Ashton Kutcher Can Only Be Defeated by Anthony HopkinsS

In terms of acting legends going toe-to-toe, this was a battle to end all battles. In the end, Anthony Hopkins squeaked out a victory. Meanwhile, The King's Speech is enjoying more of a clear victory, heading toward mega-hit status.

1) The Rite — $15M
So it's kind of hard to be funny about Anthony Hopkins. One could despair about him spending the remains of his days, as he heads toward the shadow lands of eternity, wading through movies like this one, which doesn't look much better than whatever just came out of a dog named Howard's end, etc. One could do that. But then it stops there. I mean, I doubt if there's a fava beans and Chianti joke in all of Christendom that hasn't been made already. I dare you to figure out how some World's Fastest Indian joke might be related to this movie. So let's just say that this movie was in bad company this weekend, and that the first quarter of 2011 is on the edge of becoming a box office mess. Hopefully by the time summer is through, the industry will be back on the road to Wellville, just in time for the legends of the fall to dazzle us with their awards movies.

2) No Strings Attached — $13.6M
Well, it appears that no one listened to me last week. Did I not urge you all to stop seeing Ashton Kutcher films? I'm pretty sure I did. I don't care how much you like Natalie Portman or that in the end this movie was "surprisingly clever" or whatever. The fact of the matter remains that Ashton Kutcher is in this movie and therefore it must be burned and buried, the ground around it salted so that nothing may grow in that cursed place. And don't tell me it's because there wasn't much else in the theaters this weekend. I'd imagine that most of you, like me, have to do some Oscar movie catchup. Drag yourself to see The King's Speech, root out that one theater where they're playing Winter's Bone. You only have a few weeks left! And you're wasting them seeing Ashton Kutcher movies. Why, I bet some of you didn't even watch the SAGs last night. You were too busy shoveling popcorn in your mouth and giggle-sighing at No Strings Attached. (A movie that, of course, is to be watched from the shameful privacy of your house some hungover Sunday, because Pay Per View money doesn't seem like real money. This was done with Knight and Day, and it will be done with this. Duh.) It's just disgraceful.

3) The Mechanic — $11.5M
They did it! They fixed the problems. Just like the poster said they would. Or it said one of them would. The poster said "Someone has to fix the problems." I'm guessing that person is Jason Statham, rather than Ben Foster. I mean, I'm sure Ben Foster helped fix the problems, but he is likely not the chief "someone" mentioned on the poster. Do you agree? I think it's likely. I like the directness of that tagline. The next Fast & the Furious movie's line should be "Someone has to drive the cars." Or for The Dark Knight Rises: "Someone has to be Batman." Someone does! It's very true.

5) The King's Speech — $11.1M
This movie's doing crazy business! Experiencing a nice Oscar nominations bump, the movie rose about 40% in ticket sales from last week. To put it in perspective, this movie has made nearly twice as much as Gulliver's Travels (#20, $725k), and that movie cost about eight times as much to make. I suppose the whole "being good" thing really can make the difference sometimes. I know it's a bold new strategy, but if people endeavored to make more good movies, rather than ones that just threw expensive special effects shots at holes in the script hoping no one notices, then maybe people would go see those movies. Not always, of course! Sometimes there is no accounting for taste at all. But in general, I think it's not a bad rule. Like, maybe don't make a Clash of the Titans sequel? Just maybe? At least consider making a King's Speech sequel first. "Someone has to do the speaking." It's true!

17) From Prada to Nada — $1.1M
It would be easy to joke that this film skipped the Prada and went right to nada, but a closer look at the numbers shows that this movie had about the fifth-highest per-screen average of the week. (Highest goes to Gregg Araki's Kaboom, which opened on one screen with $13,700.) So that's not bad for this little fable-type movie. "Someone has to do the nada." Yup. No denying that. I'm looking forward From Jimmy Choo to Timbuktu, about a fashion obsessed girl who ends up forced to join the Merchant Marines and learns lessons about herself. But more importantly she meets a boy. "Someone has to meet the boy." Mmhm!