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Kate Beckinsale in 'Underworld: Awakening'

If your local theater owner starts serving freshly brewed cups of tea out of a teapot covered with a cozy at the megaplex this weekend, don’t be surprised. It would only be fitting, given that there are British stars in all five of the major movies opening this Friday (January 20).

Sure, there are often English actors in movies, but to have five big names, each with their own film in a single week, qualifies as a Brit-lapalooza.

Here’s the rundown:

• London-born Kate Beckinsale stars in Underworld: Awakening, the fourth chapter in the vampire series, which began back in 2003 with Underworld.  For those who have yet to sink their teeth into the franchise, Beckinsale plays Selene, a sexy vampire (is there any other kind?) warrior. Other Brits in the cast include Charles Dance and Stephen Rea.

• Scotsman Ewan McGregor plays a character who is up to no good in Haywire, an international action thriller from director Steven Soderbergh. Also turning up here and looking suave is Irish hottie Michael Fassbender, who plays an elite hired killer.

• Ralph Fiennes serves double duty on Coriolanus, as star and director (it’s his first time directing). His savvy adaptation of the Shakespeare play about a stubborn military leader opened for Oscar consideration for a week New York and Los Angeles in December but is now opening nationally. Scotsman Gerard Butler co-stars, along with Vanessa Redgrave and James Nesbitt.

• Rising star David Oyelowo, who played the villain last summer in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and appeared briefly in The Help, portrays an American World War II flying ace in Red Tails. The movie, inspired by true stories, tells about a group of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. It has long been a passion project of Star Wars producer George Lucas.

• Oscar winner Christian Bale teams up with Chinese director Yimou Zhang (Hero and House of Flying Daggers) for The Flowers of War, a period drama set in Nanking, China, in 1937. When the Japanese military brutally invades the city, Bale is a mortician who poses as a priest, attempting to lead a group of women who’ve taken refuge in a church to safety.


Which of these films do you want to see?


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By Leah Rozen