Warner's exorcist-themed Anthony Hopkins movie "The Rite" led the domestic box office Friday, grossing an $5.3 million but way undershooting pre-release projections that have the film taking in about $18 million for the weekend, according to studio estimates.
CBS Films' remake of the Charles Bronson violence fest "The Mechanic" was the only other film debuting in wide release. It took in an estimated $3.6 million Friday, matching the studio's expected pace.
Beyond the middlig debuts of two low-to-moderate budget wide-audience films, however, the big story at the box office this weekend is the performance of the Academy Award-nominated adult dramas.
Significantly upping its theater count to 2,557 theaters after nine weeks of release, "Weinstein Company's 12-category-nominee "The King's Speech" grossed an estimated $2.8 million Friday, a 31 percent week-over-week bump.
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight for all intents-and-purposes re-released the Danny Boyle-directed Best Picture nominee "127 Hours" to 916 theaters (it was only in a handful last weekend) and grossed a solid $600,000 Friday.
Here's a look at Friday's top 10:
"The Rite" ($5.3m)
"No Strings Attached" ($4.4m)
"The Mechanic" ($3.6m)
"The Green Hornet" ($2.9m)
"The King's Speech" ($2.8m)
"True Grit" ($2.0m)
"The Dilemma" ($1.7m)
"The Fighter" ($976k)
"Little Fockers" ($677k)
It's about exorcising demons at the box office this weekend.
With Anthony Hopkins set to play a go-to priest for those experiencing demonic-possessive issues, Warner is opening the PG-13-rated "The Rite" in 2,985 theaters this weekend and is expecting to gross somewhere between $16 million and $18 million for its trouble and lead the box office.
CBS Films, meanwhile, is opening "The Mechanic" — a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson hitman classic — in 2,703 domestic locations, and is expecting to make around $8 million. Jason Statham stars.
It's a modest target for the R-rated film, but not a bad one considering CBS Films paid only around $4 million to acquire North American distribution rights for "The Mechanic" from Avi Lerner's Millennium Films, which spent around $40 million to make it.
It was at this time last year that the fledgling CBS Films division's first movie, the Harrison Ford film "Extraordinary Measures."
With about 70 percent of the film's target audience, males 25 or older, registering awareness about "The Mechanic," and about 45 percent of them expressing definite interest in seeing it, CBS films will look to exorcise some bad memories this weekend.
Meanwhile, Lionsgate is quietly rolling out projects from its new Latin films division, Pantelion, a collaboration with Televisa set to release 4-6 Latin-American-targeted movies this year.
First up is the low-budget ($3.5 million low) romantic comedy "From Prada to Nada," which co-stars Wilmer Valderrama and is set to open into 256 theaters.
There will also be a lot of action along the awards-contender front this weekend.
Fresh off its 12 Academy Award nominations earlier this week, the Weinstein Company's "The King's Speech" will undergo major expansion, nearly doubling its footprint to around 2,500 screens.
Having already brought in close to $110 million worldwide, "King's Speech" is set to gross around $11 million in the U.S. and Canada this weekend.
Fox Searchlight will also re-expand the Danny Boyle-directed Best Picture nominee "127 Hours" by about 400 locations, bringing it to 916.
And after introducing Best Foreign Film nominee "Biutiful" last month for an Oscar qualifying run, Roadside Attractions will bring the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed film, which stars Best Actor nominee Javier Bardem to 57 theaters.