Screen Gems’ latest foray Underworld delivered a respectable opening gross that returned the franchise to winning ways after the third episode opened in second place three years ago.

Kate Beckinsale returns to the fray as the vampire warrior Selene and Måns Mårlind and Bjorn Stein directed the 3D film.

Fox’s world war two action film Red Tails starring Terrence Howard, Nate Parker and Cuba Gooding Jr exceeded expectations in second place on $19.1m while Steven Soderbergh’s action film Haywire disappointed, opening through Relativity in fifth place on $9m.

Warner Bros scored a great result for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close heading into Tuesday’s Oscar nominations. The film expanded wide from six theatres into 2,630 and climbed 28 places to number four in its fifth weekend, grossing $10.5m for a relatively early $11.2m.

Meanwhile it was announced that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 has crossed $700m worldwide. The press release bore the Lionsgate banner at the top in the wake of the recent merger. The global running total stands at $701.3m.

Next weekend’s wide releases all hail from the independent sector and include Open Road Films’ second release The Grey starring Liam Neeson; Lionsgate’s One For The Money with Katherine Heigl and Lionsgate-owned Summit Entertainment’s Man On A Ledge starring Sam Worthington.

Estimated Top 10 North America Jan 20-22 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Underworld: Awakening (Screen Gems) SPRI $25.4m

2 (-) Red Tails (Fox) Fox Int’l $19.1m –

3 (1) Contraband (Universal) UPI $12.4m $46.1m

4 (36) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Warner Bros) WBPI $10.5m $11.2m

5 (-) Haywire (Relativity) Lionsgate $9m –

6 (2) Beauty And The Beast 3D (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $8.6m $33.4m

7 (4) Joyful Noise (Warner Bros) $6.1m $21.9m

8 (3) Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Paramount) PPI $5.5m $197.3m

9 (5) Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (Warner Bros) WBPI $4.8m $178.6m

10 (6) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Sony) SPRI $3.8m $94.8m