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

March 22, 2010 |  7:08 pm

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.

Stewart's and Pattinson's careers are evolving, and both will probably take on a lot more roles by the time all is said and done. It's also worth pointing out that neither saw their recent releases get the full marketing press -- Apparition is an indie label, and Summit, despite some TV and outdoor spending, chose its spots carefully on the lower-budget drama.

Still, the conventional wisdom is that "Twilight" marks the kind of all-consuming phenomenon that can mint stars who, with their reputations solidified, then stalk off to other movies and take their audiences with them. But the last two weeks prove otherwise.

Which brings us to the third leg in the "Twilight" tripod: Taylor Lautner, arguably as hot now as Pattinson was after the first film (if not hotter), has over the past few months booked more movies than a groupie takes cellphone pictures; he's signed on for action-adventures such as Paramount's "Stretch Armstrong" and Lionsgate's "Bourne"-like "Abduction."

Those movies sit in a far more commercial realm, but if Lautner is equally ill-equipped to bring his "Twilight" fan base within him, the career damage could run deeper. It's one thing to take on a small romantic drama with Emilie de Ravin and go out meekly -- it's another to take on a big-budget franchise based on a Hasbro action figure. Suddenly splitting that last "Twilight" movie into two doesn't seem like such a bad career move.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "The Twilight Saga: New Moon.'"Credit: Kimberley French / Summit Entertainment

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The Runways is a small indie movie with very limited budget for advertising. Actually in NY I have seen only 2 posters. Seems nobody apart from Twilight fans and a few musicians know about a film. It is hard to sell the film especially if it is not wildly available to view! Putting it into the theatre a month after premiers in some cities is useless. By this time I will have a boot legged copy on the corner of Fulton street. They have it already.
The Runaways would go directly to DVD if not for Dakota and Kristen. Actually Dakota plays the main role, not Kristen.
The movie itself is a piece of art. Floria Sigimondi is a genius and so is the director of photography. You are SEDUCED by their work. IT shockingly beautiful social drama not just the music film with girly kissing scene. Mostly it is R rate that kills the fan base. I have witness a group of 4 girl denies entry to the theater. The film plays like an education material for teen girls and they should be allowed to see it. At least 15 years old.
The Runaways remind me about FOREST GUMP WITH A TOUCH OD PULP FICTION. It is very artistic movie. I have not read any negative opinion of someone that has seen the film.
Oh, by the way, The Hurt Locker scored only $16 all together and is on DVD already. Please, please, see the movies BEFORE you reviewing them. Let’s not see art through dollars and cents, that is not a circus. If that was a case mobs (AKA fans of Bounty Hunter- like movies) would close The Metropolitan Opera and all the philharmonics. The do not run much profit.

I am an adult Twilight advocate. I loved both the books and the movies so I should probably start my comment with that disclosure. Both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are, in my opinion, excellent actors. Twilight is a phenomenon that no one predicted. It is difficult to say why it struck a place in the heart of so many people but it was largely due to the performances of these two extraordinarily likeable young actors that the movies were so successful. The legions of fans of the books could just as easily have turned up their noses at the movies if the actors did not portray the characters so beautifully. That having been said, both Robert and Kristen did not play it safe with there next films. They did not pander to the same audience. They appear to be more interested in becoming credible excellent actors rather than simply celebrities. Neither Remember Me, which was actually a beautifully crafted story with excellent acting throughout, or the Runaways were suitable for the majority of the Twilight audience. Tyler Hawkins is a college student and the movie is a drama dealing with suicide, violent death, and an American disaster. It is not a sweet love story. It is a tragedy. The Runaways is gritty and raw and depicts the hard core life of female rock stars in the day when they were a novelty. Both actors are becoming involved in projects that allow them to stretch and grow as professionals. If these two small budget, independent films do nothing more than recoup their budget with some profit and demonstrate their acting chops outside of the Twilight franchise they will be successful for both Robert and Kristen. Adult Twilight fans will love both of these films, drawn in by Robert and Kristen, they will appreciate the films themselves. A true test of your opening question cannot be answered by films that will not attract the main demographic of the Twilight audience. If they starred in another romantic teen movie, I believe they would attract the same crowd outside of the franchise.

Why anyone thought the majority of the Twilight fanbase would show up for a serious, very dark drama even if it was starring Pattinson is beyond me. It was the media and his fans that kept building this little film up into something it isn't. It was never supposed to bring in huge numbers and had it starred anyone else, do you think it would have even brought down $14 million in two weeks?

This was an arthouse film dressed up in commercial clothing that the media made it wear. Pattinson opened it to $8.1 million and that's a testament to the fans he DOES have.

Add in Summit's lousy marketing plan targeting teeny boppers instead of adults and well, you know what happened. Seeing as the film only cost $14-16 million and Summit already covered 2/3 of that in foreign pre-sales, I don't think they're crying. And Pattinson shouldn't be. Jude Law just opened a $32million dollar film to only $6 million. Or how about when Matt Damon could only open the Informant to $10 million? Was that trotted out all over the media as a huge flop? Or Tobey Maguire, Jake G and Natalie Portman (three big name stars) and the movie Brothers that opened to just $9.5 million?

Those are all much bigger budget, better marketed films and they were nothing to write home about but Pattinson's film is a step away from seeing black after two weeks and it seems the media thinks he's a dismal failure.

Pattinson brought in 8.1 million in a film trashed by critics, really hard to sell and in a genre that's famous for numbers that are difficult to come by. How is this some monumental flop? Oh right...it ISN'T.

Teens are fickle as hell. They're not going to pay to watch this guy in serious drama no matter how much they love him as Edward. I'm not sure why anyone thought that would happen.

It doesn't seem he wants to make kid movies anyway...

Next he has Bel Ami with Kristin Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman and Christina Ricci. Then Water for Elephants with Christoph Waltz and Witherspoon. And apparently he's booked for quite a while after that. Pattinson seems to be doing fine.

As for Stewart, if Pattinson's film had opened in 244 theaters to that paltry PTA, the press would scream "unmitigated disaster." I think Stewart has a lot more to worry about Box office-wise than Robert Pattinson. I highly doubt she could have opened a film to $8.1 million even with her film (the Runaways) that's a far easier sell than Remember Me ever was.

Of course we want to see them in other roles BUT with carefully selected scripts and co-stars please. I read that Kristen will star in Backwoods with Julienne Moore and *gasp!* Zac Efron? Please say it isn't so. Robert goes from Uma Thurman (Bel Ami), Reese Witherspoon (Water for Elephants) and Rachel Weisz (Unbound Captives). I have nothing against Efron but come on, you can do better than that girl! Surely, you can't be that bored?

She is not a good actress, and was joan jett really that big?? i am almost 40, love all types of music, and really can only name 1 joan jett song. why would anyone think that stewart fans would care to see her in this movie?? what 13 year old knows who jj is, and what 30-40 year old cares

LOVED LOVED LOVED the Runaways! I saw it twice over the weekend but I agree that the typical Twilight teenage fan will not see this movie. Either because they can't get in because of the R rating or because it is not relevant to them. I am a 43 year old Kristen fan and proud to admit it. I have been following her career since Panic Room. I am also a Joan Jett fan and when I saw that Kristen was going to portray her I was hooked. Kristen did a fantastic job in this movie. Hell, Kristen is Joan Jett in this movie. It is amazing the resemblance not only physically but spiritually as well. I am telling everyone to go see The Runaways. You will not regret it.

I think Kristen Stewart almost carried the new moon single-handedly. She's in almost every scene throughout the movie, whereas Taylor and Rob were only pieces of it. I tend to think the phenomenon is not primarily driven by the actors, but they all looking good does add to the flame.
The problem with Kristen's "adventureland" and "runaways" is simply because she's not the main charater! Give her a film with a full role and let's see if she opens boxoffice! She needs to choose her project more carefully now that she's in the limelight, if she continues to do the low budget and side roles, she will not be able to prove her star power and subsequently the good scripts will not be sent to her. Look at Julia Roberts, how many good roles were sent to her before she stupidly (or not) turned down. It's important now to prove you can do it outside of Twilight. I'm a big fan of Kstew and would like to see her do well, and for a long time.

I have seen almost every film that Rob Pattinson has made and I think there is a wealth of talent there. Remember Me was a beautiful and touching film and I really think that those who don't see the movie are missing something wonderful.

I would beg to defer with Connor because The Runaways is about an all girl rock band. And Remember Me is a rebel without a cause type deal. So men and women are going to see Remember Me along with the teeny teens, while mostly adult music connoisseurs and people that actually remember The Runaways will see Kristen's Movie. And while Kristen's movies has better reviews than Rob's, it grossed less totally based on the demographic and lousy marketing. I have't seen any previews on TV commercials, like I've seen for Remember Me.

I would love to see the Runaways, but due to the limited release, cannot at this point ... In my opinion, this limited release is crazy because, it to a certain extent negates all the press and interviews the actors et al have done thus far...most people will forget about the complete nationwide opening and then remember sometime around the dvd release date. As for remember me, I, like my friends, are waiting for this weekend...we are trying to avoid his insane fans...those twihards are crazy!

The Runaways cost under $1omil to make. They will make money on it.
I saw the movie and it was awesome. i don't think they were ever thinking about Twilight while they were making it. In fact, I commend Kristen (and Dakota) for taking on such challenging roles at such an early stage of their career.
They are clearly getting recognized for it. Everyone has been writing about this movie for months.
And everyone will probably eventually end up seeing it. This will have legs for a long, long time. The critics loved it and the word of mouth is very positive.
a lot of their fans are dying to see it and too young to get in to the theater right now.

I think Kristen and Rob are fine. Why compare it to Twilight ? Twilight is something really special to the fans. And to be honest if there is a movie that does appeal to them then they'll see it. I think when they pick movies that appeals to the wider audience it will do well but both of those movies were indie and the Runaways hasn't even hit nationwide yet. But when Kristen and Rob continue to do other projects I think their status will grow outside Twilight but Twilight only based fans sometimes only like Twilight and maybe prefer other actors but JUST LEAVE THEM ALONE and wait. But I think they'll be fine and it's sad we have to base money on their performances but that's hollywood. Not all actors and movies have great numbers all the time.

What is especially sad is that Remember Me was a really good movie. Everyone I know was favorably impressed with the storyline, acting and writing. It just didn't draw the young teens who make up a large part of Robert Pattinson's fan following. It is too bad that the larger media gave it mixed reviews based on their, in my opinion, erroneous judgements about the ending, because many of the smaller newspapers and college papers gave it very good reviews. Everyone I know who saw it found this film to be engrossing and it provided a lot to mull over afterwards. I don't think one can ask more than that of any movie. I suggest that everyone go and see it. You won't be sorry.

all these movies should have done better, no excuses, lot of entertainment sites including e-news and ew gave these 2 movies tons of free press (actually overkill), but it seemed to do nothing for the box office, all these actors overexposed too

Pattinson's future film Water for Elephants looks the perfect way forward. A great script based on a beloved book. Its a fantastic adventure story. Its all well and good doing tiny films like Remember Me with a subject matter that appeals to a tiny minority but Pattinson needs to vary that with bigger films. Remember me did ok considering the end of the film was given away and the press over reacted to the 911 end but it would have been wiser for Pattinson to take on a film that at least pandered slightly to his fanbase. I dont get why he hasnt looked for a musical film as his voice and musical skills are fantastic and beloved by many. Hopefully we'll see him take on a film that appeals to men too as he's far more laddish than the actors in Hollywood that get male support. Most of them are pampared poodles. Pattinson has the comic timing and down to earthness that guys would like.

The young teens have moved on from Lautner to Justin Bieber. Producers have misjudged his appeal. He doesnt have the popularity of Stewart and Pattinson.

RM was a low budget film with limited pr and Pattinson did it in the two months break he had between twilight films. It was never meant to be a big box office film. But it was useful to expose him to a new audience. If you check feedback on film sites people love the film. Infact a number of men seem to love the film and Pattinson's performance. Its all about small steps. Pattinson's fanbase is a lot older's and more loyal than Lautner's fickle groupies. If studios have hired Lautner to open bigger budget films, based on the success of Twilight they might be a bit nervous now.

Pattinson's doing the right thing picking Water for Elephants . Thats a great role for him and the book is loved by a lot of people. He does need to take on a graphic novel role though. Something to show his lighter side. He has a gift for comedy. Then there's that wonderful singing voice of his and his superb piano and guitar playing. That surely must be tapped into one day for a film.

Depp didnt get bankable until he did Pirates and Pattinson needs another iconic character to dull the shine of Edward Cullen.

Why is Remember me being spun into a flop by media outlets when its not. Do some of Summits studio competitors own some of these media outlets? There are huge flops out there with big movie stars e.g Mat Damon 's had a number of flops back to back but has had an easy ride from the press. Then there's Jude Law's latest.

The message from Connor makes so much sense. Well said.

I for one love the films Pattinson has lined up. I wish he hadnt made it harder for himself pr wise by doing Remember me but I admire his loyalty to the producer and director by sticking with it once he got more famous. He could so easily have dropped it and picked a bigger bucks film. I'd love to see him play Jay Gatsby in the new remake of the book.

I would have totally gone but the movie didn't open anywhere close to where I live. :(
I think this article is saying too much for only having opened in limited release.
And of course I want to see other movies of theirs besides twilight! I mean, I've loved kristen's movies for like ever, the funny thing was, I just didn't know it was her. :p

I loved 'Remember Me' and I am totally looking forward to 'The Runaways'.

Just saw this article posted on IMDb and its one of many similar articles. I'm bemused why the focus isnt on bigger films flopping like Mat Damon's last Green Zone.

Remember Me did decently considering its theme and controversial ending. It will probably take a few more films to remove the taint of the Twilight franchise. Pattinson's picking great roles in Georges Duroy and Jacob in Water for Elephants so as a fan thats all I can ask for.

You;d think Remember Me had a 100 million budget based on the way its getting analyzed to death by the press. It just goes to show that Pattinson's name and Stewart's generates the hits on these sites.

As Nikki Finke said:

"This drama was always going to be a small film, even with Twilight Saga's Robert Pattinson starring. Besides, Summit Entertainment spent only $16M to make it and then covered 2/3s of the budget with foreign pre-sales. "

Part of me wishes Pattinson had picked a more commercial venture so that he didnt set himself up for a fall in his way. He made it easy for scummy sites to have a go. Perhaps this is a lesson he needed to learn.But I admire him for not being a gutless wonder like so many Hollywood actors. He's an actor I dont mind spending time supporting.

Genius comment posted about this article on IMDB:-

"I need an eye doctor. After reading the last bit about Taylor, my eyes rolled so far back in my head and have not returned."

I think a lot of it has to do with how the film is marketed, and the fact that these actors are already associated with film that has a huge following with many believing the the actors' new roles, especially in the case of Mr. Pattinson, are also the same teen role as in twilight. I took a friend who never saw twilight but who enjoyed Remember Me, a movie that never touch her radar until I took her. Another friend, who is also a sag member, never considered going until I spoke to her about it and now she doesn't want me to say anything more until she sees it herself. Perhaps a lot of Mr. Pattinson's fans are not ready to see him with another actress with many of the blogs discussing scenes as such. I think if they chance going to see it then they will be very surprise. The film as a lot to say in regard to a life's lesson and that should have been the focus of it. Mr. Pattinson's role aided in bring that lesson through which IMO he did. His fans should get used to him in new and diverse roles because this actor has a lot to offer the same for Ms. Stewart.

i'm not going to try to figure out why people don't come to Remember Me. My answer to your question though is that I very much want to see Robert Pattinson in other roles. I can't understand why others don't. I'm so afraid he won't succeed and then we won't be able to see him anymore except just to watch the few little things he has done over and over. I think he's very interesting and unusual and very much enjoy how he does things. His interviews are interesting and funny. He maybe should do comedy because he's a natural. and, as others have said here, other "stars" have small movies that have similar results as this one and aren't sunk. Please give him a chance (Stewart, too, though I don't think the burden on her is as heavy).

As one blogger said "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 and so would John Wayne as a screaming drag queen."

Pattinson needs to have a better advice on how to develop his career. By all means do the indie films in between the blockbusters but do indie films that have a slightly better chance of appealing to people.

Pattinson was a little arrogant in thinking that such a dour badly scripted film would attract the fans. Some people may say he didnt expect his fanbase to see the fim but Ive read enough articles from him to know he was worried. Summit were silly to indulge him in this way and I hope he's learnt his lesson. He isnt necessarily the best judge of scripts or whats good for him career wise. Summit need to work with Pattinson to bring a big budget film to the screen. One that doesnt require him to mope or brood. How about Pompei based on Robert Harris' book. The role of the roman engineer would be ideal.

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