second third sequel in the Underworld series, Underworld: Whatever, opened to the usual pans over Kate Beckinsale again presiding over the war between vampires and werewolves in a shiny black catsuit. It also, of course, opened to the usual influx of cash money, too, cruising into first place with $25.4 million. The real story of the weekend, however, may be the surprisingly robust performance of Red Tails, producer George Lucas’ long-gestating tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, which didn’t get made for years over concerns about its box office potential. Add to that the mostly sour reviews, and the film seemed headed for the rocks—Lucas’ recent announcement that he would retire from big-budget filmmaking and make smaller, more experimental films like Francis Ford Coppola’s recent efforts made it sound like he was anticipating failure. But Red Tails did just fine over the weekend, exceeding most expectations with $19.1 million in receipts and good word-of-mouth going forward. Public reception was far less kind to Steven Soderbergh's action movie Haywire, which opened all the way back in fifth with $9 million. Though reviews were mostly good, audiences and critics diverged severely: Haywire received a “D+” CinemaScore, compared to “A-“ for Underworld: Armed And Fabulous, proving again that sneering elitist contempt for Joe Q. Public is entirely warranted.
In limited release, the Ralph Fiennes-directed Shakespeare adaptation Coriolanus opened to a weak $6,667 per screen on nine screens, despite the backing of the Brothers Weinstein, who were perhaps too busy dangling Oscar voters off hotel balconies on behalf of The Artist to devote much time to promoting it. Meanwhile, the Frederick Wiseman documentary Crazy Horse, about the famed nude revue in Paris, started a three-week run at Film Forum with a solid $10,000. And after a few weeks of horrifying audiences in select arthouses, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close invaded the nation’s multiplexes like an airborne super-virus, but most moviegoers were quarantined in that stupid Kate Beckinsale thing. Its $10.5 million was considered weak by Tom Hanks-Sandra Bullock standards.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.