It hasn’t been easy being Julia Robert lately. Shoot, it hasn’t been easy being Julia Roberts for the past decade. Crowned America’s Sweetheart after her breakthrough role in “Pretty Woman” 20 years ago, Roberts had a series of hits in the 90s, but the new century has only been successful for the Oscar winner in the company of other big name stars and ensembles whether it was “Ocean’s Eleven” or “Valentine’s Day.” Her other efforts like “Duplicity,” “Closer” and “Mona Lisa Smile” have been sever disappointments. Well, after this weekend, Roberts is back in the winners circle with “Eat Pray Love.”
The Ryan Murphy directed adaptation of the popular Elizabeth Gilbert novel pulled in $23.7 million for the weekend, Roberts’ biggest opening since “America’s Sweethearts” in 2001. While the book’s audience may have fueled much of the stellar debut, Roberts appeal in the right vehicle might have had just as much to do with it (and her small, but appreciated role in last February’s “Valentine’s Day” might not have hurt either).
Coming in the top spot, however, was Sylvester Stallone’s action epic “The Expendables.” The 80s action flick homage pulled in an impressive $35 million, performing as expected according to pre-release industry polling. Still, that’s hands down Stallone’s biggest opening ever, unless you want to count his supporting role in Robert Rodriguez’s hit family flick “Spy Kids 3D: Game Over.” Whether audiences will continue to flock to “Expendables” once of word of mouth hits though, remains to be seen.
The third slot went to Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s “The Other Guys” which banked another $18 million and crossed the $70 million mark overall. The comedy should outperform Ferrell’s last hit, 2008’s R-rated “Step Brothers” which found just $100 million. The PG-13 rating has certainly helped “The Other Guys” at the box office.
Fourth place went to “Inception” with another $11.3 million and $248.5 million to date. As time goes on, $300 million overall looks like more and more of a possibility for the Christopher Nolan blockbuster.
Disappointing in fifth was Edgar Wright’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” with just $10.5 million. Audiences just didn’t connect with the material for some reason, but the positively reviewed action-action-romance did receive the strongest Cinemascore grades of the weekend with an A-. Universal will have to hope good word of mouth helps fuel a long shelf life, but that may be difficult considering the picture’s Friday to Saturday drop.
Among other releases, “Toy Story 3” hit $400 million and Angelina Jolie’s “Salt” became the third Sony Pictures release of the summer to cross $100 million after “The Karate Kid” and “Grown Ups.”
Next weekend finds a flurry of less impressive summer releases including Jennifer Aniston in “The Switch,” “Nanny McPhee Returns,” “Takers” and “Piranha 3-D.”
Final box office actuals are released on Monday.