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Box office: 'No Strings Attached' gets some love in theaters [Updated]

January 23, 2011 |  9:22 am

NoStrings "No Strings Attached," the sole new movie to open nationwide this weekend, found the audience it was looking for at the box office.

The Ashton Kutcher-Natalie Portman romantic comedy opened to a solid $20.3 million, according to studio estimates, making it the most popular film in the country on a slow moviegoing weekend.

It was a good start given that the R-rated movie cost distributor Paramount Pictures and its partner Spyglass Entertainment and Cold Spring Pictures only about $25 million to make.

As expected, given its stars and subject matter -- the picture is about about a young couple attempting to have a physical relationship without an emotional one -- the audience was overwhelmingly female. Responses were mixed by age, as those younger than 25 gave the movie an A-, and those over 25 gave it a B, according to market-research firm CinemaScore.

Last weekend's two new movies both saw typical drops, indicating that word-of-mouth is neither good enough to make the surprise hits nor bad enough to make them sink quickly. Receipts for the Seth Rogen action-comedy "The Green Hornet" declined 46% to $18.1 million, bringing its box-office total to a pretty good $63.4 million. The Kevin James-Vince Vaughn adult comedy "The Dilemma" dropped 45% to $9.7 million for a soft but not terrible $33.4-million total.

"The King's Speech" demonstrated that it continued to be the hot indie drama of the moment as ticket sales didn't decline at all from the previous weekend, remaining at $9.2 million, a sign of extraordinary  word-of-mouth. Even accounting for the 137 new theaters the Weinstein Co. added to the run of the historical drama, ticket sales at existing locations were down only 9%. Its domestic box-office total is now a strong $58.6 million.

Ticket sales for "Black Swan," the other popular indie movie of the last couple of months, declined a modest 26% to $6.2 million. The Natalie Portman psychological drama has racked up a box-office total of $83.6 million.

[Update, 11:31 a.m.: The Mark Wahlberg boxing drama "The Fighter" also had a very strong hold, dropping only 11% to $4.5 million and increasing its total domestic box office to $73 million.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with foreign grosses, when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "No Strings Attached" (Paramount/Spyglass/Cold Spring): Opened to $20.3 million.

2. "The Green Hornet" (Sony): $18.1 million on its second weekend, down 46%. Domestic total: $63.4 million. $18.7 million overseas in 45 foreign markets. International total: $37.4 million.

3. "The Dilemma" (Universal/Spyglass): $9.7 million on its second weekend, down 45%. Domestic total: $33.4 million. $3 million overseas in 12 foreign markets. International total: $5.6 million.

4. "The King's Speech" (Weinstein Co.): $9.2 million on its ninth weekend, unchanged from last weekend. Domestic total: $58.6 million.

5. "True Grit" (Paramount/Skydance): $8 million on its fifth weekend, down 27%. Domestic total: $138.6 million.

6. "Black Swan" (Fox Searchlight): $6.2 million on its eighth weekend, down 26%. Domestic total: $83.6 million. $10.8 million overseas in nine foreign markets. International total: $11.1 million.

7. "The Fighter" (Relativity/Paramount): $4.5 million on its seventh weekend, down 11%. Domestic total: $73 million.

8. "Little Fockers" (Universal/Paramount/Relativity): $4.4 million on its fifth weekend, down 39%. Domestic total: $141.2 million. $7.7 million overseas. International total: $146.6 million.

9. "Yogi Bear" (Warner Bros.): $4.1 million on its sixth weekend, down 24%. Domestic total: $88.9 million. $5.9 million overseas in 15 foreign markets. International total: $22.7 million.

10. "Tron: Legacy" (Disney): $3.7 million on its sixth weekend, down 35%. Domestic total: $163.3 million. $6.9 million overseas in 48 foreign markets. International total: $181 million.]

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in "No Strings Attached." Credit: Dale Robinette / Paramount Pictures

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