'Green Hornet' poised to be first hit of 2011

Updated: 2011-01-14 14:32


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Opening in 2,941 theaters domestically, "The Dilemma" will have to compete for adult eyeballs with "True Grit" and "Black Swan."

Universal expects "The Dilemma" to gross in the mid to high teens over the four-day weekend. That would be enough to put the movie — which cost $70 million to make — on the right track financially, according to the studio.

However, "The Dilemma" will need good word-of-mouth and strong legs to end up in the black. Universal is comparing the movie to "Something's Gotta Give," which opened to $16.1 million and grossed $124.7 million domestically. However, that film played during the Christmas frame, when the multiple is much higher.

"The Dilemma," also starring Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly and Channing Tatum, is the first comedy directed by Howard in more than a decade. The plot revolves around a man (Vaughn) who discovers that the wife of his best friend and business partner (James) is having an affair and doesn't know what to do.

The film is tracking best among women over 25. The softest quadrant is men over 25, prompting some box-office observers to suggest the subject matter could be off-putting.

Universal says "The Dilemma" deals with serious relationship issues, similar to "The Break-Up," which paired Vaughn with Jennifer Aniston. "Break-Up," also a Universal film, opened to $39.2 million domestically on its way to grossing $118.7 million.

Vaughn's previous film, "Couples Retreat," bowed to $34.3 million in October 2009 and brought in $109.2 domestically.

"The Dilemma" opens in the same slot that Sony used to debut "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," which rocketed James to movie stardom after opening to an unexpectedly strong $31.8 million en route to a $146.3 million domestic gross.

This week at the domestic box office, "True Grit" has continued to place No. 1, followed by "Black Swan" and Universal's Christmas comedy "Little Fockers." "True Grit's" gross through Wednesday was $113.8 million, with "Black Swan" at $63.9 million and "Fockers" at $126.2 million.

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