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Posted at 12:25 AM ET, 01/24/2011

Weekend box office: Natalie Portman can't lose and other lessons learned

By Jen Chaney

Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, the (carrot) tops at the box office. (Paramount)

"No Strings Attached" was the No. 1 movie at the weekend box office, confirming a fact that was already obvious: moviegoers love the idea of having non-commital sex with Natalie Portman.

But that's only one lesson that movie ticket sales taught us this week. A few more, and a list of the top five money-makers, follows.

Lesson 1: Good things happen when Portman has romantic flings with former "That '70s Show" stars

Ms. Portman hooks up many, many times with Kelso, aka Ashton Kutcher, in "No Strings Attached." The result: the movie earned an estimated $20.3 million, putting it in the aforementioned top spot and nearly recouping all of its modest $25 million budget in its first weekend of release.

The rom-com follows Portman's critical and commercial success in "Black Swan," a film in which she plays an insecure ballerina who starts to lose her inhibitions when she gets intimate with ... Jackie from "That '70s Show." Okay, if it's not already in the works, clearly someone needs to pitch a movie that features Topher Grace as Portman's love interest.

For the record, "Black Swan" finished the weekend in sixth place, adding another $6.2 million to its total gross, which now stands at $83.5 million.

Lesson 2: Awards season attention can lead to consistently strong box office, especially when almost every other movie in theaters is total crap.

Several of the films that won Golden Globe Awards and/or look poised to snag some Academy Award nominations tomorrow -- namely "The King's Speech," "True Grit," the aforementioned "Black Swan" and "The Fighter" -- all continued to do solid business at the box office. Apparently quality counts for something.

Of course, this would be even more encouraging news if those movies weren't competing against the likes of "Season of the Witch" and "Country Strong." "The Fighter" doesn't exactly have to fight too hard in the multiplex cess pol that is January.

Lesson 3: Seth Rogen and Vince Vaughn don't have a ton of staying power ... at least not at the moment.

Both "The Green Hornet" and "The Dilemma" saw their business fall by more than 45 percent. Both still remained in the top 3, but with a ways to go to officially be profitable.

Here's the list of the top five movies of the weekend, followed by a survey that gives you the chance to predict next week's No. 1.

1. "No Strings Attached" -- $20.3 million
2. "The Green Hornet" -- $18.1 million
3. "The Dilemma" -- $9.7 million
4. "The King's Speech" -- $9.1 million
5. "True Grit" -- $8 million

By Jen Chaney  | January 24, 2011; 12:25 AM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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Next: The Razzie nominations: 'Eclipse' and 'Airbender' lead the field in wretched filmmaking


It seems like "franchise" movies are struggling and original films by directors who want to tell original or personal stories are doing well. Aronofski and The Coen Brothers movies usually play art houses. Now they've racked up almost two hundred million in the 6 weeks. A good sign.

Posted by: TedfromRichmond | January 24, 2011 8:31 AM | Report abuse

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