Written by Sarah

Every day it seems Twilight’s Taylor Lautner is signing onto a new project and his salary just keeps escalating. Last year he signed on to a live-action Stretch Armstrong movie for a reported $7.5 million and this year he’s signed on to two more action flicks—one is Incarceron, a YA adaptation about a kid in a futuristic prison colony who escapes, and the other is an as-yet untitled spy thriller that’s described as Bourne meets Munich but appropriate for teen audiences—for eight figures each.

Eight figures.


With expenditures dwindling across the board and many thinking the day of the $15-20 million paycheque is over, studios are flinging money at Lautner like he’s some kind of ravenous beast that must be appeased. Not counting his Twilight payday, in the last twelve months studios have invested around $30 million in Lautner—and that’s just for his salary. The overall investment is likely upwards of $100 million so far. It’s mindboggling when you consider that Lautner has yet to be tested in the marketplace outside of Twilight. No one has any idea what kind of box office he can deliver.

Lautner has his first post-Twilight movie coming out this September, Abduction, and he’s scheduled to work the rest of the year after Breaking Dawn wraps this spring, with more projects looming for 2012. So he’ll be a busy guy once Twilight is in the can. But all this activity feels…unjustified.

It feels like stacking the deck against yourself. As if there isn’t enough pressure to deliver in the wake of Twilight’s success, Lautner has all this pecuniary pressure as well. Serious money is being spent, which means serious returns are expected. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have both struggled to bring the Twimasses to their other projects, so if “Edward” and “Bella” can’t do it, what chance does “Jacob”—the third wheel of the trio—stand? If I were signing Lautner’s cheques, I would be asking myself this question.

The upside for Lautner is that Hollywood is desperate for young actors to step into the shoes of action heartthrob and his predilection for these roles has definitely been noticed, making him part of The Hollywood Reporter’s “new A List”. With so many of the upcoming young actors focusing on artier, more dramatic projects, including Lautner’s costar Pattinson, the way is clear for a guy who just wants to make blockbusters and isn’t worried about proving his artistic mettle.

And I see the upside for those who will be marketing these movies. Lautner is a finished product. He’s well mannered, polite and seems like a nice kid. We make fun of him for over-enunciating everything, but at least he sounds like a human being when he speaks, and not a LOLspeaking twat like so many teenagers. He’s cute, sporty and certainly sell-able. But can HE sell?

I just don’t know. I don’t know that the talent is there to carry a whole movie. I don’t know that the general public cares to see “the guy from Twilight that doesn’t get the girl” in action movies. To successfully sell action flicks you have to have Dude Approval and I don’t think Lautner has a lot of Dude Approval. Investing this much money in a kid no one is sure can actually carry a movie feels like throwing money into a wishing well. It is an expensive leap of faith.

Photo from Christopher Polk/Gettyimages.com