$20.3 Mil 'No Strings Attached' Debuts Atop Weekend Box Office

Dale Robinette
No Strings Attached

'Green Hornet' lands at No. 2 with $18 mil in its second weekend; No. 4 'King's Speech' neared a dazzling domestic cume of $60 million.

Paramount’s Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher R-rated romantic comedy No Strings Attached topped the weekend box office with a solid $20.3 million start from 3,018 theaters, while The King’s Speech neared a dazzling domestic cume of $60 million for a victorious Weinstein Co.

Portman is the darling of the box office, with Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan still doing strong business and coming in No. 6 for the weekend. In its first major launch overseas, Swan debuted to a stellar $10.9 million in nine markets, pushing the film’s worldwide cume to $94.5 million. It should jump $100 million by next weekend.
Overall, domestic theater revenues continued to trail the past three years. Decline is attributed to the lack of a breakout popcorn pic, as well as a slowdown in the number of major studio releases.
Sony’s 3D The Green Hornet came in No. 2 in its second weekend, declining a respectable 46% to an estimated $18.1 million from 3,584 theaters for a domestic cume of $63.4 million, according to Rentrak.
Hornet jumped the $100 million worldwide, with a global cume of $100.8 through Sunday. However, it has performed more modestly than expected overseas.
Universal’s Vince Vaughn/Kevin James comedy The Dilemma came in No. 3 domestically, declining 45% to an estimated $9.7 million from 2,943 locations for a tepid cume of $33.4 million in its first 10 days. Ron Howard directed.
No Strings Attached proved a strong return for Ivan Reitman in the director’s chair. The $20.3 million opening came in on the higher end of expectations and beat the debuts of R-rated comedies I Love You, Man ($17.8 million) and Forgetting Sarah Marshall ($17.7 million).
No Strings Attached — about the perils of casual sex -- was fueled by women, who made up 70% of the audience. Film played slightly older than expected, with 60% of those buying tickets over the age of 25, although Paramount said many of the females were between the ages of 20 and 30. 
Movie (originally titled Fuckbuddies) received a B CinemaScore overall. But those under the age of 25 gave it an A-, portending good word-of-mouth among younger moviegoers.
“This is a great opening, and I hope it encourages Ivan (who has been focusing more on producing) to direct more movies,” said Paramount exec VP of domestic distribution Don Harris.
No Strings Attached is already on solid financial footing, having cost $25 million to produce. Paramount, Spyglass and Reitman’s Cold Spring Pictures co-financed.
King’s Speech placed No. 4 for the weekend, grossing an estimated $9.2 million from 1,680 theaters for a cume of $58.6 million, surpassing the lifetime domestic gross of British historical drama The Queen ($56.4 million).
Colin Firth’s Golden Globe win a week ago for best actor likely boosted King’s Speech’s profile even further. On Saturday, King’s Speech scored a surprise upset over The Social Network in winning the top award from the Producers Guild of America.
Many U.S. distributors are leery about foreign historical dramas. King’s Speech has defied all the odds in its performance, and Oscar nominations haven’t been announced. It’s possible King’s Speech could do upwards of $95 million in the U.S., putting it on par with Social Network.
“Looking at the numbers. They are a clear reflection of incredible word-of-mouth and people’s desire to see an uplifting movie with a positive message. It’s such a great ensemble cast,” the Weinstein Co.’s David Glasser said.
According to exit polls conducted two weeks ago, 73% of King’s audience was over the age of 35. But box office observers say the aud is now broadening out.
“If my 19-year-old son, who is more geared towards Avatar and Transformers, loved it, you know you have something out of the ordinary,” one rival studio executive said.
King’s Speech will boost its theater count to more than 2,000 on Friday, timed to Tuesday’s Oscar nominations.
Overseas, King’s Speech is doing gangbuster business in the U.K., where Momentum is distributing. Film’s cume is north of $26.2 million, well ahead of such titles as The Queen ($14.2 million) and Atonement ($18.5 million). It’s also pacing ahead of Sherlock Holmes, which had grossed $21.8 million at the same point in its run.
Paramount and partner Transmission are releasing King’s Speech in Australia and New Zealand, where it has grossed a total of $15.3 million.
Back at the domestic box office, Paramount and Skydance Prods.’s Western hit True Grit came in No. 5, grossing an estimated $8 million for a cume of $138.6 million. 
Placing No. 6, Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan grossed an estimated $6.2 million from 2,407 theaters for a total $83.6 million. 
As with Firth and King’s Speech, Portman’s Globe win for Swan likely helped the pic at the box office. King’s Speech had no decline over the previous weekend, while Swan dipped a narrow 26%.
Paramount and Relativity Media’s Globe winner The Fighter was also helped from its Globe wins, dipping only 10% from the previous weekend to place No. 7. Film grossed an estimated $4.5 million from 2,275 theaters for a cume of $73 million.
Among limited openers, Peter Weir’s World War II drama The Way Back bowed to a soft $1.5 million from 650 runs. Wrekin Hill Entertainment and Newmarket are jointly distributing the film, which stars Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess and Ed Harris.
After a brief awards qualifying run last month, John Wells’ feature directorial debut The Company Men officially opened, grossing an estimated $767,328 from 106 theaters for a location average of $7,239 and cume of $810,328. Corporate downsizing drama stars Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner and Chris Cooper
Company Men, distributed by the Weinstein Co., scored the second-best theater average of the weekend after Sony Pictures Classics’ Barney’s Version, which earned Paul Giamatti a Globe.
Barney’s grossed an estimated $106,840 as it expanded to 16 screens for a theater average of $10,053 and cume of $303,043.