The Rite
Credit: Egon Endrenyi

Some may say October is the scariest time of the year, but for moviegoers it’s really January. The first month is a spooky graveyard where badly reviewed movies can rise from the dead, hungry for brains and dollars. This week sees the release of two newcomers, The Rite and The Mechanic, both of which will do battle with last weeks’ Nos. 1 and 2, No Strings Attached and The Green Hornet. On the higher-quality end of the spectrum, Academy Award nominations were announced this week, which may drive some crowds to more prestige-y options, but for the most part, it will likely be a battle between these four flicks. Here’s what my Magic Movie 8-Ball says:

1. The Rite: $18 million

It might not be getting the absolute best reviews out there, but that probably won’t be a problem for this post-Exorcist possession film. Past January horror features like Hide and Seek and My Bloody Valentine 3D have opened to over $20 million. The Anthony Hopkins-starrer probably won’t reach those levels, but it’s been a while since audiences have gotten their scare on and the power of Christ may compel them to fill the seats of the over 2,900 theaters showing it.

2. No Strings Attached: $12 million

The friends-with-benefits comedy that isn’t Friends With Benefits pulled in a healthy $19.7 million last weekend, and with The Dilemma not holding up so well, the date movie probably won’t experience too precipitous a drop in its second week.

3. The Mechanic: $9 million

People going into a Jason Statham movie pretty much know what they’re going to get — guns, kicks to the face and/or stomach, and quips with an accent. While Statham’s last effort opened to $34.8 million, that last effort was The Expendables and also starred basically every other action star on the face of the planet. The more likely comparisons would be Crank: High Voltage and Transporter 3, which opened to about $7 million and $12 million, respectively. So let’s split the difference.

4. The Green Hornet: $8.5 million

The superhero action-comedy that defied expectations will probably take a pretty significant hit with The Mechanic stealing away some of its male viewership. And while The Green Hornet stung in its first two weeks and pulled in more green than what extremely low expectations said it would, the Seth Rogen film will likely see an over 50 percent slip this week.

5. The King’s Speech: $8 million

Expect the Oscar bump to start showing for Colin Firth’s stuttering monarch. The fact that the Weinstein Company production snagged the most nominations and is now the film to beat will likely translate to pretty good numbers for a historical drama in its fifth week of wide release. Black Swan and True Grit will also likely continue to do well, thanks to a glint of gold lent from the Academy.

Also being released this weekend is Biutiful, which should benefit from a high-profile Best Actor nomination for star Javier Bardem despite being in only 57 theaters, and the Jane Austen-by-way-of-Los Angeles comedy From Prada to Nada. Danny Boyle’s claustrophobic 127 Hours will be getting a bit more room to move, finally expanding wide.