George Lucas made the bold claim that Red Tails, the action film he produced (and at least partially directed) about the Tuskegee Airmen, would be a barometer for how Hollywood treated any future big budget film featuring a largely black cast. In essence, George Lucas believed that Red Tails' success or failure would be an indictment of the movie-going culture. If we let Red Tails fail, we were essentially telling Hollywood that big movies with black actors don't matter to us. That's a lot of pressure.
The end result might come across as something of a mixed message to Hollywood, then. Red Tails didn't fail, exactly, coming in second place with an entirely decent $19.1 million in ticket sales. At the same time, it was beaten by warmed-over vampire-Matrix sequel Underworld: Awakening, which took the top spot with the tidy sum of $25.4 million. So, essentially, the world told George Lucas and Hollywood the following: We're totally cool with black actors in big budget movies; we'd just prefer it if they featured hot vampire ladies killing shit in slow motion.
Message heard, movie-goers. Message heard.
Incidentally, Underworld and Red Tails were not the only movies to open this weekend. Steven Soderbergh's skull-cracking ode to MMA fighter Gina Carano, Haywire, had a bit of trouble keeping up with all the racial politics and vampire asses, limping into fifth place with just $9 million. Also, this weekend marked the wide release of cloying post-9/11 fairy tale Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. After languishing on just six screens for the last few weeks, it exploded onto more than 2,500, and placed fourth overall, with $10.5 million. That sounds about right when you factor in the number of old Midwestern people who clearly HAD to go see this, now that it was readily accessible. They're always good for about $10 million in ticket sales. Easy.
And with that, we move onto this week's top 10 list which, for the first time in a while, looks pretty different than the last few weeks prior. Goodbye Chipmunks! Goodbye Satan! Don't let the door hit you on the way to...oh who am I kidding, they already made oodles of money. There's no satisfaction to be had here...
|1. Underworld: Awakening|
$25.4 million / NEW
|2. Red Tails|
$19.1 million / NEW
$12.2 million / $46.1 million
|4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close|
$10.5 million / $11.2 million
$9 million / NEW
|6. Beauty and the Beast|
$8.6 million / $33.3 million
|7. Joyful Noise|
$6.1 million / $21.9 million
|8. Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol|
$5.5 million / $197.4 million
|9. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows|
$4.8 million / $178.6 million
|10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo|
$3.8 million / $94.8 million
Source: Box Office Mojo