Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Julia Roberts: America’s 1990s Sweetheart Losing Her Audience


Julia Roberts? She was so BIG in the 1990s, nothing could stop her.

But in 2010, “Eat Pray Love” now dribbles to $80 million domestic box office, with the film playing in just a few theaters so Columbia Pictures can hit a round number.

Around the world, “EPL” has $40 million banked. It’s not so much considering the international locales. In Italy the movie did $4 million. It’s unclear whether there are movie theatres in Nepal. So far, there’s been no release in India, where Julia’s character spends time, or Australia, where at least people speak English.

When the expenses are totaled up, “EPL” should look pretty awful on paper. The official line was a $60 million budget, but with Javier Bardem and James Franco, all the locations and promotional stuff around the world, $100 million won’t seem far fetched. And Julia probably took $15 million off the top.

But with all the talk recently of Renee Zellweger being in trouble (nonsense, I say), it’s Roberts who’s really at a crossroads. Since “Erin Brockovich” in 2000, Roberts has not “opened” a major film that was hung on her. All of her $100 million plus films have been ensemble pieces like the “Ocean’s” movies or “Valentine’s Day.”

But “Duplicity” last year was a bust. So were “Charlie Wilson’s War” and “Closer.”

The big era of Julia: the late 1990s, when “Runaway Bride,” “Step Mom,” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” along with “Brockovich” were the tent poles in an amazing run.

But when the heat is gone, it’s gone. And it does seem like Roberts’ choices of material since that time has left her cold. The problem: pedestrian roles, with no focus or vision that the audience understands. This is in direct contrast to Sandra Bullock, who’s been amazing (with lots of help of course) keeping her eye on the ball.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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