Los Angeles - Natalie Portman, already riding high during awards season with
Black Swan, took the no 1 spot at
the North American box office on Sunday for the first time in five years with
her romantic comedy debut.
No Strings Attached, in which she
co-stars with Ashton Kutcher, sold about $20.3m worth of tickets across
the United States and Canada during the three days beginning January 21,
distributor Paramount Pictures said.
The opening exceeded the modest expectations of the Viacom Inc unit, which
said the film cost just $25m to make. Portman and Kutcher play friends
who enter into a sexual relationship with the titular proviso. Complications
Paramount said women accounted for 70% of the audience, and patrons
aged under 25 gave it the best reviews in exit polls. Paramount said it was
impossible to tell how the Black Swan
buzz helped, but "everything helps", noted the studio's distribution
president Don Harris.
The film was directed by Ghostbusters
veteran Ivan Reitman who has not had a big hit since Six Days, Seven Nights in 1998. Kutcher's last big movie was What Happens in Vegas, a 2008 romantic
comedy with Cameron Diaz. Portman, 29, last led the box office in March 2006
when the thriller V For Vendetta
grossed $26m during its first weekend.
Oscar films in focus
Last weekend's champion, Columbia Pictures' 3D comic-book adaptation The Green Hornet, slipped to no 2 with
$18.1m. The Dilemma, a
Universal Pictures romantic comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, was
also down one, to no 3, with $9.7m in its second weekend. Their
respective 10-day totals stand at $63.4m and $33.4m.
No Strings Attached was the
weekend's only new wide release, in keeping with January's reputation as a
graveyard for new films. Much of the focus is on the awards-season contenders,
four of which were in the top 10.
That includes Black Swan, in which
Portman plays an unhinged ballerina. The Fox Searchlight melodrama slipped one
to no 6 with $6.2m. It has earned $83.6m to date, and is poised
for further gains as the awards season enters the home stretch. Portman has won
most of the bellwether awards leading up to Tuesday's announcement of the Academy
Elsewhere, Weinstein Co's royals drama The
King's Speech was steady at no 4 with $9.2m. The film's Oscar
chances received a surprise boost on Saturday when it was named best picture by
the Producers Guild of America, a group whose picks usually go on to win the
top Oscar. Its victory weakened the awards-season dominance of The Social Network, which has just come
out on DVD.
Paramount's hit Western remake True
Grit, largely overlooked during awards season, fell two to no 5 with $8m; its total stands at $138.6m, easily a personal best for
filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen.
The Fighter, also released by
Paramount, rose two to no 7 with $4.5m; the boxing drama, buoyed by
acclaim for Christian Bale's supporting turn as a boxer-turned-crackhead, has
earned $73m to date.
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