SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Rentrak is having system issues so box office will be a bit late today. But Paramount was so worried about its No Strings Attached being a stinker that the studio didn’t even bother to give me a pre-release briefing. I don’t necessarily blame them: any movie starring Ashton Kutcher is probably a bomb since his last one — PG-13 Killers with Katherine Heigl — opened to only $15.8M for Lionsgate. And rom-coms, especially sexy R-rated ones (Ed Zwick’s Love And Other Drugs which opened to only $9.7M for Fox with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal) have been stillborn at the North American box office with this caliber of star. But No Strings Attached surprised at the box office, not only coming in No. 1 but with a decent $20.3M. Exit polls showed 70% of the audience was female, meaning it should be the least affected by football on Sunday. As for CinemaScore,  40% of those aged under 25 gave the film an “A-” while 60% over 25 scored it a “B”. 

This $25 million-cost movie started out as a Black List script titled Fuckbuddies and written by Elizabeth Merriwether. Natalie Portman came on board as a producer and star for Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock’s The Montecito Picture Company, which co-financed in partnership with Coldspring and Paramount’s usual partner Spyglass Entertainment.

Natalie is hot after her Oscar-worthy transformative performance in Black Swan and now finds herself with 2 movies in this weekend’s Top 6. And perhaps risking overexposure because of her new pics opening in January, February, April, and May. Anyway, the pic took advantage of being the only wide opening this weekend and may hang on for $20M. (Remember, it took Ron Howard’s Dilemma starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James 4 days to even make that over the MLK long holiday.) The film had been tracking strong with 20-year-old females whom Paramount pursued aggresively not with traditional newspaper ads but instead with a big Facebook push of a sexy Red Band trailer. Meanwhile, Sony’s The Green Hornet 3D and Universal’s aforementioned Dilemma look to drop more than -35% each this weekend. Here’s the Top 10:

1. No Strings Attached (Paramount) NEW [3,018 Theaters]
Friday $7.3M, Saturday $8.2M, Weekend $20.3M

2. The Green Hornet 3D (Sony) Week 2 [3,584 Theaters]
Friday $5.1M, Saturday $8.7M, Weekend $18.1M (-31%), Cume $63.4M

3. The Dilemma (Universal) Week 2 [2,943 Theaters]
Friday $3M, Saturday $4.5M, Weekend $9.9M (-33%), Cume $33.5M

4. The King’s Speech (Weinstein Co) Week 9 [1,680 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $9.1M, Cume $58.6M

5. True Grit (Paramount) Week 5 [3,464 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.8M, Weekend $7.9M, Cume $138.5M

6. Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) Week 8 [2,407 Theaters]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $6.2M, Cume $83.5M

7. Little Fockers (Universal) Week 5 [2,979 Theaters]
Friday $1.2M, Saturday $2.2M, Weekend $4.7M, Cume $141.4M

8. The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) Week 6 [2,275 Theaters]
Friday $1.2M, Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $4.6M, Cume $73.1M

9. Yogi Bear 3D (Warner Bros) Week 6 [2,510 Theaters]
Friday $740K, Saturday $2M, Weekend $3.8M, Cume $88.6M

9. Tron: The Legacy 3D (Disney) Week 7 [2,018 Theaters]
Friday $930K, Saturday $1.8M, Weekend $3.7M, Cume $163.3M

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.

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