Hopkins has ‘The Rite’ Stuff at the Box Office

095142H1.jpgAnthony Hopkins will have The Rite stuff this weekend, while The Mechanic will try to put extra gas in the box office tank.

Having played one of the most iconic movie villains of all-time, Anthony Hopkins now takes up priestly duties in Warner Bros.’ The Rite on over 3,000 screens this weekend.  A gross in the mid to high teens is to be expected and leaning toward the high side given the huge marketing push for the PG-13 rated horror/thriller.  January tends to be a fairly scary month with horror movies and thrillers appearing often enough that such films are an expected staple of the time frame.  2010 had the action-fantasy Legion and the action horror film Daybreakers while 2009 included Underworld: Rise of the Lycans and the horror entry The Unborn.  These films had opening weekends in the $15 million to $20 million range and thus an expectation for the same for exorcism-themed The Rite is not unreasonable.

The so-called “Oscar box office bump” may fully manifest itself with Weinstein Co.’s The King’s Speech this weekend after grabbing 12 Oscar nominations this week including Best Picture, Best Actor and recognition in other numerous high-profile categories.  This sets the stage for the film to achieve its highest chart position yet by adding a whopping 870 theaters to the acclaimed film’s run that should bring a king’s ransom in the $10 million range and put it at over $70 in North American revenue by Sunday’s end.

Of course King George VI will have to avoid a royal butt-kicking by the ever present man of mayhem Jason Statham in the 2011 update of the 1972 classic action film The Mechanic which starred Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent.  Fun fact: The original and this re-make boast the classic production team of Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff.  In this CBS Films release, the terrific Ben Foster (who played Russell Crowe’s gun-slinging sidekick in 3:10 to Yuma) brings his particular brand of psychotic intensity to the role of junior hit man working in an unholy alliance with his mentor.  The R-rated “red band” trailer is tailor-made for the young males who love this type of buddy R-rated action yarn and a gross in the $7 million to $9 million range could be on target for the film.

This presents yet another box office pileup situation in the top 5.  Last weekend’s number one film No Strings Attached from Paramount is likely to romance a second weekend gross in the $8 million to $10 million range with similar aspirations for Sony’s The Green Hornet, Paramount’s Oscar nominated True Grit and even Oscar darling Black Swan from Fox Searchlight in the mix as they fight for their place in the 3rd, 4th and 5th positions.

Overall the industry continues to pale to the year ago marketplace which was led by a staggering 7th weekend Avatar first place finish with a gross of $31.3 million.  This will unfortunately mean that we will suffer through weekend number twelve of our ongoing down streak at the box office.