After just one weekend of excitement surrounding the release of The Green Hornet, the box office reverted to more modest numbers this weekend. As the week’s sole new release the romantic comedy No Strings Attached came out on top, bringing in a higher than expected total estimated at $20.3 million from its 3,018 locations.
||No Strings Attached
||The Green Hornet
||The King’s Speech
No Strings Attached may have been the only wide release of the weekend, but that did not mean that Paramount was confident about its chances at the box office. The track record for recent romantic comedies suggested that the film would be met with a big, fat ‘meh’ by audiences. Titles like Love and Other Drugsand How Do You Know both came and went over the holidays. In fact, you have to look all the way back to February 2010 to find a romantic comedy winner with Valentine’s Day. The ensemble release opened above $56.2 million… the kind of big debut weekend that the box office hasn’t seen (for any genre) since Thanksgiving.
No Strings Attached – starring rom-com regular Ashton Kutcher and genre newbie Natalie Portman – did not get close to that Valentine’s Day weekend total, but it didn’t have to. That’s where being the only new movie of the week comes in handy. Paramount is reporting a budget of just $25 million, which means that their film won’t have far to go to make a profit. That figure, however, doesn’t take into account marketing costs which likely put the tally closer to $35 million. If Strings can maintain momentum over the coming week, then we’ll talk about the revival of the rom-com genre.
The film received a mixed reception with 51% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, but that makes it a critical darling next to the 11% of Kutcher’s last starring role in Killers. No Strings Attached also opened higher than Killers (and every other romantic comedy in recent memory) but just to illustrate the level of diminished expectations the box office is working from lately: this weekend’s number one film came in slightly lower than last summer’s The Bounty Hunter ($20.6 million). Makes you think more of Jennifer Aniston… or less of Ashton Kutcher (if possible).
Last weekend’s number one filmThe Green Hornet fell off by an estimated 46%. That’s a less than expected drop considering that Sunday estimates reflect the expected interference of football on the male-skewing title. The superhero comedy has a new domestic total of $63.4 million – making it the second highest-grossing superhero comedy of all-time behind The Incredibles. Number three on that list is last year’s Kick-Ass (which topped out at $48 million) followed byMystery Men. This is not a genre known for its big hits, in other words.
After a disappointing start last weekend, The Dilemma fell off by 45% in its second frame; coming in third with an estimated $9.7 million. With the film’s domestic gross barely topping $33.3 million after 10 days it seems unlikely that The Dilemma will make it past its reported budget of $70 million; which reminds me – the next time the cultural zeitgeist shifts and America decides that they will no longer rush to see any mediocre movie that stars Kevin James, I wish she’d give me the heads up first.
Once again, the most startling achievers this week were the award-seekers: The King’s Speechheld on to nearly all of its MLK weekend profits to stay at number four with $9.1 million. True Gritbrought its total up to $138.6 million which puts it nearly equal to the domestic total of Little Fockers. And finally, that other Natalie Portman movie – Black Swan – fell by just 25% and saw its total leap past $83.5 million… more than No Strings Attached can hope to earn with more than double its budget.
Two new titles join the January fray next weekend with Anthony Hopkins debuting in the PG-13The Rite and Jason Statham headlining CBS’s R rated The Mechanic. The Rite has a slight theatre count advantage but, who knows? In a topsy-turvy worls where Kevin James movies fail and Ashton Kutcher movies succeed, it isn’t inconceivable that CBS Films could have a hit.