Anthony Hopkins Horror Movie 'The Rite' Poised to Top Weekend Box Office
Jason Statham starrer "The Mechanic" also opens wide, while Oscar-nominated films "King's Speech" and "127 Hours" make major expansions.
Fox Searchlight is all but relaunching 127 Hours, which ups its theater count from 69 to 916.
New Line'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 pic, 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 noms, and it finished Wednesday with a domestic cume of $60 million.
Fox Searchlight waited until after the Oscar noms 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 noms, 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 nom for best documentary.
Roadside Attractions waited until now to officially open Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Biutiful, for which Javier Bardem picked up an Oscar nom 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 noms, particularly overseas, where True Grit opened Wednesday in Australia.