Weekend box office preview: Will the Kutcher and Natalie Portman swarm “The Green Hornet”?

There’s only one major new release this week and, yeah, I kind of hate it, but that’s never prevented a movie from making a nice sum at the box office.

No Strings Attached” features easily my last favorite star of this, or really any, generation, Ashton Kutcher. It also features the vastly more talented and likable Natalie Portman, a really strong supporting cast, and what I see as really lousy screenplay that can’t be salvaged by director Ivan Reitman or anyone else. The film is an attempt to do an Apatow-style comedy for youngish women and, leaving aside my personal dislike of the film, I have a hunch it will do rather well. It’s actually splitting critics which, considering it’s an Ashton Kutcher film, is probably the equivalent of an Oscar sweep.

Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman have

Given the film’s positive tracking among women discussed by THR’s Pamela McClintock, Ben Fritz says that the conventional wisdom is the movie will make roughly $20 million. That makes it a real threat to the #1 status of “The Green Hornet.” The action comedy earned roughly $33 million last weekend and, for that kind of film, a 50% week #2 drop is actually not doing at all badly. Also, considering the very modest budget of “No Strings” ($20 million), it’s almost sure to be profitable for Paramount.

A couple of interesting and well reviewed movies are also getting much more aggressive than usual limited releases. Director Peter Weir (“The Truman Show,” “Witness”) returns with Ed Harris in tow in the Gulag escape drama, “The Way Back” from Newmarket and the very topical star-driven “The Company Men” from director John Wells is out from the Weinstein Company. The real mystery is why these well-regarded, if not quite ecstatically received, films weren’t at least given a shot at awards with a pre-2011 Oscar-qualifying run.

  

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