. 1 film ‘Contraband.’


‘Red Tails’ is also headed for a decent but not great opening given its reported cost of $58 million. The movie was financed entirely by Lucas, who is also covering the marketing costs. Twentieth Century Fox is distributing the film, which stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard and has received largely negative reviews.

In limited release, the Weinstein Co. is debuting the Ralph Fiennes-directed Shakespeare adaptation ‘Coriolanus,’ starring Gerard Butler, which had a one-week run in December to qualify for the Academy Awards.

‘We Need to Talk About Kevin,’ starring Tilda Swinton in the adaptation of a book about the mother of a young killer, opens in Los Angeles this weekend after hitting New York City last week.


Box Office: ‘Contraband’ steals No. 1 spot from ‘Beauty and the Beast’

‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’: Kenneth Turan’s film pick of the week

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: Kate Beckinsale in ‘Underworld: Awakening.’ Credit: Joe Lederer / Sony Pictures