Much was made earlier this year about whether or not Ryan Reynolds was a movie star. Never mind that under the technical definition of the term, he is one (Reynolds is an actor who stars in movies): the handsome and well-liked Canadian was in position to vault on the A-list with high-profile releases 'Green Lantern' and 'The Change-Up.' Unfortunately, that didn't happen as planned: both films underperformed financially and critically, and Reynolds is now viewed by some as damaged goods. Still, for as disappointing as the box office results were for Reynolds, he can hold his head high in one aspect: both opened to much-larger numbers than 'Abduction.' Which raises the question: Are Taylor Lautner and his 'Twilight' cohorts actually movie stars?
The short answer is yes. Obviously. (See: they are actors who appear in movies.) The longer answer is... probably? The last three wide releases that heavily featured a member of the trio in a starring role opened to $11.2 million ('Abduction'), $16.8 million ('Water for Elephants') and $5.7 million ('Adventureland'), respectively. Added to together, the total basically accounts for half of the three-day opening for 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' ($64.8 million). It's still entirely too early to write-off the non-'Twilight' drawing power of Lautner, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart -- combined, their post-'Twilight' films can be counted on two hands -- but it's clear Twi-hards won't follow Bella, Edward and Jacob to theaters like lemmings over the cliff.
That said, there is hope. Of the three, Stewart seems poised to maintain a significant box office presence after 'Breaking Dawn Part 2' fades into memory, if only because she has another franchise ready to take 'Twilight's' place: 'Snow White and the Huntsman,' which Universal is releasing to high hopes next summer. (The film also co-stars Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth.) Whether or not Stewart wants to be a major A-list actress remains to be seen: she has been famously awkward and unsure about her 'Twilight' fame and seems more content to appear in small films like 'Adventureland,' 'The Runaways' and the upcoming 'On the Road' than mainstream romcoms and female action vehicles -- the types of movies that make actors "traditional" stars.
The same observation could be made about her onscreen future baby daddy, R-Pattz. Pattinson's only two upcoming films besides 'Breaking Dawn' are 'Bel Ami,' a French period piece, and 'Cosmopolis,' the David Cronenberg-directed adaptation of Don DeLillo's famed novel. Not exactly 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon.' (Pattinson was rumored for the Warner Bros. adaptation of 'Akira,' but those reports never came to fruition and the project remains in flux.)
That leaves Lautner as potentially the series' only hope at a true movie star. Which is what makes the opening of 'Abduction' sorta disconcerting: the film couldn't even top the three-day total of 'The Change-Up,' a bomb that cemented Reynolds' fate as a 2011 disappointment. There are reasons 'Abduction' didn't connect the way even 'Water for Elephants' did -- it opened against another action film, 'Killer Elite,' and fought with 'The Lion King' and 'Dolphin Tale' for the eyeballs of young Twi-hards; Lionsgate was reportedly out-spent almost four-to-one by Sony and Warner Bros. in marketing this weekend -- but an $11.2 million start isn't the type of statement Team Taylor wanted to make to the world. The good news is that 'Abduction' was cheap to produce and looks poised to clean-up around the world: the film topped the box office in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia. Lautner also acted the part of a movie star in the lead-up to release, saying all the right things in press interviews and coming across as a young adult who really embraced his burgeoning fame. He'll get other chances to prove his A-list bona fides in the near future.
Of course, wanting fame and achieving it are two different animals. Right now, Lautner is famous for his attachment to 'Twilight' (you won't see many people start calling themselves 'Ab'-hards). To paraphrase the great Britney Spears: he's not yet a movie star, not yet a washout. Neither are Pattinson and Stewart. Thankfully, there's still some time to make it happen; after all, 'Breaking Dawn Part 2' doesn't come out until 2012. The clock is ticking... slowly.
Top Photo: Matt Sayles/AP
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