- No Strings Attached movie box office: Natalie Portman, 2011’s shoo-in Best Actress Academy Award winner, stars in the year’s first sleeper hit. Ivan Reitman directed this Paramount-distributed romantic comedy; Ashton Kutcher costars.
No Strings Attached movie box office: Best Actress Oscar winner-to-be Natalie Portman boosts year’s first sleeper hit
Jan. 21–23 weekend box office: Directed by Ivan Reitman, and starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, Paramount Pictures’ R-rated romantic comedy No Strings Attached topped the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart, grossing $19.7 million from 3,018 theaters according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
That’s hardly a blockbuster figure, but it’s enough for No Strings Attached to be considered the year’s first sleeper hit. Here’s why:
The unenthusiastically received tale of two longtime friends (Portman and Kushner) who, after having sex, make a pact to keep their relationship free of commitments (and jealousies), Reitman’s romantic comedy (initially titled “Fuckbuddies”) reportedly cost only $25 million – though, admittedly, it’s unclear how much Paramount has shelled out on the marketing and distribution of their film, which, after all, features two big-name stars.
Back-to-back commercial surprises
Undoubtedly, one key reason for the unexpected success of No Strings Attached is the Natalie Portman effect.
This pairing with Ashton Kutcher is Portman’s second consecutive sleeper hit, following Darren Aronofsky’s (far more successful and more prestigious) psychological thriller Black Swan, which has already earned her plenty of awards-season accolades and will surely also earn her the year’s Best Actress Academy Award.
Also worth noting, No Strings Attached boasted Portman’s biggest opening weekend since James McTeigue’s dystopian political thriller V for Vendetta, which debuted with $25.6 million back in 2006.
Keeping things a bit in perspective: In the long run there’s little chance No Strings Attached will surpass the domestic (or international) take of Black Swan, this weekend’s no. 6 movie with $5.9 million (cume: $83.3 million). There’s also little chance that No Strings Attached will reach $100 million in the domestic market alone.
Ivan Reitman’s first hit in more than a decade
Something else worth mentioning: On its debut weekend, No Strings Attached almost matched the amount Ivan Reitman’s previous effort, the 2006 Uma Thurman-Luke Wilson comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend, earned during its entire domestic run ($22.5 million; adjusted: approximately $27 million). In fact, Reitman’s most recent hit was the Harrison Ford-Anne Heche action comedy Six Days Seven Nights back in 1998 ($74.3 million domestically, plus an estimated $90.5 million internationally).
Lastly, No Strings Attached happens to be Ashton Kutcher’s best (inflation-adjusted) opening since What Happened in Vegas. Directed by Tom Vaughan and costarring Cameron Diaz, the spring 2008 romantic comedy opened with $20.2 million – or $22.3 million today – from 3,255 theaters, going on to score $80.3 million domestically and $139.1 million internationally.
Besides Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, also in the No Strings Attached movie cast: Oscar winner Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, 1988), who had starred for Ivan Reitman in the hit 1993 political comedy Dave, plus Cary Elwes, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell, Olivia Thirlby, Jake Johnson, Ludacris, Mindy Kaling, Talia Balsam, Ben Lawson, and Jennifer Irwin.
Mid-level – but hugely profitable – box office success
Update: The Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy No Strings Attached ultimately collected a solid (in relation to its modest cost) $70.7 million domestically and $78.6 million internationally. Worldwide total: $149.2 million – barring exorbitant marketing and distribution expenses, a hugely profitable amount.
Its top international markets were France ($8.2 million), Australia ($7.9 million), Russia/CIS ($6.7 million), Mexico ($5 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($4.1 million), Spain ($4 million), Germany ($3.8 million), and Brazil ($3.4 million).
Japan isn’t found on Box Office Mojo’s list.
”No Strings Attached Movie Box Office” endnotes
In other weekend box office news, Peter Weir’s (purportedly) real-life-inspired adventure drama The Way Back turned out to be a commercial fiasco. Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, and Saoirse Ronan star.
Unless otherwise noted, “No Strings Attached Movie Box Office: Natalie Portman Is Major Domestic Draw” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about No Strings Attached and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.
Natalie Portman No Strings Attached movie image: Dale Robinette | Paramount Pictures.
“No Strings Attached Movie Box Office: Natalie Portman Is Major Domestic Draw” last updated in November 2022.