Inside Pulse Box Office Report: The Rite Exorcises Weekend BO, Takes First

Ouch. These truly are the dog days of winter. A big storm in the Northeast played a factor in this weekend’s totals, but in a weekend that saw the release of an exorcism pic and another Jason Statham rock’em sock’em action flick, it couldn’t have been more than a few million per film.

The last time Anthony Hopkins starred in a live-action film that finished first its opening weekend was back in 2002 where he reprized his Academy Award winning role of Hannibal Lecter for the third and final time in Red Dragon. This weekend his film The Rite managed to win the weekend box office race with an estimated gross of $15 million. This was below industry expectations as horror entries can routinely fetch in the $20 million range for an opening weekend before taking a nosedive in successive weekends.

Last week’s big winner, No Strings Attached continued to get some love from audiences netting $13.7 million on more than 3000 screens. So far the $25 million feature has amassed $39.7 million in its first ten days of release.

CBS Films, which treated us to such dreck in 2010 with Extraordinary Measures and The Back-Up Plan, looked to flex its genre muscles with the release of Faster, starring Dwayne Johnson, last November. Sadly, the film didn’t catch fire with audiences. I myself enjoyed the character Johnson played, but felt its ending was too anticlimactic. With its release of The Mechanic with Jason Statham in the lead here again is the movie distributor trying to gain a foothold in the action game. At $11.5 million it is the distributor’s second-best opening weekend performance thus far, sadly behind the Jennifer Lopez starring Back-Up Plan. To his credit, the action vehicle is on par with Statham’s recent output fetching between $9 to $12 million with each opening.

In a photo finish, estimates have The Mechanic tied with The Green Hornet for third place. The big screen adaptation of the 1930s radio serial that spawned TV shows and comic books has raked in $78.8 million domestically and another $37.5 million overseas. That second number is likely to grow due to Jay Chou’s (he plays Kato) popularity in China, where he is considered that country’s Justin Timberlake.

With Oscar nominations revealed early in the week, there was speculation that a number of the Best Picture nominees would have a noticeable bump in attendance.

The King’s Speech, one of the big Best Picture frontrunners, finally saw its expansion cross 2000 screens. It finished the weekend grossing $11.1 million at 2,553 locations. Not bad for a period drama that picked up the most Oscar nominations with twelve total.

While The Social Network was the top pick in many critics circles, Speech has been picking up steam of late receiving honors from the Producers Guild of America and most recently, as of Saturday night, Tom Hooper won the Director’s Guild of America’s top prize. The drama has passed $70 million in the U.S. The gross is up 32% from the previous weekend.

Other films getting the Oscar rub include True Grit, which actually gained viewers despite losing more than 300 screens. Six weeks into its run its has grossed $148.4 million.

Natalie Portman’s other appearance in the top 10, Black Swan, dipped a little but is nearing $100 million. Already sitting at $90.7 million it is Darren Aronofsky’s biggest success as a director in terms of overall gross.

Mark Wahlberg may have been shut out of the Best Actor race for his portrayal as boxer Micky Ward, but his film The Fighter is still among the top ten conversation talk. Eight weeks in release (seven of those in the top 10) it collected $4.1 million and has accumulated $78.4 million overall.

In the world of the arthouse, Fox Searchlight relaunched Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, expanding it from 69 to 916 theaters. It grossed $2.0 million while finishing No. 14 for the weekend. Michelle Williams scored a second Oscar nomination for her performance in Blue Valentine. That film also saw a bump in attendance earning $1.1 million. New films that had small releases included From Prada to Nada. The Lionsgate comedy looked to be dead on arrival the first time I saw the trailer. It looks like audiences agreed. Opening at 256 locations Prada collected $1.1 million for the weekend. Biutiful starring Javier Bardem in an Oscar nominated performance opened on 56 screens earning $461k. Variance Film’s Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grand Master had a per-screen average of $3,175 as it played on 20 screens. And finally Greg Araki’s Kaboom opened on a single screen earning a little more than $13k.

Box Office Estimates taken from

1. The Rite – $15 million
2. No String Attached – $13.7 million ($39.7 million overall)
3. The Mechanic – $11.5 million
4. The Green Hornet – $11.5 million ($78.8 million overall)
5. The King’s Speech – $11.1 million ($72.2 million overall)
6. True Grit – $7.6 million ($148.3 million overall)
7. The Dilemma – $5.5 million ($40.8 million overall)
8. Black Swan – $5.1 million ($90.7 million overall)
9. The Fighter – $4 million ($78.3 million overall)
10. Yogi Bear – $3.2 million ($92.5 million overall)

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