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Will Par’s ‘Strings’ resonate?

Pic opens at 3,018 locations this weekend

While “No Strings Attached” may not be as eye-catching a title as “Fuck Buddies” (pic’s working title), the Paramount romantic comedy unspools at a robust 3,018 locations this weekend.

Pic starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman marks a shift in tone from Portman’s other movie currently in release, Fox Searchlight psychological horror film “Black Swan,” for which she won a Golden Globe for lead drama actress last week.

Corporate downsizing drama “The Company Men,” for which veteran TV and film producer John Wells took on his first feature directing gig, opens this weekend at 106 locations in North America. Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Kevin Costner topline the Weinstein Co. pic.

Newmarket’s Peter Weir-helmed drama “The Way Back,” starring Colin Farrell, Ed Harris and Jim Sturgess, also unspools this weekend with a healthy 650 domestic screen release. Pic has alreadycumed more than $6 million overseas in the U.K., Spain and the Netherlands. Helmer was last in theaters with larger-scale Russell Crowe starrer “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” in 2003.

“The Way Back” will be the first release under specialty distribution label Wrekin Hill Entertainment, headed by former Newmarket co-prexy and founder Chris Ball.

With few pics in the marketplace aimed at the “No Strings Attached” sweet spot of women 17-24 besides Universal’s “The Dilemma,” bizzers project a healthy opening weekend in the mid-to-high teens. While tracking well in its targeted audience with gains in the past few days, pic’s also got good early awareness from Hispanic auds.

Movie is a co-production with the Montecito Picture Co., led by “Strings” writer-director Ivan Reitman.

Sunday’s Golden Globe buzz has generated heat for TWC’s “The King Speech” and “Black Swan,” both of which earned lead acting kudos. Both are still at the height of their theatrical runs — “Swan” has cumed more than $75 million since its Dec. 3 opening, while “Speech,” with grosses up 33% in the U.K. in its second frame there, has grossed close to $50 million in the U.S. since its Nov. 26 release. “Swan” opens in Australia, Germany and the U.K. this weekend while expanding in the U.S. this weekend from 2,328 to 2,407; “Speech” expands from 1,543 to 1,680.

Internationally, other pics expanding this frame include Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter,” unspooling in France. Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” earned close to $6 million at 422 locations in its boffo opening weekend in the country in 2009.

Foreign auds will get a chance to see several high-budget studio pics this weekend, including Sony’s 3D action comedy “The Green Hornet,” which took the crown for overseas performance last weekend with $15 million in 35 territories. Pic will expand to Australia and Mexico; “Little Fockers,” which trailed close behind “Hornet” with $14.2 million overseas, will expand to India.

Specialty titles bowing domestically today include IFC’s Spanish film “Housemaid,” opening at two locations in New York.

Sony Picture Classics’ “Barney’s Version,” for which star Paul Giamatti took home a Golden Globe actor kudo, will add theaters in Chicago, greater Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Pic played at four locations in New York last week. SPC plans to open the pic in most of the major markets in the next few weeks, with an expansion planned for February.

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