So Contraband was the ultimate view-getter in the online world, which translated to a nearly $30 million opening weekend, coasting past The Beauty and the Beast 3D re-issue ($23 million), while Joyful Noise did a not-too-shabby $11 million.  This weekend is loaded.  First, we have a new Underworld movie, which will probably destroy the competition.  There’s Red Tails, which is about the Tuskegee Airmen that George Lucas says took him 20 years to make.  Steven Soderbergh is back with the action picture Haywire, starring MMA chick Gina Carano, and the Tom Hanks vehicle Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close gets a wide release.

Underworld: Awakening – More Vampires and Werewolves, With A Resident Evil Twist

I must confess I’ve never liked one Underworld movie.  I don’t like the idea of vampires and werewolves fighting a war with guns and knives, which seem to defeat the mystique of the creatures, but hey, whatever.  Kate Beckinsale is back after the third movie decided to go prequel, and this new entry will focus on a “new enemy,” which is apparently a hybrid vampire/werewolf.

Underworld: Awakening has blown out some serious YouTubing to promote the product.  First, the official trailer:

It’s hard to pinpoint the number of views on this trailer since there are a bunch of outlets that have been showing it.  But if you combine all the views of the various teasers and final trailers for this film, you’d have something I’ll estimate to be around 4-5 million.  Yet, the quick 19-second TV clip has 4 million views alone:

Sony doesn’t stop there.  They have clips from the movie.  The first one is a detective (Michael Ealy) trying to talk to mad scientist Stephen Rea:

Then there’s this heavy action clip:

And the introduction of the new beast they’re fighting:

There are a lot more.  They even have a YouTube video for the soundtrack of the movie, so Sony has gone on the full blitz to make Underworld: Awakening a success in every respect.  Oh, and just in case you couldn’t remember the whole story, the Underworld YouTube channel also has a video explaining the story:

Haywire: Stephen Soderbergh Brings Us MMA Beauty Gina Carano For Realistic Fighting

I’ve seen the previews for Haywire for a really long time now, which is usually a bad sign.  Trailers have alternated from looking awesome to looking “meh.”  I have no idea what to think of it.  The movie has your usual Bourne Identity kind of story: she was on a secret mission, she was double-crossed, now she’s going to have to use her skills to avoid/kill those who double-crossed her.  It stars Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and when it comes down to it, even I probably made it into the film.

The official trailer has collected over 3.5 million views since its introduction to YouTube in July:

There’s a shorter trailer that came out shortly after that:

Soderbergh’s last attempt to take a non-actress, the adult film star Sasha Grey, in his movie The Girlfriend Experience, got a mixed, mostly negative reception.  But I like the idea of taking a person who really knows action moves so that there’s no need for quick-editing to make them look good.

Red Tails Revisits The Tuskegee Airmen, Courtesy Of George Lucas

What’s been hard for Red Tails, which has like 5 theatrical trailers, is for people to get over the Lucasfilm involvement with this movie, and the fact that HBO made a well-known Tuskegee Airmen film back in 1995.  But watching some of the aerial footage in these trailers makes me want to see it.  It looks pretty impressive.  The story is of the 332nd Fighter Group and 447th Bombardment Group, African Americans fighting for their country in World War II in the time of segregation.

Here’s a clip of the pilots attacking an armed train:

And here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie:

It took a man of influence like George Lucas 20 years to get this movie made, claiming that studios just wouldn’t support an all-black World War II aviation movie.  I think the new Star Wars movies also got in the way of that, but whatever the case may be, Lucas has come out with a project he considers personal, and I’m glad he’s not directing it.  TV vet Anthony Hemingway (Treme) directs here.  The Fox-distributed movie stars Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding, Jr. (who was in The Tuskegee Airmen as well), and Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston.

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close Gets A Wider Audience This Weekend

Tom Hanks has been in a bit of a slump as an actor lately.  His movies used to be pretty much sold on his name alone.  If it was a big movie and it had Tom Hanks, you could bet the box office would follow.  But his last high-profile film Charlie Wilson’s War didn’t break out like it should have, and last year he was in Larry Crowne, something nobody wanted to see, and he’s somewhat the selling point for this literary adaptation of Jonathan Safron Foer’s 9/11-themed novel.  Sandra Bullock also brings considerable clout.

But this movie is young Thomas Horn’s to win or lose, as the story is about a key his father has left behind that opens…something he has to figure out.  The movie has not been getting good reviews and has done middling business in select cities, but that doesn’t mean much once the movie goes wide.  It could still rally and be one of those crowd favorites.

Warner Bros. has also released a clip from the movie, speaking to the movie’s almost mini-Da Vinci Code feel:

The Take For This Weekend

I think it’s clearly Underworld: Awakening‘s weekend to lose.  The series has never made huge sums of money, but the first two were #1 for the weekend.  The last entry, the prequel, lost to the second weekend of Paul Blart: Mall Cop (ouch).  I think Red Tails will give it some competition (it might even get the same huge audiences that The Help got last August), and Haywire along with Extremely Loud will not likely make much impact.  Still, that’s a lot of action movies competing against each other and there might be some cannibalization.  You throw in last week’s winner, Contraband, and you have a very male-skewed action universe when you go to the multiplex.