The fourth instalment of the Underworld franchise, Underworld Awakening, topped the box office over the weekend after grossing an estimated $25.4 million. The Kate Beckinsale starrer is doing good business considering that the first installment in the series opened in 2003. That film grossed $21 million on its debut, for a $51 million final total.

Underworld: Evolution scored $26 million when it opened in 2006, on its way to a $62 million final tally. The third, a Beckinsale-free entry released in 2009, subtitled Rise of the Lycans, grossed $20 million during its first weekend and topped out at $45 million. Where this fourth film will figure on this depends on word of mouth (you can read our review here), but it will likely surpass the last installment and score a final figure near the 2003 franchise starter.

George Lucas’ long gestating Red Tails had an impressive debut at two, grossing an estimated $19.1 million. The WWII pilot film, was self-financed by the Star Wars guru at a cost of $58 million, and it looks like it may have been another sound investment for the man who made billions from the science-fiction franchise. Studios were wary of stumping up the cash for the true story about the Tuskegee Airmen, featuring an all African-American cast, in a genre that is notoriously risky – 2006’s Flyboys grossed just $13 million from $60 million budget.

Anthony Hemingway directed the film, but Lucas had a very hands-on approach during production, apparently overseeing reshoots. Reviews have been mixed for the film (read ours) which could potentially be Lucas’ cinematic swansong in mainstream film-making.

Last weekend’s champ, Contraband dropped to three, but grossed another $12.2 million and upped its gross to over $46 million. That’s a drop of nearly 50%, but it’s still a solid number for the Mark Wahlberg film (which also stars Kate Beckinsale).

9/11 drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close opened at four with a weekend take of $10.5 million. The film which stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock expanded this weekend from a limited release, and brought its total to over $11 million. Word of mouth and potential Oscar-buzz should see the gross swell to a solid (if unspectacular) number.

Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire shot-up $9 million – a disappointing start considering the star-wattage involved (Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum and Bill Paxton). MMA tough-chick Gina Carano stars in this female-driven action film which has had good reviews (read ours). The upswing of this, is that the film cost just $23 million to produce, a figure that will certainly be recouped when international grosses are added in. Can it find an audience in the coming weeks?

Disney’s twenty year old 3D Beauty And The Beast grossed about half a million less than the Soderbergh film on its second weekend, upping its cume to $33 million.

Joyful Noise brought in another $6 million for a total of just under $22 million, which isn’t a bad number considering the crowded market place.

Tom Cruise’s fantastically (impossibly?) punctuated Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol upped its total gross to over $197 million, after it grossed $5.5 million over the three days. The action sequel has now banked almost $540 million worldwide.

Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows brought in $4.8 million worth of green and brought its cume to over $178 million. It’s total worldwide gross has now surpassed $400 million.

David Fincher’s gritty The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo scored $3.7 million over the weekend, and brought its cume to a smidgen under $95 million. It’s slowly inching towards that magic $100 million figure at the domestic box office, overseas, it has scored more than $50 million.

Meryl Streep’s political biopic The Iron Lady dipped out of the top ten after it grossed an additional $3.6 million, giving it a $12.6 million total. It’s difficult to sex-up British politics, especially with Margaret Thatcher and that could be a reason why this film might struggle at the domestic box office.

That’s it for now. See you at the movies.

Follow me on twitter @CorduroyBrowne

Source: Box Office Mojo