Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday Box Office (01-22-11): No Strings Attached opens with $7.3 million, but Nikki Finke falsely calls Ashton Kutcher a flop-machine anyway.

"...any movie starring Ashton Kutcher is probably a bomb..." - Nikki Finke discussing Paramount's unwillingness to personally send her a press briefing on No Strings Attached

An absolute falsehood. She bases her assertion on a single film, Killers, which opened with $15 million and grossed $93 million worldwide (which would have been fine had the film not cost $70 million). Valentine's Day (an ensemble film where he had the lead role) opened to $56 million just last year. What Happened In Vegas opened to $20 million and ended up with $219 million worldwide (his biggest grosser ever) just under three years ago. Sure, he occasionally out-and-out whiffs (A Thing Like Love, My Boss's Daughter), but Kutcher is a relatively consistent opener.

Of his fifteen wide-openers as a lead (including No Strings Attached, which should do about $20 million following a $7.3 million Friday), his lowest is My Boss's Daughter with $4.2 million, followed by A Lot Like Love with $7.3 million. After that we get the lower-end, but okay openers: $13 million for Dude, Where's My Car and Killers with $15 million. Then he he has seven films opening between $17-23 million. The two high-end outliers are Cheaper by the Dozen at $27 million and Valentine's Day. Point being, Kutcher is a reliable opener who delivers mid-level opening weekends for movies that generally have mid-to-low budgets, films that generally gross (9 out of 14 so far) between $93 million and $219 million worldwide. Ashton Kutcher actually remains one of the more reliable stars working today, as long as you keep your budget in check.

Anyway, the No Strings Attached number is pretty solid, proving that the adult romantic comedy was in no real peril, but rather that the last couple high-profile entries (The Dilemma and How Do You Know) just cost way too much. The Dilemma cost $70 million and How Do You Know cost $120 million. The Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher vehicle cost just $25 million. Lesson learned? Of course not.

Scott Mendelson

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