Apparently the only weapon that rival studios have against the onslaught of major genre pictures is one Amanda Seyfried. She helped open Mama Mia! to $28 million against the record-setting $158 million opening weekend of The Dark Knight back in July 2008. She helped Dear John open to $32 million back in February of this year, knocking Avatar out of the top spot in its seventh weekend. Now, her latest film, Letters From Juliet, will be getting a national sneak preview on Sunday, May 9th. Of course, as we all know, May 7th is the opening day of Iron Man 2, which itself is a strong contender to steal The Dark Knight's opening weekend crown (unlike the first film, there are no advance-night, pre-12:01 screenings planned, meaning Paramount wants a nice, clean opening-weekend record). The picture actually opens on May 14th, against Ridley Scott's Gladiator II... err... Robin Hood. Don't be too surprised if Summit's lower-budget romantic drama makes waves against Universal's apparent been there-done that rehash. A dark, violent, revisionist Robin Hood with modern-day sensibilities... I loved that in 1991 when it was called Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (obviously, I'll be the first to eat 'crowe' if it's anywhere near as good as Kingdom of Heaven).
Snark aside, it is incredibly refreshing how Seyfried, in just six years, has become one of the biggest stars in the industry. Alternating between quality film work (Mean Girls) and uncommonly good television (Veronica Mars, Big Love, a one-shot gig on one of the funniest episodes in CSI: Vegas history), she truly broke out with her first lead role in Mama Mia! just two years ago. In that time, she's developed a genuine following and a moderate box office pull, propping up good films and making bad films (Jennifer's Body) feel more like noble failures. Most importantly, she's done all of this without ever having to play the 'token love interest' in a male-dominated genre picture. Hell, one of week's big news stories is the unknown male actor who was cast as HER token love interest in Catherine Hardwicke's The Girl with the Little Red Riding Hood. And, unlike Hillary Swank, she's never had to fend off cruel taunts that she's somehow too headstrong or 'butch' to compete for mainstream roles.
Point being, if you can't beat her, recruit her. Marvel could do worse than to find a villainous role for Ms. Seyfried in Captain America (does Red Skull have a female equivalent of Bucky?) or The Avengers, to say nothing of her being a coup for any and all of the theoretical female Batman villains for Nolan's next picture. Pamela Isley, Selina Kyle, Talia Al Ghul - pick one. She seems like the only one who can stand up to the superheroes anyway.