Audiences welcomed Kate Beckinsale back to the "Underworld" franchise by making the fourth film in the series the top film at the Friday box office. It scared up $9.4 million.

The opening weekend gross for "Underworld: Awakening" is projected to be around $23 million, benefiting from 3D and IMAX showings. It will likely have a bigger opening weekend than both the previous "Underworld" films (Beckinsale sat out "Underworld: Evolution"). 

It also handily beat the No. 2 film; the George Lucas-produced Tuskegee Airmen drama "Red Tails" flew to a better-than-anticipated $6 million on Friday. The Fox-distributed film should earn around $16 million this weekend. 

It was a good day for action films, as Universal's Mark Wahlberg vehicle "Contraband" picked up another $3.7 million in its second Friday, bringing its domestic gross to a strong $37.6 million. 

Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" reaped the benefits of expanding to 2,600 screens, earning $3.1 million, while Steven Soderbergh's arty action film "Haywire" rounded out the top five with a disappointing $2.9 million.

After the sterling performance of the 3D re-release of "Lion King" last summer, Disney continues the streak with the stereoscopic version of "Beauty and the Beast" which added another $2.1 million to its domestic gross, now totaling $26.9 million. 

The top ten also included the Dolly Parton-Queen Latifah matchup "Joyful Noise" ($1.6 million) Tom Cruise's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" ($1.5 million), "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" ($1.3 million) and, picking up another $1 million, Meryl Streep's "The Iron Lady."

Look for complete weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.


Dave Lewis has been a Los Angeles-based entertainment writer and editor for nearly ten years. Originally hailing from Minneapolis, he moved to L.A. in 1996 to attend USC, before working for various periodicals and web sites including a lengthy stint at He joined the HitFix staff in 2011.