Robert Pattinson, after years of puckering his sparkling vampire lips and gaining female fans with every perky strand of his swoopy hair in the Twilight films, has finally graduated with alumni cred at the box office, showing he has what it takes to draw in moviegoers beyond the romantic realm of blood-lusty (and just lusty) Edward and Bella.
Pattinson’s whoozy, philosophy-laden pairing with director David Cronenberg, Cosmopolis, racked up a solid $70,339 in three theaters this past Friday through Sunday, when it opened in tightly limited release domestically, according to box office tracker Hollywood.com. The film, about Pattinson as a disillusioned, overly sexed billionaire making his way across Manhattan to get a haircut, has made roughly $266,900 in North America, including theatrical screenings in Canada. Next weekend the film jumps into nationwide limited release in 60 theaters across the U.S., said Dylan Wiley, vice president of theatrical marketing and distribution for the movie’s distributor Entertainment One Films U.S.
“Rob, with this performance, has shown there is more to him than just Twilight,” Wiley tells EW. “This is a very serious actor playing a very serious role with a very serious filmmaker.”
Others agree – somewhat.
While EW’s review — similar to other critical takes — panned the film itself as flat and robotic, it noted that Pattinson delivers his purposely emotionless role with “rhythmic confidence.” The New York Times said Pattinson “made a fine member of the Cronenbergian walking dead, with a glacial, blank beauty.”
Last year’s traveling circus romance Water for Elephants with Pattinson and blondie Reese Witherspoon ranked No. 3 at the box office in more than 2,800 theaters its opening weekend, making $16.8 million at the box office, a far cry from the latest Twilight installment, last year’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, which reaped $138 million during its opening weekend, in 4,061 theaters. But Pattinson didn’t fully carry Water for Elephants — Witherspoon did.
In Cosmopolis, he’s the main star, going toe-to-toe with the likes of heavy hitters Paul Giamatti and Juliette Binoche, with the oeuvre of Cronenberg (The Naked Lunch, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method) pounding behind him. As Wiley notes, Pattinson’s also in every single scene.
Plus his theater-going fans are growing older. That shrieking TwiHard tween with her tattered copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight book in hand at 2008’s first film premiere? She’s older now, and maybe, just maybe, her tastes have skewed as well.
“The theatrical audience in general ages up every year. When you think about Rob’s fans, and Twilight’s fans, you think of 13-year-old girls. But Rob’s fans now are five years older,” says Wiley.
Box office experts also see some hope in Pattinson, a relatively shy, musically inclined intellectual sort, compared to other Twilight graduates (Taylor Lautner, anyone?).
“Perhaps of all the Twilight folks, he’s the one, with this movie, who has gained credibility,” says Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com. “His personal life has not been great, but his acting life is just beginning. I think Pattinson has a lot of gravitas, and that translates on screen.”
Mostly, to straddle the hurdles of both mega movie franchise fame and artsy indie flick gusto at the box office, he needs guys to go out and watch him too, not just women.
That may or may not happen with upcoming films such as the Werner Herzog-directed Queen of the Desert, in which he’ll play T.E. Lawrence — Lawrence of Arabia — alongside Naomi Watts. There’s always The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the franchise’s fifth and last installment, set to premiere in November.
“The challenge for Pattinson is winning over the male fans, who stayed away from the Twilight films,” says Dergarabedian. “I think he can do it… If he were to work with a [Quentin] Tarantino or [Steven] Spielberg, who have that kind of credibility themselves, he’ll gain credibility. He’s still pretty young, and has time to build his career. He may be able to bounce between the big budget films and independently minded films. Look at Jeremy Renner.”