‘Mechanic’ under CBS’ 2011 hood

Pic joins 'Beastly' on studio's thin sked

CBS Films has added Jason Statham starrer “The Mechanic” to its 2011 slate, dating the pic for release on Jan. 28.

“Mechanic,” a retooling of the 1972 Charles Bronson action thriller, reps a much-needed addition for the studio, as the Vanessa Hudgens starrer “Beastly,” set for March 18, is the studio’s only other release dated for 2011.

“Beastly” was originally skedded for July 30, but the studio pushed it back to next year to avoid competing with Universal’s similarly femme-targeted “Charlie St. Cloud.” In turn, the move left “Faster,” set to launch on Nov. 24, as CBS Films’ only remaining 2010 pic.

Directed by Simon West, “Mechanic” tells the story of an elite hitman (Statham), who educates a younger apprentice, played by Ben Foster, about his trade. The apprentice, however, has connections to one of Statham’s previous victims.

“Mechanic,” which co-stars Donald Sutherland, could mark a considerable kickoff for the studio next year, playing best to male auds a week before the Super Bowl. CBS Films, which acquired the pic from Millennium Films, said it hopes to benefit from TV spots leading up to the pigskin event, which airs Feb. 6.

CBS Films has gotten off to a slow start since launching in 2007, with just moderate B.O. players “Extraordinary Measures” and “The Back-Up Plan” under its belt so far. “Extraordinary,” which bowed Jan. 22, has earned $12.5 million domestically, while U.S. totals for “Back-Up” have reached $37.5 million since its debut on April 23.

“Mechanic” is produced by Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff, David Winkler and William Chartoff.

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