Trio set for Paramount's untitled romantic comedy

Veteran producer and director Ivan Reitman will get back behind the camera in May to direct Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in an untitled romantic comedy for Paramount Pictures.

Script was penned by Elizabeth Meriwether.

Par has already locked in a release date for the pic, which is set to open Jan. 7 — a lucrative frame for femme-driven comedies.

Paramount is producing with Reitman’s Montecito Picture Co., in association with Portman’s shingle handsomecharliefilms and Kutcher’s Katalyst. Cold Spring Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment are co-financing with Par.

Project’s working title is “Friends With Benefits.”

The logline is being kept under tight wraps, although storyline generally revolves around the ease with which men and women become sexually involved, but have a far more difficult time establishing emotional bonds.

“It’s an issue ripe for discussion,” Reitman told Daily Variety.

Reitman is producer, along with Montecito’s Jeffrey Clifford and Joe Medjuck. Exec producers are Montecito’s Tom Pollock, Portman and Spyglass Entertainment’s Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber and Jon Glickman. Montecito’s Ali Bell will co-produce.

Reitman’s directing credits include the “Ghostbuster” franchise — he’s readying “Ghostbusters 3″ for Sony Pictures — “Stripes” and “Dave.” He’s become a prolific producer via Montecito, and received his first Academy Award nomination for producing Paramount’s “Up in the Air,” directed by his son, Jason Reitman.

Portman is in theaters this fall with David Gordon Green’s adventure-comedy “Your Highness,” from Universal. She recently wrapped production on Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” and also is set to star in Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor.”

Kutcher was most recently seen in Gary Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day,” and will next be seen in Robert Luketic’s action-comedy “Killers” opposite Katherine Heigl. Lionsgate opens “Killers” June 4.

Portman and Kutcher are repped by CAA.

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