Weekend Wrap-Up

Underworld Awakens as Box Office Stays Hot

By John Hamann

January 22, 2012

Well, here's your reason to see the movie.

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Unfortunately, Red Tails got hammered by the critics. Of the 70 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, only 23 were positive, giving the film a rotten rating of 33%. Top critics were even less kind, with the rating coming at 27%. Why George Lucas tapped Anthony Hemingway to direct (he didn't have a feature film credit) and Cuba Gooding Jr. to star (he hadn't had a feature film in five years) leaves me baffled, and could be seen as critical mistakes on the path to the release of Red Tails. On the other hand, George Lucas should be given credit for getting his dream onto the screen. When the studios said no, he assumed the risk, and should be given an iota of credit for it (until a dialogue scene from Attack of the Clones pops into your head).

Finishing third is Contraband, Mark Wahlberg's number one movie from last weekend. After earning $24.3 million over the three-day portion of the MLK weekend and $28.5 million over four days, reality took over this weekend. In its second frame, Contraband took in only $12.2 million and dropped a woeful 50% from that three-day gross. With three other action flicks being released this weekend, the writing was on the wall for Contraband, but the beauty is that Contraband actually matched its production budget ($25 million) last weekend, so any money that comes in after today is likely profit for Universal, Relativity, Working Title and a slew of others involved in this one. Also, Kate Beckinsale manages to finish in two of the top three films this weekend, both of which appear to be heading toward profitability. Contraband has now taken in $46.1 million, and could finish with as much as $70 million, but its hold will definitely need to be better next weekend against The Grey and Man on a Ledge.


Fourth spot goes to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a film that looks like the gold standard for Oscar bait but was only called the best film of the year by People Magazine (eww). After four weekends at only six venues, Warner Bros. chose to expand this weekend to 2,630 venues, and the Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock release drew $10.5 million in ticket sales. It had a venue average of $4,010. Critics were split down the middle on this on at Rotten Tomatoes, as All Critics came in at 49% fresh, and Top Critics at 51%. Warner Bros. has chosen to keep the budget data on this one under wraps, but I would be surprised to see it at less than $60 million, given the cast. Its going to have a tough row to hoe if Oscar doesn't shine a light on it.

Fifth place goes to the new Steven Soderbergh flick, Haywire, as the best reviewed new release finished well away from top spot. Haywire earned $9 million from 2,439 venues, as it for some reason did not connect with audiences, despite what appears to be a kickass performance from newcomer Gina Carano. Relativity Media funded the $23 million actioner from Soderbergh, a film that received an 82% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. The result here is decent, but I suspect that the real money is overseas, as this has a supporting cast that features Ewan MacGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas.

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