"The Rite" leads Oscar-fueled box office

LOS ANGELES Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:20pm EST

Anthony Hopkins poses at the premiere of his new film ''The Rite'' in Hollywood, California January 26, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Anthony Hopkins poses at the premiere of his new film ''The Rite'' in Hollywood, California January 26, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Anthony Hopkins led the North American box office on Sunday with the exorcism thriller "The Rite," while newly minted Oscar nominees such as front-runner "The King's Speech" enjoyed a boost in business.

"The Rite" sold about $15 million worth of tickets in the three days since it opened across the United States and Canada on Friday, distributor Warner Bros. said.

Even though critics lambasted the movie, the opening was within the Time Warner Inc unit's expectations. The film cost about $40 million to make.

Also new was a remake of the assassination thriller "The Mechanic," starring English action hero Jason Statham, which tied at No. 3 with former box office champion "The Green Hornet," each reporting about $11.5 million.

Last weekend's champ, the Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy "No Strings Attached," slipped to No. 2 with $13.7 million, taking its 10-day total to $39.7 million.

"The King's Speech," which received 12 Oscar nominations on Tuesday, saw a 41 percent boost in business from last weekend, grossing $11.1 million. But with two new releases ahead of it, the royals drama slipped one place to No. 5.

Among other Oscar nominees in the top 10, "True Grit" (10 nominations) fell one place to No. 6 with $7.6 million, a 4 percent increase from last weekend; "Black Swan" (five nominations) dropped two spots to No. 8 with $5.1 million, off 13 percent; and "The Fighter" (seven nominations) slipped one place to No. 9 with $4.1 million, up 3 percent.

"The Mechanic" was released by CBS Films, a unit of CBS Corp. "The Green Hornet" was released by Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp.

"No Strings Attached," "True Grit" and "The Fighter" were released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.

"The King's Speech" was released by the Weinstein Co, which is privately held.

"Black Swan" was released by Fox Searchlight, a unit of News Corp.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Eric Beech)

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