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Robert Pattinson's period circus romance Water for Elephants, costarring Reese Witherspoon, exceeded box office expectations this past Easter weekend, earning an estimated $17.5 million from 2,817 locations.
So does this mean Pattinson has a film career outside the successfully popular Twilight film franchise?
That remains to be seen.
Elephants isn't the runaway hit that each Twilight film is and that’s what will lead studios to clamor to hand him more starring roles, casting agencies tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Fans of the vampire saga certainly didn't come out in droves to see his 2010 romantic drama Remember Me or his 2008 Salvador Dali biopic, Little Ashes.
Elephants benefited from Fox’s marketing team, which targeted fans of the Twilight book. (At the film's premiere, representatives from groups like TwilightMOMS were assigned spots on the red carpet, and its site has documented Pattinson's every move in promoting Elephants. Other Twilight fan sites have done the same.)
Fox also wisely played up the love story between Pattinson and Witherspoon, who now will begin promoting Elephants overseas, where it begins rolling out in earnest April 29. (Based on Sara Gruen’s bestselling book, Elephants drew an A- CinemaScore and played heavily to adult women. Females made up 70 percent of the audience, while 70 percent were over the age of 25.) "It is a great number for an adult film," Fox senior vice president of domestic distribution Bert Livingston tells THR. "When a movie shows emotion, that's what draws you in."
But Pattinson may need to think about his next few film roles.
He already has the period piece Bel Ami (which has no release date set) in the works, as well as David Cronenberg's adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel, Cosmopolis. Colin Farrell was originally eyed for the project which centers on a 28-year-old financial wizard and billionaire (Pattinson) as he traverses Manhattan in his stretch limo.
"He's moved on from teenage heartthrob roles," says NYC casting agency owner Donna DeSeta, who has not worked with the actor. "He's certainly made the right career moves. So there is a really good chance his career could go somewhere."
His only hurdle?
"He has a charisma, a presence and obviously can act," says casting director Melissa Braun of Grant Wilfley Casting. "It's just how well he can develop that talent into something that people can see past."
Braun advises Pattinson avoid more romantic lead roles.
She cited Johnny Depp as one actor who has taken on a diverse parts, from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to mobster dramas like Public Enemies.
Says Braun, "If you want to follow the path of Johnny Depp, that's the thing to do."
Pattinson (who just wrapped Breaking Dawn
's final chapter) is aware of his critics. "I always see these things like, 'Can he act or not?,'" he recently told USA Today
. "It's like, I'm nothing like Edward. What do you think I'm doing in that?"
For now, he is going to have a tough time shrugging off the furor from the Twilight franchise (Summit Entertainment is releasing Breaking Dawn, Part 1 this November, but Part 2 will not be released until November 2012).
Would he do a franchise again? Says the actor, "Only if I could have a lot of say in the development of it."