After finishing in first on Friday, The Rite stayed on top with a three day estimate of $15 million from its 2,985 locations. No Strings Attached followed in second place, holding on to 58% of its first weekend total. The Mechanic opened in third for the weekend with $11.5 million, a figure that was well above most projections for the R-rated action film.
|2||No Strings Attached||$13,700,000||$39.7|
|4||The Green Hornet||$11,500,000||$78.8|
|5||The King’s Speech||$11,100,000||$72.2|
Once again, weekend estimates for the last frame in January are well below 2010 levels. One year ago Avatar was enjoying its seventh (!) weekend at number one with $31.2 million: more than double this weekend’s estimate for The Rite. A side-by-side comparison of Avatar and any film is unfair, of course, but even when you take the Na’vi out of the mix this week’s entire top ten is less than 20% ahead of 2010’s remaining top nine.
In first place is the Warner Brothers’ thriller The Rite. The PG-13 feature stars Anthony Hopkins. It’s difficult to compare this film to any of the actor’s past titles because Hopkins’ scary roles tend to garner R-ratings. His last, Universal’s The Wolfman, opened to $31.4 million in February of 2010 and both 2001’s Hannibal and 2002’s Red Dragon came in significantly higher than The Rite even before adjusting for inflation. The film cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million so, number one opening aside, this is not a runaway hit quite yet.
The news was a little better for the number two film, No Strings Attached. After posting a decent debut with $19.6 million, last weekend’s number one movie held better than anticipated. The R-rated comedy has now earned an estimated $39.7 million in ten days. With next weekend free of traditional competition, No Strings has a chance for another decent hold which would put it firmly in the “hit” column even after marketing costs are added on to Paramount’s reported $25 million budget.
The weekend’s second new release, The Mechanic, comes from the beleaguered CBS Films: the studio behind Faster and The Back-Up Plan. Earlier in the week the studio said it was looking for an opening of just under $10 million. The good news is that The Mechanic came in above that figure and, though it was expected to drop down to fifth place after Friday, the R-rated drama held its ground and managed to tie with The Green Hornet to stay in third for now. CBS apparently paid $5 million to distribute the Jason Statham title, which means that the studio will see profit as long as The Mechanic makes it past the $23.1 million that Faster saw last November. Considering that the latter film is already well ahead of the former’s $8.5 million debut I’m gonna say that that goal is completely doable.
Earlier this week, the nominations for this year’s Oscar awards were announced. Of the four films in the top ten to receive nominations, The King’s Speech was, once again, the most impressive, climbing 30% over last weekend to bring its new domestic estimate to $72.2 million. Black Swan fell just 13% while The Fighter was down less than 3% after losing 361 of its theatres.
Friends tell me that there is a sporting event being held next weekend that should keep the box office at its now familiarly sleepy pace. Two new films will, nonetheless, brave the waters of the 2011 multiplex including the 3D thriller Sanctum from producer James Cameron. Last year the romantic Dear John had a big $30 million opening on Super Bowl weekend. We’ll see if an R-rated thriller can do the same one year later.