Underworld moves to top

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kate Beckinsale is back with a vengeance, with her latest Underworld movie opening at No 1 this weekend.


Underworld Awakening" made an estimated US$25.4, distributor Sony Screen Gems reported Sunday.


This is the fourth film in the vampire action saga. Beckinsale starred in the first two movies as the warrior Selene, then bowed out of part three but returned for this latest installment. "Underworld Awakening" was shown for the first time in 3-D as well as on IMAX screens, where it made US$3.8 million. That's 15 per cent of the film's weekend gross, which is a record for an IMAX digital-only run.


Sony had hoped the film would end up in the low-US$20 million range. But Rory Bruer, the studio's president of worldwide distribution, says the fact that it did even better — despite a snow storm that hit much of the Midwest and East Coast — primarily has to do with Beckinsale's return.


"She is such a force. Her character — you just can't take your eyes off of her. I know the character is very dear to her, as well, and she just kills it," Bruer said. "The 3-D aspect of the film also brings something, makes it a fun, visceral ride."


Opening in second place was Red Tails from executive producer George Lucas, about the Tuskegee Airmen who were the first black fighter pilots to serve in World War II. It made an estimated $19.1 million, according to 20th Century Fox, which was well above expectations; the studio had hoped to reach double digits, said Chris Aronson, executive vice president of domestic distribution.




"I believe what George Lucas has stated all along: This is an important story and a story that must be told. It is a true story of American heroism and valor and audiences have really responded to this message," Aronson said. "People want to feel good about themselves, they want to be uplifted. We have enough hard crud going on in this country right now. Times are tough, and if we look back and are told a story of some really fantastic deeds, that's really compelling moviegoing."


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