*****When I went to see the movie, there were more Whites (about 90%) in the theatre than Blacks and many were men with family who were elderly retired military veterans who gave the movie a standing ovation.*****
"Red Tails" came in #2, to "Underworld" ($25.4 million) opened to better-than-expected numbers at the domestic box office this weekend, taking in $19.1million.
Fox Studios was upbeat.
Studio executives had projected that the PG-13 "Red Tails," about the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, would gross $10 million to $12 million, although less conservative outside box-office watchers estimated it would take as much as $18 million. The $19.1 million take was a surprise.
"It played across all demographics and all across the country," Fox's distribution chief, Chris Aronson, told TheWrap Sunday morning.
He noted that the audience was 51 percent male and 49 percent female -- a close split, considering "Red Tails" is a war movie.
"Red Tails," which executive producer George Lucas financed, cost $58 million to make. "George has believed in this movie for 20-odd years and all I can say is, he was right," Aronson said.
The Tuskegee Airmen were African American pilots in the segregated U.S. Army Air Corps.
"It's a story that not too many people know about," Aronson said. "And now a lot of people will know about."
He said the movie, directed by Anthony Hemingway and starring Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Bryan Cranston, slightly overindexed in African American markets, and that the only North American locations where the movie did not perform especially well were in Canada.
The movie received an "A" Cinemascore.