By Keith Staskiewicz
January 30, 2011 at 07:49 PM EST

Anthony Hopkins’ The Rite pulled in some scary numbers, but nothing truly terrifying, taking the weekend with $15 million. In fact, it’s less than half what Hopkins’ previous first-quarter horror film, last year’s The Wolfman, saw in its first weekend. And that movie only barely made it into second place in a crowded February frame that also included Valentine’s Day and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. As if we needed more evidence that, so far, 2011 has been a lean year for Hollywood. Hopefully the box office will thaw out once the ground does.

Despite some critical drumming, The Rite managed a Cinemascore grade of B from moviegoers, with the audience split right down the middle between men and women. The next few spots were a little more gender-specific: The female-targeted No Strings Attached grabbed a tad under $13.7 million to place second, while the testosterone-heavy Jason Statham actioner, The Mechanic, charged $11.5 million for parts and labor. That’s significantly better than CBS Films’ expectations of $7-$9 million and nearly as good an opening as the last entry in Statham’s Transporter franchise. But to keep perspective, that’s still only enough to tie with The Green Hornet in its third week out. A lack of strong new options ensured that both of last week’s top movies slipped less than 40 percent.

The promise of little gold bald men was enough to pump up attendance for The King’s Speech, which expanded into a total of 2,557 theaters. Its 12 Academy Award noms came just short of translating into as many millions of dollars, but the $11.1 million it did take was enough to land it fifth place and bring its cume up to $72.2 million. Fellow Oscar hopefuls True Grit, Black Swan, and The Fighter all benefited from a nomination bump and found a place in the second half of the Top 10, with Black Swan inching ever closer to crossing the $100 million mark. In limited release, From Prada to Nada ended up with $1.1 million while Javier Bardem’s ironically titled depress-o-thon Biutiful secured $623,000 in only 57 theaters for an impressive $8,088 per-screen average. Expect The Rite to take a hit next week with the release of two new thrillers, the underwater-spelunking Sanctum and the crazy-obsessing The Roommate.

1. The Rite — $15 mil

2. No Strings Attached — $13.7 mil

3. The Mechanic — $11.5 mil

*  The Green Hornet — $11.5 mil

5. The King’s Speech — $11.1 mil

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