The Rite and The Mechanic box office: Two critically dismissed thrillers – one horror, one action – are the year’s most recent flops
Jan. 28–30 weekend box office: January 2011 isn’t quite over yet, but we’ve already got no less than seven sizable domestic commercial duds. The latest two are Warner Bros.’ Mikael Hafstrom-directed horror thriller The Rite, starring Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991) and Colin O’Donoghue, and CBS Films’ Simon West-directed action thriller The Mechanic, starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster.
The critically lambasted (supposedly real-life based) tale of an exorcism apprentice whose skepticism dwindles after he comes face to face with seemingly supernatural forces, The Rite was the no. 1 movie on the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart – but with a mere $14.8 million from 2,985 theaters (averaging a middling $4,954 per venue) according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
Although not all that horrific for a production that cost a reported $37 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses), there’s little chance The Rite will succeed in matching its budget in the domestic market, let alone recoup it.
Unsurprising Jason Statham debut
Trailing both The Rite and last weekend’s champ, No Strings Attached (see further below), the unenthusiastically received The Mechanic debuted at no. 3 with $11.4 million from 2,703 locations (average: $4,225).
That should come as no surprise, for The Mechanic fared about as well – or rather, as weakly – as several other relatively recent Jason Statham-centered action flicks – e.g., Transporter 3 (opening-weekend gross: $12.1 million in 2008), Death Race ($12.6 million in 2008), and Crank ($10.5 million in 2006; its sequel, Crank: High Voltage, debuted with a paltry $7 million in 2009).
Revolving around a professional assassin who is an expert at making his murders look like anything but, The Mechanic had a reported $40 million production budget.
The Rite & The Mechanic cast
Besides Anthony Hopkins as a veteran exorcist and Colin O’Donoghue as his trainee, The Rite also features Alice Braga, Ciarán Hinds, Marta Gastini, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, and veteran Rutger Hauer (Turkish Delight, Blade Runner).
Besides Jason Statham as a professional assassin and Ben Foster as his trainee, The Mechanic also features Tony Goldwyn, James Logan, Mini Andén, Jeff Chase, Christa Campbell, and veteran Donald Sutherland (MASH, Ordinary People).
It should be noted that The Mechanic is a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson star vehicle of the same name, directed by Michael Winner and costarring Jan-Michael Vincent.
International moviegoers provide some solace to exorcists and hitmen
Update: Anthony Hopkins and Colin O’Donogue’s The Rite ultimately collected an ungodly $33 million domestically and a far holier $63.5 million internationally. Worldwide total: $96.5 million – not a bad figure, but not enough for the horror thriller to break even.
Its top international markets – perhaps a coincidence, but all Catholic-majority countries – were Mexico ($11.4 million), France ($7.3 million), Italy ($5.1 million), Spain ($4.5 million), and Brazil ($4 million).
Jason Statham’s The Mechanic ultimately collected a wobbly $29.1 million domestically and a still-unimpressive $47 million internationally. Worldwide total: $76.1 million – hardly enough for the actioner to break even.
Its top international markets were China (with a surprisingly strong $14.1 million), Russia/CIS ($8.2 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($3.9 million), Germany ($2.5 million), and Spain ($2.4 million).
Top Five movies: Stuttering king gets Oscar boost
Also among the Top Five on this past weekend’s domestic box office chart were:
- At no. 2, Ivan Reitman’s romantic comedy No Strings Attached grossed $13.4 million (down 32 percent on its second weekend). Cume: $39.5 million. Cast: Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.
- At no. 4, Michel Gondry’s superhero actioner The Green Hornet grossed $11.2 million (down 37 percent on its third weekend). Cume: $78.5 million. Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, and Cameron Diaz.
- At no. 5, Tom Hooper’s real-life-inspired drama The King’s Speech grossed $11.1 million (boosted by its 12 Oscar nominations and the addition of 877 theaters, up 41 percent on its tenth weekend). Cume: $72.2 million. Cast: Oscar nominees Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter.
”The Rite + The Mechanic Box Office” notes
Year’s five previous commercial flops
 This year’s other five notable flops are The Green Hornet (see further up); Ron Howard’s critically derided comedy The Dilemma, featuring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James; John Wells’ business-world drama The Company Men, featuring Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones; Peter Weir’s “inspirational” adventure drama The Way Back, featuring Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, and Saoirse Ronan; and Dominic Sena’s supernatural adventure Season of the Witch, featuring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman.
Note: Both The Company Men and The Way Back had brief Oscar-qualifying runs in Los Angeles in late 2010.
”The Rite + The Mechanic Box Office” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “The Rite + The Mechanic Box Office: Exorcists & Hitmen in Year’s 2 Latest Duds” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about The Rite, The Mechanic, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Colin O’Donoghue The Rite movie image: Warner Bros.
Jason Statham and Ben Foster The Mechanic movie image: CBS Films.
“The Rite + The Mechanic Box Office: Exorcists & Hitmen in Year’s 2 Latest Duds” last updated in November 2022.