Have You Heard about ‘Eat Pray Love’?

Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem in Eat Pray Love
Photo: Columbia Pictures

I was updating the weekend box-office figures from estimates to results while at the same time taking a look at this coming weekend’s releases and trying to gauge what films will do what kind of business. Looking over the list I began to notice one film doesn’t seem to have the same presence as the others… at least not that I have seen.

I’ve already seen Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and can report back that it is phenomenally entertaining. I saw The Expendables just last night and had fun with it, though I’m not entirely sure how much fun just yet. Then there’s Eat Pray Love, a little film starring someone named Julia Roberts and directed by that chap behind some TV show called “nip/tuck” and another you may have heard of called “Glee”. Ringing any bells? If so, did you know Eat Pray Love is coming out this weekend?

Okay, perhaps the regular readership of a movie news website isn’t the best audience to ask when it comes to wondering if you knew a movie was coming out in four days. I’m sure you are fully aware (not that Columbia did any advertising around these parts… shame!) But as I was trying to come up with some kind of prediction for this weekend’s box-office results I started to wonder just what should I compare Eat Pray Love to? Under the Tuscan Sun? Duplicity? Leap Year? I can tell you this, no matter what I do I can’t find a movie to compare it to that tells me this film will make over $18 million this weekend.

Next I started to wonder what kind of awareness there was for the film? I mean, Julia and author Elizabeth Gilbert were on Oprah, but so was Nicole Kidman for Australia and the entire cast of Nine and we know how that turned out. And I’m not the only one wondering about this. Guy Lodge over at In Contention is sharing the same wavelength (albeit an ocean away) and wondering the same things.

A couple of weekends ago Fox’s Ramona and Beezus hit theaters and people were wondering where the marketing was. I personally assumed the film was being marketed in corners I didn’t often visit. Can the same thing be said for Eat Pray Love? Are Lifetime and the Oxygen channel running trailers for this thing nonstop? Is there any kind of online presence you’ve noticed? Demographics for RopeofSilicon tell me I’ve got a pretty good ratio of male-to-female readers… nearly 50/50 in fact and there hasn’t been an ounce of marketing around these parts. Perhaps a balanced group of avid moviegoers aren’t of much concern… too bad for you.

I know Cost Plus World Market has designated Eat Pray Love sections in their store. Julia was on Good Morning America (video right) and stopped by “Live with Regis and Kelly” while Gilbert was profiled on “Nightline”. Roberts is on the September cover of ELLE, discussed her ten pound weight gain with CBS News and was on David Letterman on August 5. The New York Daily News did a piece saying the movie sheds light on shopping in Delhi and Brooks Barnes did a profile on director Ryan Murphy at the New York Times.

That’s really about all I can find in terms of legit media appearances, but it seems to me merchandising is the real name of this game.

The Home Shopping Network is taking the opportunity to sell women stuff they don’t need, while fashion designer Sue Wong is launching a new clothing line surrounding the film. Something called SVNGR does something I can’t quite find the attention span to care about and then Dogeared Jewelry finds a way to sell women even more stuff. Borders is giving it some love and if you have any last minute travel plans, STA Travel has you covered. Looking at this lot, does this sell the movie or a bunch of products?

Another question would be to wonder where are the early reviews or any kind of buzz whatsoever? One could say Lionsgate and Universal are getting early word out on Expendables and Scott Pilgrim because they are going up against America’s sweetheart this weekend, but here in Seattle we are finally seeing Eat Pray Love tonight (8/10), only 24 hours before the Wednesday deadline for dailies. Is this a sign of concern or one of confidence? Does Sony think they have this one in the bag?

I’m curious to find out just what we’re dealing with and really hope for the best. Personally I enjoy Roberts as well as the foreign road trip, looking for love kind of films despite how ridiculous they all are. However, knowing the film is based on a bestselling book, I’m surprised the only two women I’ve discussed the film with that also read the book, hated the book and have no intention of seeing the movie. Considering the aim here is obviously the female demographic I wonder how many others there are out there in the same boat.