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Julia Roberts: Back on Top

by Anne Thompson
August 16, 2010 10:01 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

I am mystified by anyone who doesn't think that Julia Roberts knocked one out of the box office park with Eat Pray Love this weekend. It was her best opening since America's Sweethearts: her fans welcomed her back with open arms. (Of course the movie will have to continue to chug along from here, on a global scale, to be truly successful.) Here's a sampling of my latest Career Watch column.

When you open a female-skewing picture like 'Eat Pray Love' to the tune of $23.7 million despite often savage reviews, you are clearly a star. And Julia Roberts -- the most successful actress of all time, with more than $2.4 billion in U.S. ticket sales -- practically defines the term. Still, until this past weekend, with no starring-role blockbusters since 2000's 'Erin Brockovich,' the 42-year-old actress appeared to have reached a career plateau. Luckily, she is reportedly game for more success: ''I haven't done a main part in a movie in a long time," she told Reuters recently, "and I wondered if that kind of workload would still be interesting to me, and I was very happy at the end of this that I felt incredibly fulfilled as a creative person.'' Could it be that Julia Roberts is back?
Latest Misfire: After six years of voice performances ('Charlotte's Web') and supporting roles ('Valentine's Day,' 'Charlie Wilson's War,' 'Closer',' 'Oceans Twelve') -- which came while she was happily raising three young kids with husband Danny Moder -- Roberts returned to her first starring role since 'Mona Lisa Smile' with 2009's 'Duplicity.' The well-reviewed heist thriller/romance, co-starring Clive Owen, may have been too smart for the room: It tallied just $81 million worldwide.

Next Step: Roberts enjoys acting with her friends, including 'Charlie Wilson's War' star Tom Hanks, who is also directing her in the upcoming comedy drama 'Larry Crowne,' alongside Bryan Cranston and Taraji P. Henson. Other projects Roberts is reportedly considering: 'Our Wild Life,' about a Kenyan animal conservationist; the Lolly Winston adultery novel 'Happiness Sold Separately'; and Mike Binder's version of the novel 'The Friday Night Knitting Club.' She's also developing a number of projects to possibly produce or star in, including 'Hothouse Flowers,' based on Margot Berwin novel about a divorced advertising exec who flees her life in Manhattan for an unplanned adventure. Sounds familiar.

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More: Career Watch


  • harold | November 22, 2010 3:08 AMReply

    'Eat Pray Love' is revolting garbage. I seriously thought about asking for a refund at the cinema.

  • Brian | August 18, 2010 5:36 AMReply

    Eric Roberts (THE EXPENDABLES) beat out his sister at the boxoffice. First time THAT's happened. I wonder if Emma Roberts was as happy as her dad was or sympathized with Aunt Julia.

  • Doris Toumarkine | August 18, 2010 4:54 AMReply

    "Her best opening"? I'd thank studio marketing but not Roberts for a real stinker of a film.

  • bacio | August 17, 2010 10:50 AMReply

    It´s a weird place, this, the only place on the world wide web where no Julia hater has appeared yet to say something completely irrelevant but hateful about J. Rob. and I am not a hater either! Love her, actually.

    I hoped EPL would do better, but given the bad reviews and the fact that these are usually quite important for older folks, I think 23 M $ is a testament to Julia´s star power.

  • Linda | August 17, 2010 8:19 AMReply

    I'm so happy for her! She's great and she deserves to be back on top! It is amazing that she opened this movie to 23 million. Why?

    1. It is a drama (not a comedy or an action film which tend to do much better than dramas). Dramas almost never open well.

    2. It caters almost exclusively to an older female audience (it's a one quadrant film, while almost all other films - even romantic comedies - appeal to 2 or 3 demographics). Teens, men, and children can't relate to a woman's journey of self-discovery so they likely stayed away, but she opened the film strong anyway.

    3. It is high time a real movie star was back on top, not some fake pseudo celeb like those Jersey Shore kids or those Housewives or Heidi and Spencer

  • cate | August 17, 2010 7:49 AMReply

    i'm glad she's back were she belong. go julia!

  • jolly | August 17, 2010 7:08 AMReply

    love julia so happy she made films again. she's the best.

  • myles | August 16, 2010 12:23 PMReply

    yay for julia!!! i do love epl - her best role/performance since her oscar win for erin brockovich.

  • alfa | August 16, 2010 12:11 PMReply

    totally agree with you. so happy she's definitely back.can't wait for her next film with tom hanks and her succeeding film ventures.

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