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Underworld: Awakening tops US box office

Underworld: Awakening

Story by Jack Foley

UNDERWORLD: Awakening and George Lucas’ Red Tails helped the US box office to enjoy its third successive strong weekend of the new year by opening in first and second place respectively with better than expected figures.

The fourth entry in the Kate Beckinsale vampire-werewolf franchise took top spot with $25.4 million thanks largely to 3D to out-gross two of the three previous titles in the series.

Red Tails, meanwhile, marked a personal success for Lucas, who said he had to fight hard to get the tale of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II made.

According to the Star Wars legend, he had to spend 20 years pursuing the project and recently revealed that he couldn’t get any studio to finance the film because of an all-black cast, which includes Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard.

He finally decided to put up the money himself and spent $58 million on the production budget and another $35 in distribution costs, which means that the $19.1 million opening in the US will go some way towards repaying his faith in it.

Elsewhere at the box office, Stephen Daldry’s post-9/11 drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, starring Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Thomas Horn, came in fourth after expanding nationwide, grossing $10.5 million.

Mark Wahlberg’s Contraband, which topped the box office last weekend, slipped to third with $12.2 million for a 10-day domestic cume of $46.1 million.

And Steven Soderbergh’s action film Haywire opened to $9 million to round out the top five.

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