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Box Office Preview: Hopkins has 'The Rite' stuff

Associated Press Modified: January 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm •  Published: January 27, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Having played one of the most famous movie villains of all time, Anthony Hopkins takes up priestly duties in Warner Bros.' "The Rite" on over 3,000 screens this weekend and will likely exorcise between $16 million to $18 million from audiences.

A huge marketing push for the PG-13 rated horror-thriller should help. Also, January tends to be a fairly frightful month at theaters, with scary films now a staple of the time frame. Last year, there was "Legion" and "Daybreakers," while 2009 included "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" and the "The Unborn" — all with opening weekends in the $15 million to $20 million range.

After grabbing 12 Academy Award nominations on Tuesday, The Weinstein Co.'s "The King's Speech" is perfectly primed for a so-called Oscar bump and a chance to achieve its highest chart position yet with the addition of 873 theaters. Look for the "King's" weekend ransom to be around $10 million, with a $70 million domestic total by Sunday night.

Of course, George VI will have to avoid a royal butt-kicking by ever-present man of mayhem Jason Statham in the remake of the 1972 classic action film "The Mechanic." In this CBS Films release, Ben Foster (Russell Crowe's gun-slinging sidekick in "3:10 to Yuma") brings his particular brand of psychotic intensity to the role of a junior hit man, making it tailor-made for the young males who love this type of buddy action yarn. As with "King's," the R-rated film should be on target for a gross of about $10 million.

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