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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Runaways

Will audiences ever want to see the 'Twilight' stars do anything else?

March 22, 2010 |  7:08 pm

Tw
If there's one actress who could push a "Behind the Music-"style docudrama about a 1970s all-girl band to the top of the box-office charts, it's Kristen Stewart.

So why couldn't she do it?

"The Runaways," Floria Sigismondi's biopic that, of course, stars Stewart as femme-punk icon Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as her bandmate-rival-lover Cherie Currie, earned an extremely modest $800,000 in its opening weekend. For most limited releases, that number wouldn't be horrible. But the film opened on 244 screens, meaning it averaged a paltry $3,300 per screen. Given the die-hards (or Twi-hards) you'd expect would turn out for a Kristen Stewart debut, those numbers aren't impressive; in fact, they're a lot more punk than glam.

Pundits on Monday had plenty of reasons for the disappointing performance. Certainly the movie's R-rating hurt; younger Stewart fans might have bought tickets had they not been restricted from doing so by the MPAA. (Bob Berney, the head of distributor Apparition, noted that the rating "possibly ke[pt] some of the younger audience away.")

But there may be a deeper lesson here about Stewart: For all her acting versatility, when she strays from her "Twilight" wheelhouse, the fans don't roll with her. That was, after all, also the message some experts gleaned from her first post-"Twilight" movie, "Adventureland," which grossed just $16 million domestically despite getting some marketing play as a Stewart vehicle (and not three months after "Twilight" blew off the box-office doors). It's a lesson that's especially pointed with "Runaways" because Stewart, in inhabiting the role of Joan Jett, is in many ways picking up where Bella Swan left off. She's playing the moody rebel in both, yet fans apparently only want to see her playing a certain kind of moody rebel.

A similar point could be inferred from Stewart's "Twilight' co-star Robert Pattinson, who just last week released his first mainstream movie in which he doesn't play a vampire. With the romantic drama "Remember Me," Pattinson was taking on a genre even more difficult than period music-themed biopics, but, like Stewart, was also echoing parts of his "Twilight" performance (the tortured-lover part).

That should have locked up a chunk of his fan base.  But the movie wound up grossing $14 million in its first two weeks -- a (slightly) more impressive number than "Runaways" until you realize it opened on more than 2,000 screens. Its per-screen opening of $3,600, it turns out, mirrors Stewart's own lackluster weekend.

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Preview review: Can 'Twilight' star Kristen Stewart use 'The Runaways' to become a serious actress?

March 5, 2010 |  2:30 pm

MV5BMTA2NzY5NTg2MjNeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDYzODY2MDM@._V1._SX271_SY400_ Only one week after her "Twilight" co-star Robert Pattinson will attempt to show off his more serious acting chops in "Remember Me," Kristen Stewart will also stray from the world of vampires with "The Runaways."

In the film, which comes out March 19, Stewart plays Joan Jett while Dakota Fanning plays Cherie Currie, two founding members of the influential all-girl '70's band the Runaways. As my colleague Chris Lee wrote before the movie premiered at Sundance in January, the movie is based on the real-life band, who "between the years 1975 and '79 ... packed shows from coast to coast, toured the world and racked up hits before self-immolating in a blaze of drugs, jealousies and in-fighting."

Judging by the newly released trailer, which is narrated by Fanning's character, the movie feels almost like a grittier "Almost Famous." Currie, with her blond feathered hair, comes off as impressionable and wide-eyed, following Jett's bad-girl lead into the world of rock n' roll. Both are dressed in awesome '70s garb: studded leather jackets, hot pink lipstick and high-waisted jeans.

Interestingly, there are also no big hints in the trailer to the much-hyped sapphic romance between the characters.

Watch the trailer and vote in our poll to share your thoughts: Will Stewart ever be able to break free of her iconic Bella Swan role?

Surprisingly, it's not Stewart but Fanning who seems to shine in the film. Fanning is known for her more innocent roles in "I Am Sam" and "The Secret Life of Bees," but we were surprised by how much we bought Currie's penchant for hard partying. Stewart, meanwhile, seems to be channeling the persona the public has assigned to her: a surly, rebellious teen who wants to do things her own way.  The question, of course, is whether she has the versatility to pull off roles that go beyond that of the mopey Bella Swan  ingenue in "Twilight" and "New Moon." Despite the glimmers of possibility she flashed in "Adventureland," from the bits we've see in this trailer, we have our doubts.

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Dakota Fanning, left, and Kristen Stewart in "The Runaways." Credit: Apparition.


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