Is Taylor Lautner doomed not to go beyond ‘Twilight’?


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Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart’s big-budget ambitions are debatable, but there’s little doubt that the third leg in the ‘Twilight’ tripod, Taylor Lautner, harbors them in a big way. He’s been saying as much all over town, dropping Tom Cruise missiles to anyone who’ll listen. Meanwhile, John Singleton, the director of Lautner’s new film, ‘Abduction,’ says that the ‘goal’ of their collaboration is to show ‘that Taylor can actually carry a picture — that he’s truly a star.’

But the box-office performance of ‘Abduction,’ the 19-year-old’s first role of any substance outside his trademark vampire franchise, suggests otherwise. In the week since it opened, the action-thriller has tallied only about $13.5 million -- far from picture-carrying numbers.

How do those figures stack up to Lautner’s on-screen counterpoint? Pattinson’s ‘Remember Me’ took in nearly $11 million over the same number of days ... and was regarded as proof that hunger for the actor in non-vampiric parts runs about as deep as a Cullen’s appetite in a vegan market.


What’s more, in Lautner’s case, he was neither going smaller nor more dramatic, as Pattinson was in ‘Remember Me,’ robbing him of what would have been a good explanation for the underwhelming box office. In fact, Lautner was doing In ‘Abduction’ pretty much what he’s been doing as Jacob Black in ‘Twilight’: playing a teenager with mostly good impulses trying to vanquish bad guys. If he can’t carry this film, what can he carry?

To be fair to the young actor, plenty of his more established elders have the same trouble these days. Watch Johnny Depp struggle outside ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ or Lautner’s idol, Tom Cruise, in a movie not named ‘Mission: Impossible.’

Somehow this feels different, though. When Cruise was an up-and-comer, he was able to turn otherwise solid but nondescript films into sensations. (Picture ‘Top Gun’ without him.) That’s not exactly the case here. ‘Twilight’ is a movie that very well would have been a hit without Lautner; in fact, it arguably helped him as much as he helped it, providing him with ample star power. He’s yet to demonstrate he can do much with it.


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--Steven Zeitchik