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‘No Strings Attached’ Reverses Recent Row Of Rom-Com Flop Openers: Possible $20.3M

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
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‘Green Hornet 3D’ Tops MLK Long Weekend With $40.5M; ‘Dilemma’ Disastrous $20.6M

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: This was a tough weekend at the box office for one new major studio tentpole opening on a long Martin Luther King weekend but not for another which met the lower end of expectations. The 4-day holiday overall is looking -25% down from last year’s:

1. The Green Hornet 3D (Sony Pictures) NEW [3,584 Theaters]
Friday $11.1M, Saturday $12.7M
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $34M, Estimated 4-Day Holiday $40.5M

Saturday’s take was up +15% from Friday’s, which relieved Sony fears tonight. It seemed a miracle that this much bad-buzzed big movie that’s a modern adaptation of the old radio series about the legendary action duo – Britt Reid (with the unorthodox casting of Seth Rogen) and his resourceful Kato (with Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou) not to mention their coolly equipped The Black Beauty – was tracking very well for weeks now. But then rival studios emailed me Friday that The Green Hornet was surprisingly underperforming. Sony execs disagreed. They said things could have been worse at the box office Friday but the West Coast was “pushing it way up” with late shows. And just as they predicted, Saturday’s number jumped. Friday’s post midnight screenings were light — $550K on 700 plays — because Sony didn’t push them. Meanwhile, The Green Hornet earned a “B+” CinemaScore overall but an ”A-” among audience members under age 25. The audience skewed male (61%) vs female (39%) and age was evenly split over and under 25 (50%).

The debut is the 2nd highest opening ever for a film ever released during the 4-day holiday weekend in January and the … Read More »

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Health Of Adult Comedy Genre To Be Tested By ‘The Dilemma’

Mike Fleming

Over the past two years, Universal Pictures learned some hard lessons about adult dramas when high-priced films State of Play, Robin Hood, Duplicity and Green Zone failed to catch on with domestic audiences. This weekend, the studio will deliver some clarity on the immediate future of the adult comedy, when Universal opens The Dilemma, the Ron Howard-directed buddy comedy pairing Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. The film goes up against The Green Hornet, a 3D picture whose horrible Comic-Con buzz has turned been turned around by Sony Pictures Entertainment, which smartly moved the film out of the holiday corridor and repackaged it from a Seth Rogen pseudo-superhero film into a two-hander buddy comedy that happens to be about a superhero.

Insiders at Universal still like their chances with The Dilemma, which despite its PG-13 rating is chasing an adult audience. In Universal’s favor: James has become a comic star, and Vaughn has delivered in adult comedies Wedding Crashers, The Break-Up and Couples Retreat, all of which turned in domestic gross north of $100 million (a number that would make The Dilemma a win). The studio is also bullish because The Dilemma came in at around a $70 million budget, with a gross outlay somewhere in the 20% range. That gives The Dilemma a chance that Jim Brooks’ How Do You Know didn’t have, because its budget was just too high, at a reported $120 million. Brooks’ film opened at $7.5 million. … Read More »

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Vince Vaughn Comments On Gay ‘Dilemma’

By | Thursday October 14, 2010 @ 3:01pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures pulled the “gay” joke out of the trailer for the Ron Howard directed comedy The Dilemma. While the studio hasn’t declared whether it will pull the line out of the movie under pressure from GLAAD, the film’s star, Vince Vaughn, has weighed in with a comment that indicates he’d like the joke to stay. Said Vaughn: “Let me add my voice of support to the people outraged by the bullying and persecution of people for their differences, whatever those differences may be. Comedy and joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together. Drawing dividing lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us. Most importantly, where does it stop.”

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GLAAD Won’t Let Universal Off The Hook

Timed to National Coming Out Day, GLAAD is calling on Universal Pictures to remove that “gay” insult scene from the Ron Howard-Vince Vaughn movie The Dilemma. The studio already redid its trailer  because of pressure from the lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender community as well as from CNN host Anderson Cooper. But GLAAD is now complaining that Universal will “neither confirm or deny that the joke will be in the final film, in spite of the rise in attention to anti-gay violence and teen suicides that have occurred as a result of anti-gay bullying.” So GLAAD has just released a Call to Action via an online petition urging Universal to pull the joke from the film. ”When ‘gay’ is used as a pejorative in such a public way for millions to see and laugh with, it legitimizes and propels the many taunts that gay people endure,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Amidst a rash of bullying related suicides and anti-gay hate crimes, we need to tell Universal and America that our community is tired of being used as a punch line.”

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New Universal Trailer For ‘The Dilemma’

By | Saturday October 9, 2010 @ 11:37am PDT

Universal Pressured Into Changing “Gay” Trailer For Ron Howard-Vince Vaughn Pic After GLAAD And Anderson Cooper Critical Of It

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Universal Pressured Into Changing “Gay” Trailer For Ron Howard-Vince Vaughn Pic: GLAAD And Anderson Cooper Critical Of It

3RD UPDATE: View The Dilemma‘s new trailer here.

2ND UPDATE 10:40 AM: In Hollywood, so the saying goes, you can know that someone is lying because their lips are moving. Universal has now told me twice this morning that it sent an advance copy of the trailer for director Ron Howard’s Vince Vaughn-starring comedy The Dilemma to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against  Defamation for vetting, claiming the organization didn’t object to it. But GLAAD just issued a news release strenuously disputing that:

“Last month, Universal shared a link to the trailer for the film The Dilemma with GLAAD. After reviewing, GLAAD called on Universal to remove the scene where the word ‘gay’ was used as a pejorative from the trailer. Today, after Anderson Cooper also spoke out against the scene, Universal confirmed to GLAAD that the offensive joke will be removed from promotional campaigns from this point forward, including in the trailer currently playing in movie theatres.

“The use of the word ‘gay’ in this trailer as a slur is unnecessary and does nothing more than send a message of intolerance about our community to viewers,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios.”

Universal, however, told me it sent the trailer to GLAAD ”before it ever went anywhere and there was no comment about it at all”. But GLAAD counters that it did not support or give a positive response to the trailer. ”We’ve been working with Universal for some time to get them to remove it.” When the trailer debuted three weeks ago, complaints immediately came in to the studio and its marketing department. But Universal claims that’s when it called GLAAD again to “double check” there were no objections. The studio tells me that “only then did GLAAD say, ’This is probably questionable. It’s not a major offense at all. But it’s best not to use it in the campaign so it avoids any questions.’” Hmm. Given how long ago the trailer began airing, it does seem that Universal decided to remove it and substitute a new one later only because of Anderson Cooper’s televised complaint this week (see below).

UPDATE 10:30 AM: Universal just issued this statement in response to my story: “The teaser trailer for The Dilemma was not intended to cause anyone discomfort. In light of growing claims that the introduction to the trailer is insensitive, it is being replaced. A full trailer, which has been in the works for some time, will post online later today.”

EXCLUSIVE 8:45 AM: Universal has a dilemma on The Dilemma. The studio recently debuted the first official trailer for its forthcoming Imagine comedy starring Vince Vaughn and directed by Ron Howard, and the reaction in Hollywood was dismay and disappointment. Not because it looks like a stinker. But because it uses the term “gay” as an insult right in the first scene. “Ladies and Gentlemen, electric cars are so gay,” Vaughn’s character tells a packed conference room to indicate his ridicule. Immediately after Deadline posted the trailer (removed today by Universal), Industry insiders took to the comments section for a heated discussion over the appropriateness of showcasing this scene much less including it in the movie at all. Now outsiders like CNN’s Anderson Cooper (see below) are disapproving of it as well. Until now, Universal hasn’t made any change to the trailer. But I’ve just learned the studio finally is responding to the pressure and planning to alter it. However, studio executives still appear bewildered by the situation “because we showed the trailer to gay groups like GLAAD and gay executives here and gays in our marketing department and no one was offended and everyone had a positive response,” a Uni insider claims to me. However, on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show this week, CNN host Anderson Cooper was interviewed by satellite on the subject of school bullying, and he brought up the Dilemma trailer and criticized it: Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Ron Howard’s ‘The Dilemma’

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