Is ‘Duplicity’ Going to Test the Star Power of Julia Roberts?

I saw Duplicity starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen on Monday night and while I am not going to slather it the way Variety did (superior to Michael Clayton?), I will say it is a pretty good flick and a fair amount of fun to watch. However, it appears this is much more than just another movie as Steven Zeitchik at The Hollywood Reporter is saying it is going to “test Julia Roberts’ star power” and “observers will be watching film’s performance closely.”

Zeitchik quotes what he refers to as a “top industryite” who said, “If (Duplicity) does well, everyone will say, ‘Julia’s back.’ If it doesn’t, then I guess she’ll be where everyone else is.” Ouch, “where everyone else is”? Not sure who that is insulting or even if it is insulting, but it sounds like a slap in the face to someone.

When I originally saw Zeitchik’s headline I thought it sounded ridiculous to think of Duplicity as anything more than just another movie even though it does star Julia Roberts (a one-time box-office gold mine) and Clive Owen (whom I can’t really decide what kind of crowd he draws). However, after a little thought I guess this way of looking at Roberts and this film is spot on.

Julia became a box-office draw in the ’90s and no matter what you put her in it was going to make money, as I detailed when I asked “Who’s the Next Big Female Movie Star?” I guess I should have also asked, “Is Julia Roberts still a big female movie star?”

If Roberts were still a star Duplicity would do gang busters even though it is a new genre of sorts for Roberts, since that is exactly what determines a star and what stars do — they sell movies on their name no matter the genre. Whether Will Smith is starring in a romantic comedy or battling infected humans the audiences show up. Will Julia have the same success?

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