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.
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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.