Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson box office: Following the release of The Runaways & Remember Me, which Twilight Saga lead has fared better?
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have been a joint box office magnet – along with third wheel Taylor Lautner – in the two Twilight Saga movies released to date, Catherine Hardwicke’s sleeper blockbuster Twilight (2008) and Chris Weitz’s brighter-than-expected New Moon (2009). And in three months, their millions of ardent fans will be lining up for David Slade’s mega-blockbuster-to-be The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
But while away from the characters of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, which one of the two Twi-actors have come out on top at the domestic box office following the March release of the low-budget indies The Runaways, costarring Stewart, and Remember Me, starring Pattinson in his first non-Twilight star vehicle?
The answer is Robert Pattinson, though neither Remember Me nor The Runaways has fared well at all with domestic audiences. This oft-updated article attempts to explain why.
Remember Me box office disappoints
Despite its modest $16 million budget (not including marketing and distribution expenses), Remember Me – for which Robert Pattinson received an executive producer credit – has been a sizable box office disappointment.
A Summit Entertainment release domestically, the New York City-set romantic melodrama – Oscar winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation, 2002) described it as “a sort of love letter to New York” – should eventually end up in the black, but only after international and ancillary revenues are tallied.
Mostly negative reviews have been no help. After three weekends out, Remember Me has brought in only $17 million; with quite a bit of luck, it’ll reach $20 million. Another minus: The movie isn’t doing all that well overseas either, though it has yet to open in a number of major markets.
Besides Robert Pattinson and Chris Cooper, Remember Me also features Emilie de Ravin, Pierce Brosnan, Tate Ellington, Ruby Jerins, and Oscar nominee Lena Olin (Enemies: A Love Story, 1989). Allen Coulter directed from a screenplay by Will Fetters (reportedly with rewrites by Jenny Lumet).
Update: Remember Me ended its run with $19.1 million in the U.S. and Canada, and a better than expected $37 million internationally. Worldwide total: $56 million – likely enough for the Robert Pattinson star vehicle to (at least) break even at the global box office.
Top international markets: U.K./Ireland ($5.5 million), France ($3.5 million), Russia/CIS ($3.5 million), Germany ($3.3 million), Italy ($3 million), Brazil ($2 million), Belgium/Luxembourg ($1.5 million), Australia ($1.2 million), and Mexico ($1.1 million).
The Runaways box office is a far bigger disappointment
Named after the 1970s all-girl rock band, The Runaways stars Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart as, respectively, vocalist Cherie Currie and guitarist/vocalist Joan Jett. Budgeted at only $10 million, the Apparition release will find it impossible to break even at the box office.
On its opening weekend (March 19–21), The Runaways took in $805,000 at 244 theaters – or $3,299 per venue, a low average for a movie in limited release. For comparison’s sake, at 2,212 locations, Remember Me averaged $3,656 per venue on its (pretty mediocre) debut weekend. All things being equal, the fewer the number of screens the higher the per-screen average should be for movies of equal box office appeal.
Admittedly, The Runaways may have suffered because of its R rating – drugs, expletives, a lesbian kiss – which probably made it more difficult for Kristen Stewart fans in their early-to-mid-teens to check it out. Remember Me was rated PG-13.
Wider release likely to be short-lived
The Runaways will be going wide in April, but expect the per-theater average to drop dramatically. With luck, the movie will reach $7–8 million domestically. Not helping matters, international prospects for a film about a rock band that most people around the world have never heard of are – at best – iffy, especially considering that potential draw Kristen Stewart is featured in a role that is the very opposite of The Twilight Saga’s Bella Swan.
And that leaves ancillary – mostly domestic – revenues (DVDs, pay-per-view, etc.) as the only potential avenue for The Runaways to have any chance whatsoever of recouping its production cost.
Directed by Floria Sigismondi, who also adapted Cherie Currie’s Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway, The Runaways also features Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, 2008), Riley Keough, Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton, Johnny Lewis, Keir O’Donnell, Brett Cullen, and Oscar winner Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon, 1973).
Update: The Runaways ended its domestic run with a paltry $3.6 million. Internationally, it collected a measly $1.1 million, for a worldwide total of $4.7 million.
Its top international markets were Australia ($326,000) and France ($316,000).
Using their own calculations, the website The Numbers estimates that The Runaways earned $6.8 million in the home video market. If at all accurate – and barring some sort of contractual caveats (e.g., overly generous international sales?) – that would still leave the Dakota Fanning-Kristen Stewart rock drama very much in the red.
Are Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson box office stars?
Following the phenomenal worldwide success of the Twilight Saga movies, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson – and to a lesser extent Taylor Lautner – have been hailed as the latest Hollywood superstars. In fact, just a few weeks ago Stewart and Pattinson were featured in a Vanity Fair piece about the top 40 Hollywood moneymakers of 2009.
Yet, as discussed above, Stewart’s The Runaways and Pattinson’s Remember Me – their first non-Twilight releases since the bigger-than-expected global success of New Moon last fall – have turned out to be domestic box office underperformers. And there have been other such duds in the past year as well.
Filmed about three years ago but released in February, Udayan Prasad’s The Yellow Handkerchief was plugged as a Kristen Stewart star vehicle even though it also features Best Actor Academy Award winner William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985) and A History of Violence leading lady Maria Bello. After five weekends, the $15.5 million psychological drama has taken in less than $200,000.
In May 2009, several months after the original Twilight came out, 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.
Compared to these two titles, Greg Mottola’s well-regarded $10 million budget comedy-drama Adventureland, featuring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, and Kristen Wiig, was an all-out blockbuster: The April 2009 release earned $16 million domestically and another $1.1 million elsewhere.
Twilight blockbusters, non-Twilight bombs?
Some may see a pattern here: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in Twilight = full houses; Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson away from Twilight = empty houses.
Their obvious conclusion would be that Stewart and Pattinson are box office draws only within the confines of the Twilight Saga franchise. But however obvious this conclusion, it would also be a myopic one.
After all, had Sandra Bullock played Joan Jett in the low-budget, R-rated The Runaways – hardly a critical favorite – it’s unlikely that the rock biopic would have fared all that much better domestically even though Bullock, just recently named 2009’s Top Domestic Box Office Draw, surely has a larger adult following than Kristen Stewart.
For instance, Douglas McGrath’s 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 key roles.
Along the same lines, had Will Smith played Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, the what-if “biopic” might have become an even bigger box office dud.
John Wayne in drag: Hit or flop?
The point is: With relatively few exceptions, 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. Or Tom Cruise in roles not molded to his persona (e.g., Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut).
Here’s one example from Hollywood’s studio era: In the 1930s and early 1940s, Clark Gable starred in a series of major hits for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, always playing variations of the same macho ladies’ man. But John M. Stahl’s (romanticized) 1937 historical drama Parnell, featuring Gable as an idealistic Irish politician who ends up dead, turned out to be an embarrassing flop despite the presence of another box office draw, Myrna Loy, as the female lead.
And here’s an example from the late 20th century: During her heyday in the 1990s, Pretty Woman and Sleeping with the Enemy star 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 handicap
Lastly, one must point out that Remember Me and The Runaways – in addition to Little Ashes, The Yellow Handkerchief, and Adventureland – are all low-budget productions without big-studio backing. (Despite Twilight and New Moon, Summit Entertainment can’t be considered a “Hollywood major.”)
And low-budget/indie films – especially foreign ones like Little Ashes – have a tough time going mainstream in the American market unless they have “uplifting” storylines like The Full Monty and Little Miss Sunshine. Or they are cheesy horror flicks abetted by clever, viral marketing campaigns, e.g., The Blair Witch Project and (the Paramount-distributed) Paranormal Activity. Or they get lots of awards season attention, as has recently been the case with Precious and Crazy Heart.
Without any – however distant – Oscar buzz, Bella Swan as a tough (for all purposes, lesbian) rocker and Edward Cullen as a troubled rebel who dies in the September 2001 terrorist attacks are hardly the types of characters to lure Kristen Stewart’s and Robert Pattinson’s respective fan bases into theaters. (About half of New Moon’s initial audience was younger than 21; 80 percent was female.) Or, for that matter, to lure those who deride their work because of their Twilight Saga credentials.
In all, it’s much too early to tell whether Stewart’s and Pattinson’s film careers will fade to black after the Twilight Saga runs its course. But if they find their way – Sean Connery, who became wholly associated with the James Bond franchise, managed to do it after tripping and falling numerous times – they could be around for quite some time.
Who received better reviews?
Now, who came out on top in terms of critical acclaim, Kristen Stewart for The Runaways or Robert Pattinson for Remember Me?
The clear answer is Kristen Stewart, though both Stewart and Pattinson have been commended for taking chances while away from the Twilight Saga.
Kristen Stewart may have made more of an impression on critics because her Joan Jett looks and acts like the exact opposite of her wishy-washy Bella Swan, ever torn between Robert Pattinson’s vampire and Taylor Lautner’s werewolf in the Twilight flicks. Here are a couple of brief samples:
“Stewart, known mainly for mumbling and stumbling through the Twilight movies, is the revelation here,” wrote Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle, while the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert declared himself a new believer that the actress “could handle such a tough-as-nails character” as the punkish computer hacker Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s planned American remake of Niels Arden Oplev’s Swedish thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Not the new James Dean
Robert Pattinson’s more conventional Remember Me rebel was far less well received, with a number of 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.
Depending on release patterns, following The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Kristen Stewart should next be seen in Jake Scott’s psychological drama Welcome to the Rileys (which, like The Runaways, was screened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival), while last month Robert Pattinson began working on Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod’s period drama Bel Ami.
“Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson Box Office” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson Box Office: Who’s Tops?” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about Remember Me, The Runaways, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Robert Pattinson Remember Me image: Myles Aronowitz | Summit Entertainment.
Kristen Stewart and Chris Weitz New Moon image: Kimberley French | Summit Entertainment.
Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg Adventureland movie image: Abbot Genser | Miramax Films.
“Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson Box Office: Who’s Tops?” last updated in October 2022.