Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson box office comparison
Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson? Who came out on top at the North American box office in March 2010 – or about three months prior to the June 30 opening of mega-blockbuster-to-be The Twilight Saga: Eclipse?
The answer in all likelihood is Robert Pattinson, though neither Pattinson's Remember Me nor Stewart's The Runaways has fared well at all.
'Remember Me' disappoints
Despite its modest $16 million budget, Remember Me has been a box office disappointment. A Summit Entertainment release in North America, the romantic drama should eventually end up in the black – but only after international grosses and ancillary revenues are tallied so as to cover both production and marketing/distribution expenses.
After ten days out, Remember Me has grossed only $13.9 million at the domestic box office. With quite a bit of luck, it'll reach $20 million; Summit should collect about half of that.
The film is not doing all that well overseas either, though it has yet to open in a number of major markets.
Directed by Allen Coulter, besides Robert Pattinson Remember Me also features Emilie de Ravin, Pierce Brosnan, and Chris Cooper.
'The Runaways' disappoints even more
Starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, Floria Sigismondi's The Runaways had an even lower budget than Remember Me: only $10 million. Once again, the musical biopic will probably earn its producers and/or distributors a (however small) profit, but definitely not at the North American box office.
The Runaways took in $803,000 on its opening weekend (March 19–21, '10) at 244 screens, which translates into $3,291 per screen – a low average for a movie in limited release.
For comparison's sake, at 2,212 screens, Remember Me averaged $3,657 per screen. Generally speaking, the fewer the number of screens the higher the per-screen average for movies of equal box office appeal.
Admittedly, The Runaways may have suffered because of its R rating – drugs, expletives, and a lesbian kiss – which probably made it more difficult for Kristen Stewart fans in their early-to-mid teens to check out the movie. Remember Me, on the other hand, was rated PG-13.
The Runaways will go wide in April, but expect the per-screen average to drop dramatically. With luck, the film will reach a $7-8 million domestic cume. We'll see.
Update: The Runaways cumed at $3.57 million.
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart box office stars?
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart – and to a lesser extent Taylor Lautner – have been hailed as the latest Hollywood superstars following the phenomenal worldwide success of Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight and Chris Weitz's New Moon.
A few weeks ago, Pattinson and Stewart were in fact featured in a Vanity Fair piece about the top 40 Hollywood moneymakers of 2009. Yet, as mentioned above, both Pattinson's Remember Me and Stewart's The Runaways have turned out to be sizable domestic box office disappointments. And there have been other such relatively recent duds as well.
Filmed three years ago but released last Feb. 26, Udayan Prasad's The Yellow Handkerchief was pushed as a Kristen Stewart star vehicle even though it features Best Actor Academy Award winner William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985) and A History of Violence leading lady Maria Bello. To date, the $15.5 million romantic drama has taken in a measly $183,000; The Yellow Handkerchief will be lucky if it reaches the $300,000 mark in North America.
In May 2009, several months after Twilight became a major worldwide hit, Paul Morrison's Little Ashes, an Anglo-Spanish drama about a fictitious love affair between Salvador Dali (Robert Pattinson) and Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltrán), collected a total of $481,000 north of the Rio Grande.
'Twilight' blockbusters, non-'Twilight' bombs?
Some may see a Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart pattern here: Twilight = $$$; non-Twilight = empty theaters. Their obvious conclusion would be that Pattinson and Stewart are box office draws only within the confines of the Twilight Saga franchise. An obvious conclusion, perhaps, but also a myopic one.
After all, had Sandra Bullock played Joan Jett in the R-rated, $10 million indie-made The Runaways – hardly a critical favorite – it's unlikely that the rock biopic would have fared all that much better at the domestic box office even though Bullock probably has a larger adult following than Stewart.
For instance, Infamous, which opened in limited release to generally positive reviews in 2006, grossed only $1.1 million despite Bullock's presence in one of the lead roles.
Along the same lines, had box office magnet Will Smith played Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, chances are that the “what-if biopic” would have made even less money. (Not that Pattinson wasn't badly miscast as Dali.)
John Wayne as a screaming drag queen: Hit or flop?
The point is, box office stars are box office stars only in the right vehicles. That's the way it has always been. Marilyn Monroe as Medea would have flopped back in her heyday and the same goes for John Wayne as a screaming drag queen back in his heyday.
Clark Gable starred in a series of major hits for MGM in the '30s and early '40s, invariably playing variations of the same macho, cynical ladies' man. But John M. Stahl's 1937 historical drama Parnell, in which Gable was cast as an Irish idealist who ends up quite dead, was an embarrassing flop despite the presence of the popular Myrna Loy as the female lead.
Here's a more recent example: during her heyday in the '90s, Julia Roberts failed to open the critically panned period piece Mary Reilly while her presence also failed to turn Woody Allen's whimsical Everyone Says I Love You into a commercial hit.
The indie factor
Also worth pointing out is that neither Remember Me nor The Runaways – or Little Ashes or The Yellow Handkerchief, for that matter – are commercial productions. All four are indie films.
And indie films have a terribly tough time going mainstream unless they have cute, uplifting storylines like Little Miss Sunshine. Or they are cheap, cheesy horror flicks abetted by clever, viral marketing campaigns, e.g., The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Or they get lots of awards season attention, as has been the case with Lee Daniels' Precious and Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart.
Without any Oscar buzz, Edward Cullen as a conflicted gay artist or an aimless rebel who dies before the final credits and Bella Swan as a tough lesbian rocker or a troubled young drifter are hardly the types of characters to lure Robert Pattinson's and Kristen Stewart's respective fan bases into theaters. Or, as the case may be, to lure those who deride Pattinson and Stewart because of their Twilight association.
'Twilight' fans not much of a concern
Anyhow, one thing seems to be clear: Pattinson's and Stewart's Twilight fans are not much of a concern for either performer. Else, they would have chosen much safer vehicles: a sappy romantic comedy; a feel-good family melodrama; an action flick based on some comic-strip character.
That's what Taylor Lautner has done by way of both Garry Marshall's Valentine's Day and the announced Stretch Armstrong. Admittedly, these sorts of vehicles are all future options for both Pattinson and Stewart.
Too early to determine 'Twilight' stars' box office appeal
In sum, it's much too early to tell whether Robert Pattinson's and Kristen Stewart's film careers will fade to black after the Twilight Saga runs its course. Personally, I find that highly unlikely. I mean, if Sean Connery could do it – talk about an actor associated with one role – why can't they?
Both are in their early 20s, and have plenty of time to branch out while honing their acting skills. Tom Cruise, for one, became a teen idol following All the Right Moves and Risky Business in the early '80s. I don't believe many people back then predicted that Cruise would still be a major worldwide box office draw nearly thirty years later.
All it took was a careful selection of roles: crowd-pleasing banalities (Mission: Impossible and sequels, War of the Worlds) interspersed with heavier, Oscar-baiting projects (Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia) directed by and/or co-starring respected screen talent.
If Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart find their way, Twilight naysayers notwithstanding, they could be around for a very, very long time.
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart: Who received better reviews?
Now, who came out on top in terms of critical acclaim, Robert Pattinson for his rebellious Tyler Hawkins in Remember Me or Kristen Stewart for her rebellious Joan Jett in The Runaways?
The clear answer is Kristen Stewart, even though both Pattinson and Stewart have been commended for taking chances while away from the Twilight Saga.
In fact, neither Remember Me, in which the hero dies in the September 2001 terrorist attacks, nor The Runaways, a rock biopic of the titular '70s all-girl band, could be considered conventional vehicles for two up-and-coming stars whose fan base is for the most part composed of teenage girls.
From Bella Swan to Joan Jett
Kristen Stewart made more of an impression on critics probably because her impersonation of Joan Jett, portrayed as a tough, determined lesbian in The Runaways, is a far cry from the actress' confused Bella Swan, torn between a vampire (Robert Pattinson) and a werewolf (Taylor Lautner) in the Twilight film franchise.
“Stewart, known mainly for mumbling and stumbling through the Twilight movies, is the revelation here,” wrote Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle, while in the Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert says he now believes the actress “could handle such a tough-as-nails character” as the punkish computer hacker in David Fincher's planned American remake of Niels Arden Oplev's Swedish thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Robert Pattinson vs. James Dean
Robert Pattinson's more conventional Remember Me rebel was considerably less well received, with many critics making unflattering comparisons to James Dean's antihero portrayals in East of Eden or Rebel Without a Cause.
A typical comment is that of Michael O'Sullivan in the Washington Post:
In attitude, if not aptitude, Robert Pattinson in Remember Me comes across like a latter-day James Dean. Playing Tyler Hawkins … the Twilight hunk fills the screen with cigarette smoke, stubble and hooded green eyes, but little else.
Pattinson, of course, also had his supporters. And as stated above, a number of critics – even some who weren't crazy about either his character or the movie itself – remarked on the 23-year-old actor's “daring” career choice.
Chris Weitz on 'New Moon' & working with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart
As an aside, Chris Weitz discusses the making of The Twilight Saga: New Moon and working with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in an interview found at Movieweb.
Despite having directed pop culture phenomena like American Pie and New Moon, Weitz calls himself a “pop culture moron.” He had no idea about the Robert Pattinson-Jimmy Fallon “bothered” deal, and from his response seemed just as oblivious to what “bothered” meant exactly. (“How bothered is Robert? He doesn't seem terribly bothered at all.”)
Weitz adds that he was never meant to continue with the Twilight series, whether on Eclipse or Breaking Dawn, explaining, “I think the continuity is supplied by the actor and the series of books.”
David Slade 'much better' action director
About David Slade, who is supposed to be bringing a darker vision to Eclipse, Weitz says:
Just as New Moon looked different from Twilight, I'm sure Eclipse will look different from New Moon. That is good. I don't want to make anybody follow any type of particular aesthetic. The reason he was brought on was to make every movie different. I think Eclipse is much more action-intensive. For instance, I am pretty terrible at shooting action. He is much better in that regard.
In the interview, Chris Weitz also discusses the New Moon promotional tour, negative critical reaction to the film (“We still live in a state where pop culture is dominated by male desires”), the suggestion that New Moon “might be a more male friendly film,” and the upcoming American Reunion.
'Eclipse' movie cast
Eclipse, the third installment in the Twilight Saga franchise, will hit North American theaters on June 30.
Besides Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, Eclipse features the following:
Best Actress Academy Award nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace).
Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air).
Robert Pattinson Remember Me image: Myles Aronowitz / Summit Entertainment.
Kristen Stewart and Chris Weitz New Moon image: Summit Entertainment.