Box Office: ‘No Strings Attached’ on Pace for a Solid $20M Weekend

Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman rom-com right on tracking with $7.3M Friday; “Green Hornet” and “Dilemma” both set to drop just under 50%

Saturday update:

Ivan Reitman-directed romantic comedy "No Strings Attached" opened solidly to $7.3 million Friday, according to studio estimates, putting the R-rated Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman film on pace to match pre-release tracking projections of around $20 million.

Budgeted at $25 million, "No Strings" debuted in 3,018 theaters with softish reviews (49 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), but great tracking among women under 25, with 57 percent of that demographic expressing "definite interest" in seeing the movie, according to one tracking firm.

Sony's "The Green Hornet" finished in second place Friday with $7.3 million. The $130 million Seth Rogen 3D action movie should cross the $60 million mark domestically by the end of the weekend, while experiencing a week-to-week drop of under 50 percent, if projections hold up.

Universal buddy comedy "The Dilemma" is in third place with an estimated $3 million on Friday.

The Ron Howard-directed movie, which stars Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, is expected to bring in over $9 million this weekend and also drop less than 50 percent from its premiere week.

Overall, the domestic box office continues to pace down around 30 percent over last year's "Avatar"-led performance.

Here's how the top 10 finished Friday:

"No Strings Attached" ($7.3m)
"The Green Hornet" ($5.1m)
"The Dilemma" ($3.0m)
"The King's Speech" ($2.1m)
"True Grit" ($2.1m)
"Black Swan" ($1.8m)
"The Fighter" ($1.2m)
"Little Fockers" ($1.2m)
"Tron Legacy" ($928k)
"Yogi Bear" ($740k)

More to come…

Thursday preview:

Are we alone in the universe? Which religion is right about God? Where did Stonehenge come from? Is the Loch Ness Monster real? How about Big Foot?

And can sex friends stay best friends?

Paramount is diving knee-deep into the latter conundrum, making it ad copy for its Ivan Reitman-directed comedy "No Strings Attached," which it will release into 3,018 theaters Friday.

Arriving with an R rating, star power from Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman, and a 50 percent score from Rotten Tomatoes, "No Strings" is being projected by movie tracking firms to bring in about $20 million this weekend, which would be a solid performance for a film that cost a reported $25 million to make.

"No Strings" is the only wide-opening film this weekend, although there are a couple of notable indide releases: Peter Weir's gulag-themed "The Way Back" from Newmarket Films will open up in 650 theaters, while The Weinstein Company will start out the John Wells-directed "Company Men" in 106 locations.

The numbers stack up for "No Strings Attached," which stars Kutcher and Portman as yuppies who test the boundaries of platonic friendship by bringing a little carnal fulfillment into their relationship.

According to one tracking firm, 87 percent of women under 25 polled in North America know the film is coming out, while fully 57 percent have a definite interest in seeing the movie.

"No Strings Attached" is co-produced by Paramount, Spyglass Entertainment and Cold Spring Pictures.

Sony's "Green Hornet," which opened to a solid $40 million over last weekend's four-day Martin Luther King holiday, will challenge "No Strings" for the box-office title in its second weekend, given a standard decline of 50 percent week-to-week.

The Seth Rogen film cost Sony $130 million to make and is on the road to profitability.

Universal comedy "The Dilemma," which also debuted last weekend, is in a slightly more precarious situation, opening to just over $21.1 million over the four-day holiday on a $70 million budget.

Universal is hoping for a solid week two, with a drop of well under 50 percent.