The disconnect between what critics like and what audiences like was never more apparent than this past weekend as one female-driven action flick struck gold and another didn’t.
True, “Underworld: Awakening” is the fourth installment in a moderately successful vampire-werewolf franchise, so it did have a built-in audience. It also starred Kate Beckinsale, a moderately well-known star.
Still, its take of $25.2 million over the weekend came as something of a surprise. And it certainly flew in the face of critical reaction. Those who bothered to review the film — it was not screened for critics in advance of its release — gave it an ultra-lousy 27 percent aggregate approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
On the other end of the spectrum is “Haywire,” the Steven Soderbergh-directed action film starring real-life mixed martial arts fighter and movie newcomer Gina Carano. The film, which featured a top-notch supporting cast of Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum and Bill Paxton, was a critical hit, scoring 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie came in fifth place with $8.6 million, which is neither great nor terrible for a female-driven action flick. But its audience-generated Cinemascore was a dismal D+. Whew.
Elsewhere, “Red Tails” made $19.4 million, showing both the power of the African American audience and its (understandable) hunger for positive role models.
Perhaps the week’s biggest surprise/no-surprise, though, was the under-performance of Oscar frontrunner “The Artist, which expanded to 662 theaters following its Golden Globe best comedy/musical win. The silent film only brought in $2.37 million, bringing its total to just over $12 million and proving it is not “The King’s Speech.”
Then again, who thought it would be? It’s a silent black-and-white movie starring two people Americans have never heard of.
The weekend’s top 10:
“Underworld: Awakening” — $25.2 million
“Red Tails” — $19.4 million
“Contraband” — $12.3 million, $46.3 million total
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” — $10.2 million, $10.9 million
“Haywire” — $8.6 million
“Beauty and the Beast 3D” — $8.3 million, $33.2 million
“Joyful Noise” — $5.8M, $21.7M
“Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” — $5.7M, $197.5M
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” — $4.6M, $178.4M
“The Iron Lady” / “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” — $3.7 million. “Lady” has made $12.6 million, “Girl” $94.7 million