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Weekend Box Office: Underworld Awakens Box Office, Red Tails Flies in Just Behind

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By Chris Kavan - 01/22/12 at 10:11 PM CT

Looks like the fourth time is the charm for the Underworld series. With Kate Beckinsale back in the picture as vampire warrior Selene, Underworld: Awakening took in $25.4 million to claim the top spot at the box office. It also helped lead the total box office to a 26% improvement compared to last year.

While it wasn't quite enough to top Beckinsale's last Underworld appearance (Underwold: Evolution took in $26.9 million) it was enough to top Rise of the Lycan's $20.8 million. Awakening benefited from its 3D screenings, which accounted for 59% of its grosses. It also received a welcome A- from movie-goers, signalling the film might have decent legs in the coming weeks.

George Lucas may not have flown highest, but his personal project on the Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails, came in a respectable second with $19.1 million. It was head and shoulders above Flyboys ($6 million) and it also earned an A- from audiences, and an A+ from those under 18 or older than 50. While reviews stayed in the mediocre range, Lucas can take to heart if this is his final "big" picture, he can leave on a good note.

Haywire, while receiving mostly positive reviews, opened in 5th with $9 million. That's below recent female-centric films Colombiana ($10.4 million) and Hanna ($12.4 million). The movie catered to a mostly younger, male audience, but exit scores weren't kind, earning a dismal D-, which means it should fall off the charts pretty quickly. In the battle of kick-ass females, it appears Beckinsale in tight black leather beats MMA star Gina Carano in her film debut.

After a few weeks in limited releases, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close expanded nationwide and took in $10.5 million for a fourth-place finish. The drama centered around 9/11 turned out to be a tough sell to audiences, as it represents one of the worst wide-release openings for both Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.

Rounding out the top five, last week's #1 film, Contraband, slipped 50% to wind up in third with $12.2 million. The Mark Wahlberg-led crime drama has grossed $46.1 million and has already topped Max Payne ($40.7 million) and will soon pass Shooter ($47 million) in terms of total take.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast 3D release won't be able to match the success of The Lion King. Dropping 52% to sixth place with $8.5 million, the film has taken in $33.3 million - a far cry from the $94.2 million total of Lion King.

Next week Liam Neeson and Dermot Mulroney fight off the cold, and some angry wolves, in The Grey and Sam Worthington stirs up a plot to prove his innocence and catch the real criminal in Man on a Ledge. In a crowded action market, we'll see if either one can attract attention and continue setting a good pace for 2012.

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