New Line/Warner Bros.’ Anthony Hopkins exorcism pic The Rite opened on the lower end of expectations, but still won the weekend box office race with an estimated gross of $15 million from 2,985 locations.
Paramount and Spyglass’ romantic comedy No Strings Attached held better than expected, coming in No. 2 and grossing an estimated $13.7 million from 3,022 theaters for a cume of $39.7 million in its first 10 days, according to Rentrak. Showing reaffirms Portman’s present star status.
CBS Films’ action remake The Mechanic, the weekend’s other new entry, tied with Sony holdover The Green Hornet for No. 3, each grossing $11.5 million. That pushes Hornet’s domestic cume to $78.8 million in its third weekend.
Speech, scoring 12 Oscar noms, grossed $11.1 million as it expanded into 2,553 theaters for a cume of $72.2 million. Film, a crossover hit, is now even playing in small towns that don’t usually get specialized fare.
Oscar’s allure was felt offshore as well. Overseas, Speech took in another $6.3 million in the U.K. and $2.1 million in Australia and New Zealand for a foreign cume of at least $60 million and worldwide total of more than $132 million.
In the U.S., Paramount’s True Grit showed a zero decline from the previous weekend, unusual for a film well into its run. The Western, receiving 10 Oscar nods, grossed an estimated $7.6 million from 3,120 theaters for a cume of $148.4 million. Grit placed No. 6.
Internationally, True Grit made its first foreign debut in Australia, where it opened to a stellar $2.3 million from 197 locations for Paramount (Paramount also has rights to King’s Speech in Aussie). That was 200% ahead of the opening for No Country for Old Men, also from the Coen brothers.
Coming in No. 8 at the domestic box office, Fox Searchlight’s awards frontrunner Black Swanwas down only 13% from the previous weekend to jump the $90 million mark on its way to $100 million. Pic grossed an estimated $5.1 million from 2,315 theaters for a cume of $90.7 million.
Swan enjoyed a strong second outing overseas, where it grossed $11.4 million in the U.K., Australia and Germany (pic was up 10% in Germany). Swan’sforeign cume is $29.1 million for a worldwide total of $119.8 million.
Paramount’s The Fighter also benefited from its top Oscar nods, coming in No. 9 at the domestic box office and dipping a slim 5% from the previous weekend. Film grossed an estimated $4.1 million from 1,914 theaters for a cume of $78.4 million.
Searchlight used top Oscar nominations for 127 Hours to relaunch the film. Hours came in No. 14 as it expanded from 69 to 916 theaters, grossing a so-so $1.1 million for a cume of $13.4 million.
“No Strings Attached,” the sole new movie to open nationwide this weekend, found the audience it was looking for at the box office.
The Ashton Kutcher-Natalie Portman romantic comedy opened to a solid $20.3 million, according to studio estimates, making it the most popular film in the country on a slow moviegoing weekend.
It was a good start given that the R-rated movie cost distributor Paramount Pictures and its partner Spyglass Entertainment and Cold Spring Pictures only about $25 million to make.
As expected, given its stars and subject matter — the picture is about about a young couple attempting to have a physical relationship without an emotional one — the audience was overwhelmingly female. Responses were mixed by age, as those younger than 25 gave the movie an A-, and those over 25 gave it a B, according to market-research firm CinemaScore.
Last weekend’s two new movies both saw typical drops, indicating that word-of-mouth is neither good enough to make the surprise hits nor bad enough to make them sink quickly. Receipts for the Seth Rogen action-comedy “The Green Hornet” declined 46% to $18.1 million, bringing its box-office total to a pretty good $63.4 million. The Kevin James-Vince Vaughn adult comedy “The Dilemma” dropped 45% to $9.7 million for a soft but not terrible $33.4-million total.
“The King’s Speech” demonstrated that it continued to be the hot indie drama of the moment as ticket sales didn’t decline at all from the previous weekend, remaining at $9.2 million, a sign of extraordinary word-of-mouth. Even accounting for the 137 new theaters the Weinstein Co. added to the run of the historical drama, ticket sales at existing locations were down only 9%. Its domestic box-office total is now a strong $58.6 million.
Ticket sales for “Black Swan,” the other popular indie movie of the last couple of months, declined a modest 26% to $6.2 million. The Natalie Portman psychological drama has racked up a box-office total of $83.6 million.