'The Rite' #1, 'The Mechanic' #4; Best Picture Nominees Begin Oscar Bumps

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: The big news this weekend wasn’t just seeing whether domestic grosses were depressed on the post-blizzard East Coast (they weren’t), but also which movies received Oscar bumps given that the Academy Award nominations were announced this past Tuesday (all of them still in theaters). Some like The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, Blue Valentine (because of Michelle Williams’ Best Actress nom), and Rabbit Hole (due to Nicole Kidman’s), all expanded their runs. True Grit, Black Swan, The Fighter, are still in the thick of their releases and held very well, including Golden Globe Best Drama winner The Social Network in limited release for a return engagement to improve on its $96M domestic cume. (But King’s Speech attendance could soar if The Weinstein Co succeeds in creating a PG-13 version for exhibitors and educators who want the R-rated movie available to a bigger audience.)

As for this weekend’s newcomers, studios hoped that house-bound blizzard victims would dig out and go to the movies on this football-less Sunday. Warner Bros’ exorcism genre pic The Rite starring Anthony Hopkins and playing in 2,985 theaters came in #1 with approximately $15 million. CBS Films released hit man flick The Mechanic with 2,703 runs for #3 Friday. But the Jason Statham starrer fell to 4th Sunday with $11.5M. CBS Films paid $5M for the distribution rights and the pic supposedly will be in profit if its domestic run gets to the mid-$20sM. “It’s coming in where we expected,” one insider tells me. “I’d rather our bottom line than The Rite‘s any day of the week.” (Snap!) I’ve been hearing a “reconfiguring” is coming to the still struggling movie unit. CBS Films will make more acquisitions to fill the pipeline. It needs to find a big fat hit fast. Even CBS Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson took cheap shots at CBS Films Friday night.

Last week’s #1 film, Paramount’s R-rated rom-com No Strings Attached, had an excellent -32% hold from the previous weekend. Anyway, here’s the Top 10:

1. The Rite (New Line/Warner Bros) NEW [2,985 Theaters]
Friday $5.3M, Saturday $6.2M, Weekend $15M

Tracking had been strong but the studio had expected a gross in the $17M-19M range. CinemaScore was a “B”. The audience equally divided between males and females, with 64% over the age of 25. The studio used Anthony Hopkins’ pedigree to pursue an older target for the film. To appeal to younger moviegoers, it exploited the intensity of the exorcism moments and the premise of the unknown in the marketing materials. Interestingly, as Warner Bros was developing the campaign, the topic of exorcists became a current news event with the recent increase in the Catholic Church’s recruitment and training of exorcists to fill what they characterized as an alarmingly growing need. This news got coverage, resulting in a high profile OP Ed piece in the New York Times. We bolstered that piece, and used a quote from it in the main trailer and in several TV spots, a very unusual tool that anchored our disturbing, effective premise that the film is “based on true events”.

Hopkins’ pedigree is the core of the campaign, and he has done a very heavy press schedule on everything from Regis to Charlie Rose, and morning shows to late night. Additionally, we launched a significant Hispanic marketing campaign, through publicity, grass roots activity and a heavy media buy.

We also developed the faith angle through an extensive program with our consultants at Grace Hill Media. The outreach included drafting off of the topical conversation that was already happening within the church and allowing that to give the film a level of credibility. Father Gary Thomas participated in a number of interviews for us including an LA Times piece and a segment on Nightline that aired the Thursday before we opened. While this is a difficult segment to pinpoint in the tracking, the message of the film clearly has relevance for that audience and we feel that we captured their interest.

The campaign kicked off with trailers on Hereafter, Saw VII and movies throughout the holiday season to target both younger & older moviegoers. We built a mix of broad commercial films & older, more sophisticated awards films to get the right exposure.

We also ran a heavy TV schedule on everything from BCS College football games to NFL playoffs, and broad multi-targeted programming.

In terms of tracking, The Rite shows a pretty well-balanced balanced awareness and interest profile. The younger audiences will tend to gravitate to the suspense-thriller genre, while older audiences are likely to be drawn to the genre plus Anthony Hopkins appearing in his first starring role in quite some time. Notably, there were aggressive efforts in the last week towards Latino moviegoers, which could generate some upside to the film’s opening weekend prospects as they tend to represent early boxoffice attendees.

As the campaign evolved, the nature of the story (centering around faith and belief) & the pedigree of Hopkins naturally led us to pursue an older target for the film. But we also wanted to appeal to younger moviegoers, so we exploited the intensity of the exorcism moments and the premise of the unknown in our marketing materials. Interestingly, as we were developing the campaign, the topic of exorcists became a current news event with the recent increase in the Catholic Church’s recruitment and training of exorcists to fill what they characterized as an alarmingly growing need. This news got coverage, resulting in a high profile OP Ed piece in the New York Times. We bolstered that piece, and used a quote from it in the main trailer and in several TV spots, a very unusual tool that anchored our disturbing, effective premise that the film is “based on true events”.

Hopkins’ pedigree is the core of the campaign, and he has done a very heavy press schedule on everything from Regis to Charlie Rose, and morning shows to late night. Additionally, we launched a significant Hispanic marketing campaign, through publicity, grass roots activity and a heavy media buy.

We also developed the faith angle through an extensive program with our consultants at Grace Hill Media. The outreach included drafting off of the topical conversation that was already happening within the church and allowing that to give the film a level of credibility. Father Gary Thomas participated in a number of interviews for us including an LA Times piece and a segment on Nightline that aired the Thursday before we opened. While this is a difficult segment to pinpoint in the tracking, the message of the film clearly has relevance for that audience and we feel that we captured their interest.

The campaign kicked off with trailers on Hereafter, Saw VII and movies throughout the holiday season to target both younger & older moviegoers. We built a mix of broad commercial films & older, more sophisticated awards films to get the right exposure.

We also ran a heavy TV schedule on everything from BCS College football games to NFL playoffs, and broad multi-targeted programming.

In terms of tracking, The Rite shows a pretty well-balanced balanced awareness and interest profile. The younger audiences will tend to gravitate to the suspense-thriller genre, while older audiences are likely to be drawn to the genre plus Anthony Hopkins appearing in his first starring role in quite some time. Notably, there were aggressive efforts in the last week towards Latino moviegoers, which could generate some upside to the film’s opening weekend prospects as they tend to represent early boxoffice attendees.

2. No Strings Attached (Paramount) Week 2 [3,022 Theaters]
Friday $4.3M, Saturday $5.7M, Weekend $13.6M (-31%),  Cume $39.7M.
3. The Green Hornet 3D (Sony) Week 3 [3,022 Theaters]
Friday $2.9M, Saturday $5.4M, Weekend $11.5M, Cume $78.8M
4. The Mechanic (CBS Films) NEW [2,703 Theaters]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $4.9M, Weekend $11.5M
5. The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co) Week 10 [2,557 Theaters]
Friday $2.8M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $11.1M, Cume $72.2M
6. True Grit (Paramount) Week 6 [3,120 Theaters]
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $3.5M, Weekend $7.6M, Cume $148.3M
7. The Dilemma (Universal) Week 3 [2,901 Theaters]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.8M, Weekend $5.4M, Cume $40.6M
8. Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) Week 9 [2,315 Theaters]
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5.1M, Cume $90.7M
9. The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) Week 8 [1,914 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $2M, Weekend $4M, Cume $78.3M
10. Yogi Bear 3D (Warner Bros) Week 7 [2,133 Theaters]
Friday $570K, Estimated Weekend $3.1M, Cume $92.5M

  1. Nikki I love your definitions of hit and flop- $15m is a supposed runaway #1 while $10m is a distant flop. Almost like the time you called The Tourist a BOMB when the real story was Narnia’s disastrous $22m opening on a $150m+ budget. I saw The Mechanic tonight and thought it was awesome.

    1. -she said nothing about the rite being a runaway, merely that it as #1 this week. it is.
      -she said the mechanic will be a distant 5th. 5th IS distant for a wide release opening weekend. she didn’t say it was a flop, actually there is a quote indicating it will make money.
      -the tourist domestic take so far is $65, narnia over $100. worldwide, one will make money, one will lose.

    2. I’m not sure how Narnia’s performance is any worse than The Tourist. Both have grossed 2/3 of their budgets domestically. Both have done much better overseas with Narnia likely top earn more than $400 million worldwide.

      1. I saw “The Mechanic” last night and really loved it, but the theater was only about a third of the way full, if that.

  2. Unless the MPAA grants a special waiver they will need to pull the R rated version of The King’s Speech for 90 days before being allowed to run the PG-13 version. If they pulled it after the weekend the 90 days would bring them to May when summer season is in full swing. I think the re-cut will all come down to whether or not the MPAA will grant them that waiver.

  3. Good for The Rite. A solid dramatic thriller…not cheesy horror. Ads are a little misleading but the film is worth a look.

  4. If The Rite opens to $15 it will lose $20, sorry New Line.

    At least Sony and Paramount know how to properly buy an opening.

  5. The Rite cost $40 and is a hit at $15, The Mechanic cost $5 and is a miss at $10?

    I’m no expert but that seems odd.

    1. Yeah, there has to be more to it than that. CBS paid $5mil for distribution rights, but certainly the film cost way more than that to produce. So does that mean CBS is sharing the boxoffice with the Producers? Can someone explain how the money works on this deal?

      1. $5 is likely their MG. So what Nikki’s saying is correct. Add on their marketing costs and they’ll break even in the mid-20s and then they’ll share the profits with the producers.

        1. They paid 6 for US rights. Lionsgate had it first but didn’t want to cough up an MG to Avi.

          Good for CBS and Friedlander. It’s a good movie…

      2. “The Mechanic” was financed by Nu Image/Millennium for — my guess? — around $15 million. CBS paid a Minimum Guarantee of $5 million, plus what I suspect is relatively high P&A costs (they advertised the shit out of this one).

        1. The paid ad on Mechanic was around $16 CBS is like Disney they have all that free promotional airtime.

          Nikki’s correct on the break.

  6. I find it a somewhat disturbing that educators are requesting a PG version of The King’s Speech when they are also teaching about free speech and the role censorship has played in stifling the arts. Even if they just bleeped the f word, most kids are going to know what he’s saying anyway.

    1. Agreed.

      And to be honest, the film is making a mint anyway just as it is. It’s already well over $100 million global on a $15 million budget and has a LOT of earning left to do before it ends any run it has.

      They must be in the gravy zone already so why pander to the PG-13 rating. Given the context of the use of the word in the film there was no way this ahould have been an R in the first place.

      It was a ridiculous decision.

      1. get a grip. making a version 10 year olds can watch in school is neither pandering nor giving up free speech. do not the makers/owners of this movie have a right to cut some scenes and both make more money and reach a wider audience with a movie that might also interest a future movie-goer in seeing something besides the usual trash?

    2. I know. Harvey is delusional to believe Mormons will make or break this movie. What a fucked up world we live in when the MPAA thinks The Rite is more appropriate for your 13 year old than F bombs especially since they’re actually part of the TRUE STORY.

  7. Really, are there that many under 17s that want to see the King’s Speech with their friends, as apposed to with an adult guardian? Really? Why butcher a film to chase teens, who probably think this film is “gay”.

    1. all the cool kids are gonna be like “let’s go see that 3 month old movie about a world war 2 king with a stutter!”

      1. Wow, you guys don’t have much faith in teens, do you? I have friends whose kids saw it and were crazy about it.

      2. The whole post is a sham – 127 Days just added 300 screens and TV ad campaign and got back maybe 3000 a screen for one weekend – that means they probably lost 5-10 mil on the transaction – some bump – the whole nonsense of chasing awards is a money loser and for every hit the weinsteins and fox searchlight get – there are several bombs sitting right behind or on harvey’s shelf – read biskind’s book about miramax – there’s a reason disney and warners got out of the “specialty” game – it’s a money loser

        1. I think you’re misinterpreting Biskind’s book. Specialty movies weren’t a money-loser. As Miramax became more successful, they chased movies with larger budgets, bigger names, etc. The indie world, the book argued (in a way) is cyclical. A small company experiences success and chases it until it isn’t profitable anymore, then it collapses. Miramax stopped being a “specialty film” company, at which point Disney had no real place for it. It was like one studio owning another studio. It made no sense, and it wasn’t a strong profit center. Not because movies like “The Crying Game” weren’t making money anymore; Miramax wasn’t making movies like “The Crying Game” anymore. They were trying to make movies like “Cold Mountain” and “The Aviator.”

  8. The Rite was boring crap. Hopkins performance was the only entertaining thing about it. Will fall 60% or more next weekend. The Roommate will be number 1 next weekend with 15-20M.

    1. @ Jakob You better hope the weather clears up by then and that your crappy marketing campaign actually penetrates to the 12-16 year olds your hoping haven’t seen this kind of film before. Otherwise 15-20 is a pipe dream. Not that Sony would actually profit from their gross overspending of marketing dollars anyways at that level.

  9. Th Rite has one of the worst posters of all time. Why does Warner Bros spend so much on making its movies but have the absolute worst taste in marketing? The poster for The Rite is a poorly photoshopped image of Anthony Hopkins big head floating behind a cut-out of a cross. The poster looks like it was done by a high-school design student in 1994. Further proof that Warner Bros does not know how to market horror. If Lions Gate had marketed this movie it would have made at least 40 million opening weekend.

    1. Must be the same team that did the poster for How Do You Know. $120M movie (before P&A) with a poster that I could have made in a few minutes with MS Paint.

      1. I thought I was the only one who was utterly shocked at how poorly done the poster was for How Do You Know lol.

    2. I think they were trying to go for a bigger swath of the marketplace than just horror. Have a little bit of horror with a little bit of silence of the lambs. Come on Lionsgate, even you have to admit that the horror box office only shows up once a year.

      1. I don’t know where you are, but I can’t possibly imagine that you’re in New York City. We New Yorkers spent the better part of our lives on or waiting for subways and buses, and the only sights we have to look at aside from old subway tile and gum-littered floors are the giant double-sized movie posters. I have regular conversations with several different people about how we are or aren’t interested in a new movie based solely on the poster. I know that most people don’t even realize it and probably refuse to believe it, but a blank stare at a movie poster during a bored moment in a person’s day can be a powerful subliminal tool.

          1. @ steve — uh, so apparently you think movies aren’t advertised on buses and subways in Chicago or Atlanta or Philly? This only happens in NYC?

            No, that’s not 8-10 million in a country of 320 million, that’s anyone who uses public transportation with any regularity, which depending on which studies you look at is about 50 million. And that’s just the people actually riding, not those forced to look at the sides of buses when they cut you off.

            Don’t be an idiot.

      2. Dude, “posters” don’t just go on walls anymore. They also show up on this little thingy called the internet, but they’re “digital” instead of “paper”.

        1. so? no one with any sort of intelligence decides to see a movie or not based on a freaking poster.

          and if you had any sort of intelligence you’d use firefox with ad block plus and you see ZERO ads on the internet.

          1. Dude you’re delusional if you think 1/3 of people don’t decide what to see based on outdoor (posters), 1/3 based on TV spots and the other 1/3 based on word of mouth. That’s the game – I’m not sure what world you’re living in.

            It may not be “right”, but that’s the way it goes. Only in an idyllic world would potential audiences NOT, as you say, “decide to see a movie or not based on a freaking poster.”

          2. One sheets sell movies, dude. Unless you think all those kids out there using the internet to determine content consumption are reading REVIEWS! Numbskull.

  10. Most movies i would be up in arms about them cutting for a PG after the film has came out. But come on, I am pretty sure all they would have to do is cut out the scene where Colin Firth says the F word for a minute straight.

    1. yeah, that’d be great if both scenes where he does that weren’t pretty pretty important
      also, if they were to just dub over some milder words, it would destroy the nice little thematic element that is him being able to do something that he must do (give the speech) thanks to doing something that he mustn’t do (swearing)

    2. That scene had two actors that will win Oscars, directed by someone nominated for an Oscar, and written by another one that was nominated for an Oscar. To cut or change that scene is a degradation of the art that they created.

  11. Considering The King’s Speech is pretty much a lock for 100M DOM at the moment, I hope the Weinsteins won’t touch it. Who cares if it got an R-rating when it is still a HUGE hit considering the budget, target audience and VERY British story ? It will end over 100M in North America and will DEFINITELY end over 100M overseas…on a 15M budget. So why butcher it ?
    That’s an excellent number for No Strings Attached, 70-80M could easily happen and once again, considering the budget (and the potentially great international numbers), that’s impressive.
    Black Swan is also a lock for 100M DOM (and probably at least the same overseas), I guess the only question is whether The Fighter could actually reach 100M OR it will finish around 90-95M.

    1. Completely Agree. Why would the Weinsteins even need to market a PG version of the film when the current version is on pace for well over $100 million at the domestic box office? Also, the fact that True Grit, Black Swan and The King’s Speech have all performed amazingly well at the box office rekindles some small hope deep inside me that not all Americans love crappy movies.

  12. THE SOCIAL NETWORK will only fail to get the Oscar because it came out too early in the year. What a stupid game this “race” is. THE FIGHTER is the only other worthy contender. Don’t even start with THE KING’S SPEECH. It’s a good TV drama, but not a Best Picture film. And what’s worse? Geoffrey Rush IS the leading man in the film and deserves the accolades, not Colin Firth. Get over your pretentious selves.

    1. The Fighter sucks vegan meatballs at a meat carnival!

      The only award it will get come Oscar time is for acting.

      Best director?

      Best film?

      Best screenplay?

      Nope, nope and nope. Three STRIKES and you’re out. An overrated and overwrought — not to mention UNORIGINAL — movie of fake pseudo uplift if I ever saw it. Will be hilarious to see Russell and Wahlberg’s squishy, pasty faces when the movie flops on Oscar night.

      Like the NY Jet’s football player said after they upset the Patriots in the playoffs: CAN’T WAIT!

      1. I disliked The Fighter as much as the next sane person, but winning 2 Oscars (and major ones at that) will hardly be disappointing. I don’t think anyone involved has honest expectations of winning Picture, Director, or Screenplay, especially when it’s up against the likes of King’s Speech, Social Network, True Grit, and Black Swan.

  13. All these estimations, predictions, projections, assumptions, and opinions. Remember when news people only dealt in hard facts? Then again it’s harder to spin facts alone.

  14. I wonder if The Kings Speech might just snatch the Oscar from Social Network due to it’s consistent box office in the months running up to it (yeah yeah I know that didn’t work for Avatar) – though if you ask me, somehow getting The Reader NOMINATED for Best Picture back in 2009 should be enough of a prize to tide the Weinsteins over until at least 2030. And I don’t doubt for a minute they’ll still be around then hawking period pieces.

    I’d still like to think David Fincher or even Darren Aronofsky are the shoo-ins for Director no matter where Picture goes. They might come across as a bit one-trick at times but it’s a fun trick to watch nonetheless.

    1. It’s starting to look like the Social Network will end up with a statue for Sorkin who’s all but admitted his version was BS and maybe a score for Trent Resnor although I think that one is questionable as well. Kind of sad considering the Academy will end up giving a the Best Pic to a film that easily could have played on HBO. It just shows why the industry is losing it’s youth audience and is headed for irrelevance faster than the music industry in 2000.

      1. I LIKED The King’s Speech, but if it wins best film it’s further proof that most people – even members of the Academy – will always be drawn to straightforward, “uplifting” material, packaged as high art because it’s period and historical, but not at all interested in challenging the viewer beyond the inclusion of some curse words.

  15. It looks like “Black Swan” will make well over $100 million before it leaves theaters…..COOL! :)

    I bet no one (even me) saw that happening a few weeks ago.

  16. A coment made by Ulgar sayind that young people will think the film is a bout “gays” shows that the young americans di not have any idea of world history and they still hate the english.

    Its realy a stupid comment Cesina

    1. To American teens now, the term “gay” has taken on a pejorative meaning beyond homosexual. It’s a derisive term for anything they don’t like. It’s not a reference specific to history or the English. Also, weren’t you paying attention to the Vince Vaughn controversy with the trailer for “The Dilemma?”

    2. yes, young americans hate the english. i hear all the time my little cousins saying “Those UK wankers still think they have the best Navy in the world!”

  17. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER was pared down for a PG rerelease back after it first came out; that’s how I got to see it when I was a kid. I haven’t seen THE KING’S SPEECH but it sounds like it’ll only have to lose one brief scene to come down from an R…and of course the uncut version will be the one released on DVD etc. once theatrical is done.

  18. The Weinsteins toads will do anything to squeeze out an extra buck. They did it in the old days with some concert film. Forget the name of it. It’s in the book by Peter Biskind. They took one concert film and screwed everyone involved by cutting it into multiple films and releasing them for quite a period of time. That’s how they were able to get into acquiring movies and started their reputation for butchering films and screwing filmmakers all in the name of the mighty dollar. The only reason they’re trotting out a PG version of The King’s Speech is to make some extra cash. It has nothing to do with teaching children history or anything.

    In regard to The Mechanic, I thought Lionsgate produced that so why aren’t they marketing it? They would have done a much better job than CBS Films. Strange way for Lionsgate to treat Jason Statham who’s made a lot of money for the studio over the years. It’ll do very well on DVD though.

  19. It is such bull that the “East Coast Snowstorm” deflates grosses. Where I am at on the East Coast it INCREASES them! The theaters are always jammed pack when it snows, because everywhere else is closed. Maybe this is only the Greater Philadelphia area, but I have a hunch it is like this elsewhere too.

  20. Football-less Sunday my ass. The Pro-Bowl will be airing live from Hawaii!! Can’t wait!

    But yes, after the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl, normal guys will return to theaters.

    1. Not to get off topic but putting the Pro Bowl back in Hawaii was a mistake, and you’re going to get the same naff ratings that it’s had for years.

  21. I’m 18. I really want to see The King’s Speech. Would I prefer a PG-13 version? YES! Some may argue that PG-13 restricts free speech, but I believe it enhances it. A movie, and an elegantly made movie nonetheless, shows me the beauty of language when it’s not polluted with such useless, empty words.

    1. Which unfortunately just establishes that the point of the scene and the use of the word within it was lost on you.

      For you would realise that it wasn’t useless OR empty in the way it was used.

    2. If you’re 18, nothing is keeping you from seeing this film as it is. As far as its language goes, the swearing scene was one of the best in the movie. Altering the movie for a lower rating would be an artistic travesty.

      This controversy brings to mind The Social Network and its obvious capitulation to its PG-13 rating – where coke was being snorted off the stomachs of underage girls. Because they phonily had bras securely on, the R rating was avoided (and bigger box office was assured). So it’s ok for under-17s to see a coke-snorting orgy as long as the teen girls involved are wearing bras, but it’s not ok for them to hear a string of F words in a speech therapy session. Go figure.

      1. I think the pg 13 for the social network was not only accepted because the girls were wearing bras, but because they got arrested for the drugs. Usually the mpaa is ok with drugs as long as there appears to be a punishment associated with the actions of the users. With all that said, the way language is demonized by the mpaa (and the fcc for that matter) is absolutely ridiculous.

    3. By calling them useless, empty words, it’s clear you don’t understand the nature of the foul language in King’s Speech.

      But that’s the point: everyone is arguing that parents shouldn’t mind the use of expletives in King’s Speech, and that it needlessly censors a meaningful film. This line of reasoning is absolutely correct and totally irrelevant. It’s not our opinion that matters, but that of the parents. We know that the scene in question is not extraneous fluff, but the parents don’t. So it seems entirely reasonable to go the route that produces extra profits, and more views of this beautiful movie.

  22. It’s at least nice to see deserving B-list actors like Statham and Foster get some work though.

  23. I like Jason Statham…BUT he needs to fire his agent, stop doing 10 movies a year, and restrict himself to working only with high profile action guys like Tony Scott or Doug Liman, and get into a better class of thriller/action pictures. If not, he’s going to be
    Mr. “Coming To Redbox in Three Weeks” forever.

    1. Agreed–he’s way better than the movies he’s been in lately, and it’s high time he upped his game.

  24. There are only two real contenders for the Best Picture Oscar The social Network and The King’s Speech. I am rooting for TSN but believe the edge has to go to TheKings Speech because The Weinsteins know how to play that game better than anyone. Remember Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan. Sony has their work cut out for them.

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