Eat Pray, Love, Julia Roberts

Sony Pictures

My kids don't think Julia Roberts is a real star anymore. But Eat Pray Love is going to be huge, right?
—P.G., via the Answer B!tch inbox

Let me guess: Your kids think Jason Statham is the sickest actor on the planet and that no one human being can possibly have more fame particles per square inch than Kristen Stewart.

Yeah, no:

Box office prestidigitators fully expect Eat Pray Love to dominate theaters this weekend, or, at the very least, contend for the top one or two spots. They largely credit the source material—Elizabeth Gilbert's wildly successful and profoundly self-indulgent memoir by the same name.

But they also point to Roberts's enduring, everygirl brand, which is a perfect fit for this movie and, therefore, almost guaranteed to bring in cash.

Yes, it's been decade since Roberts last headlined a picture—Erin Brockovich came out 10 years ago—but it's also been about that long since Roberts has done a movie that really brings out what people like about her. Now that she's back in true form, yes, analysts say, this is Roberts's official comeback.

"Julia Roberts has always been the type of actress that can 'carry' the right type of picture for her—Julia-against-the-world films like Erin Brockovich or The Pelican Brief, or romantic comedies like Notting Hill," Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock says.

"Audiences love to see her in these types of roles, and Eat Pray Love is a combination of those two."

That isn't to say that Roberts hasn't had to scale back in some regards. She isn't commanding the salaries she once did; she earned a reported $20 million for Brockovich, Mona Lisa Smile and The Mexican—twice what she supposedly earned for Eat Pray Love.

And whenever she's strayed from her tried-and-true formula, Julia's box office performance has been a mixed bag. Mona Lisa Smile did decent worldwide box office, but Duplicity was a disappointment, as was Charlie Wilson's War.

So, analysts tell me, Roberts is wise to have picked the material she did, pretty much assuring a successful comeback. But that doesn't mean she ever lost her "it."

"I don't think there is a woman alive right now that can open a film stronger than Angelina Jolie, but if you put America's Sweetheart in a sweetheart of a role, she is still on top of Hollywood's A-list every time," Bock says. "Sorry, Kristen, you have a long way to go."

And before you start in on me in the comments, that was Bock talking, not me.

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