Coming off a string of flops that have included The Wolfman and Slipstream, Anthony Hopkins was able to exercise a few demons.
Jason Statham, meanwhile, did what he always does -- open a low-budget action movie to a respectable but not huge number.
And awards movies including The King's Speech cashed in on all those Academy Award nominations earlier in the week.
Those were the big stories at a domestic box office, which was down only 16 percent last weekend…which was pretty good news, considering it had been down, like, 30 percent all through late-December and early-to-mid-January.
The No. 1 spot belonged to Warner Bros.' The Rite, which stars Hopkins as a priest specializing in exorcism.
Movies about demon-removal pros tend to do well at the box office -- just look at Lionsgate's The Last Excorcism last summer, which was a $1.8 million movie (cheap as theatrical product gets) that took in $66.5 million.
Projected by some box-office watchers to take in $20 million, The Rite didn't do nearly that well, grossing $15 million for the weekend.
Meanwhile, moviegoers reacted lukewarm to the $40 million film, with customer-satisfaction survey firm Cinemascore giving it a B grade -- which is the mediocrity equivalent of a C in school.
For its part, CBS Films didn't have nearly as much on the line with The Mechanic, after picking up U.S. distribution rights to the Charles Bronson-movie remake from Millennium Films for around $4 million (again, cheap by theatrical movie standards).
With Jason Statham playing the hit man made famous by Bronson in 1972, and Ben Foster playing his duplicitous sidekick (originally played by Jan-Michael Vincent before he climbed into a bottle in Malibu), The Mechanic grossed a solid $11.5 million.
CBS Films execs -- who totally sandbagged the movie press, telling everybody it was going to do, like, no more than $8 million -- were pleased on Sunday morning, let's just put it that way.
Also happy were the folks at The Weinstein Company, who watched their chatty British period drama The King's Speech garner 12 Academy Award nominations earlier in the week before grossing a solid $11.1 million this weekend.
Meanwhile, one other film of note opened this weekend, with Lionsgate and Televisa partnering to launch the first film from their new Latin-genre label, Pantelion Films.
From Prada to Nada -- a low-budget comedy ($3.5 million) with an even lower prints and advertising cost – grossed $1.1 million playing at 256 theaters this weekend.
The movie is kind an of an experiment for its studio backers, who are looking for a Latino audience (it was 71 percent) that's predominantly female (also mission accomplished at 71 percent) and very young –- a latter benchmark that was sort of missed, since the movie drew predominantly moviegoers older than 20.
"We'll keep working on it," said one Lionsgate executive.
In any event, here's how the top movies did this weekend compared to our Thursday predictions:
|The Rite ||Made: $15.0M ||We predicted: $16.0M |
|No Strings Attached ||Made: $13.7M || We predicted: $12.0M|
| The Mechanic ||Made: $11.5M ||We predicted: $8.5M|
| The Green Hornet ||Made: $11.5M ||We predicted: $10.5M|
| The King’s Speech ||Made: $11.1M ||We predicted: $11.0M|
| True Grit ||Made: $7.6M ||We predicted: $7.5M|
| The Dilemma ||Made: $5.6M ||We predicted: $5.5M|
| Black Swan ||Made: $5.1M ||We predicted: $6.0M|
| The Fighter ||Made: $4.1M ||We predicted: $4.5M|
| Yogi Bear ||Made: $3.2M ||We predicted: $2.5M|