'The Rite' poised to top weekend box office

Updated: 2011-01-30 13:45


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'The Rite' poised to top weekend box office

LOS ANGELES  - Theater marquees will be crowded this weekend as commercial titles "The Rite" and "The Mechanic" enter the market and Oscar darlings "The King's Speech" and "127 Hours" make major expansions.

New Line Cinema's "The Rite," starring Anthony Hopkins, should win the weekend and gross in the mid-to high teens. Playing in 2,985 theaters, the horror pic -- about a skeptical young priest who must perform an exorcism on Hopkins' character -- hopes to capitalize on the success of August release "The Last Exorcism".

"The Rite" should play heavily to Catholic audiences, and especially Catholic Hispanics. Rite is tracking well among men and women over 25, but interest among younger females is softer than expected.

Lionsgate's "From Prada to Nada," opening in only 256 theaters, will go after young Hispanic females. Loosely based on Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", "Prada" is the first film from the Lionsgate-Televisa joint venture Pantelion Films.

Starring action favorite Jason Statham, CBS Films' "The Mechanic" opens in 2,700 theaters. The film, which CBS Films is distributing for Avi Lerner's Nu Image/Millennium, is a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson film of the same name.

"Mechanic" is leading "The Rite" in terms of interest among younger males and should gross in the high single digits or even low teens.

"The Mechanic" could find itself in a race for No. 2 with the Weinstein Co.'s "King's Speech," which expands from 1,680 theaters into 2,553 on the heels of picking up 12 Oscar nominations. The film is already seeing a hearty boost from the nominations, and it finished Wednesday with a domestic total of $60 million.

Fox Searchlight waited until after the Oscar nominations Tuesday to have another go with "127 Hours," which has underperformed at the box office since opening in early November. The James Franco drama, which earned six nominations, has grossed $11.3 million.

Sony Pictures Classics is taking the same approach with the documentary "Inside Job," which opened in October. The film, which has grossed about $3.7 million, boosts its theater count from 23 to 250 after landing an Oscar nomination for best documentary.

Roadside Attractions waited until now to officially open Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Biutiful," for which Javier Bardem picked up an Oscar nomination for best actor. It will play on 57 screens in 27 markets, a bold push for a foreign-language film.

"True Grit," "Black Swan" and "The Fighter" also could be buoyed from their multiple Oscar nominations, particularly overseas, where "True Grit "opened Wednesday in Australia.


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