This weekend you can watch a lot of women kick butt. Not only is there Kate Beckinsale in Underworld: Awakening, Gina Carano makes her acting debut in Steven Soderbergh‘s Haywire. And then there’s George Lucas‘s Red Tails, which highlights the African American pilots who fought and flew in World War II. And for those looking for something more heartwarming, you can watch Tom Hanks die on 9/11 in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Something for everyone. Who wins? Find out…

Underworld is a surprisingly resilient and successful franchise that seems to have been energized by the 3-D success of the last Resident Evil film. With January releases, these have proven to be successful every time and means it’s likely that this film will also make some dough. Perhaps it’s the use of hot women in leather that gets this franchise over. I’ve seen the first two, and I clearly don’t get the fanbase for these movies. But vampires and werewolves, longtime war, it’s not the first time I don’t get something like this. January is a good time for movies like this, and they tend to be slick. Expect twenty plus for the weekend.

Haywire may be a little too weird to be a breakout hit, though it could overperform expectations. Talented actors against an MMA fighter is a hard sell, and it needs word of mouth from surprised audiences. If the film plays, it could be a Taken-type situation. The problem with a film like this is that Soderbergh’s audience – if he has one – may be turned off, while the Sylvester Stallone crowd might not get it.  Close to ten million is about right.

And Red Tails is the sort of film that if people still loved George Lucas might be a modest success. But early reviews paint it as either too formulaic or simply too bad to get much traction, and the period story is something of a turn off. The January release date inspires no confidence, though the film may have been sold well to the urban market. If that’s the case it’s possible the film could do a bit better than the around ten million that seems likely. Unfortunately Lucas is such the lightning rod that he becomes the focal point, which works against the film.

Though Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close ended up on some best of lists, those who didn’t care for it (including yours truly) really didn’t like it. But regardless of critical opinion, it’s gotten no award traction. With so many of the Guilds announcing their nominees and the Golden Globes over and done with, the film would need nomination buzz to not be dead on arrival. Currently the film has a less than 50% approval rating, and that’s not what you want out of a prestige picture starring Tom Hanks, and there doesn’t appear to be any sort of Oscar life boat coming. The name cast should prevent it from true embarrassment, but an under ten million opening is likely.

So let’s put up some fake numbers:

  1. Underworld 4 – $26.7 Million
  2. Contraband - $13.4 Million
  3. Beauty and the Beast 3-D- $12 Million
  4. Red Tails – $9.9 Million
  5. Haywire – $8.5 Million

It’s possible Extremely Loud could sneak in there. But for a January, those look like good numbers for what’s supposed to be an off season.

What do you want to see this weekend?