In the ten years since Julia Roberts won her Oscar for Erin Brockovich she has put her leading lady status to one side to focus on motherhood.
So anticipation about her big comeback movie, Eat, Pray, Love, was high.
But not enough, it seems, to pull in the audience.
The long-awaited film about a 40-something woman’s midlife crisis came in second to Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables in it’s opening weekend at the U.S. box office, capturing 23.7million, compared to 35million.
The film starring Roberts and Javiar Bardem, is taken from Elizabeth Gilbert’s award-winning memoir about leaving her marriage and her year travelling to India, Indonesia and Italy.
She finds herself through the eye-opening feast of sights, sounds and food that she encounters.
Robert’s real-life counterpart also met her next husband (played in the film by Bardem), wrote a second book and is now well known in Hollywood.
Perhaps Eat, Pray Love’s unexpected failure to come in at number one may be down to women’s more realistic viewpoints about how to find happiness.
They may also have heard that Gilbert funded her odyssey with a book advance and not out of her own pocketbook.
Critics were mixed in their reviews.
‘The movie left me with a feeling of being trapped with a person of privilege who won’t stop with the whine, whine, whine,’ said Rolling Stone magazine.
The Los Angeles Times saw some positives: ‘[It] is unlikely to change anybody’s life or even to provoke emotions anywhere near as intense as those experienced by its intrepid heroine.
‘Its span may be global, but its scope is modest, and it accepts a certain superficiality as the price of useful insight. Watch. Smile. Go home and dream of Brazilians in Bali.’
The Telegraph wrote: ‘Eat, Pray, Love is the story of a pilgrimage. We all, including Julia Roberts, long for a pilgrimage at some point in our lives.’
‘A minor and superficial summer diversion that offers female viewers not much more than a two-hour escape fantasy,’ said Saloon.com.
Others say the film is too much of a travelogue, and doesn’t stay close enough to the book, which also touches on Gilbert’s spiritual leanings.
‘I stopped trusting the movie,’ said Slate.com’s Dana Stevens.
There were high expectations for Eat Pray Love, made for approximately $60 million, – $20million more than another recent female-oriented film, Julia&Julia.
Roberts, one of the first women to make more than $20 million at the boxoffice, is now 42.
But while she may be one of the older leading ladies, she still has a wide appeal to women of all ages,
In fact 44 percent of females watching the film in the U.S. were aged under 35.
And while critics may not be impressed, fans are happy that the film has finally arrived.
‘Everyone should go see ‘Eat Pray Love’ this weekend. Such a beautiful film….and the acting is phenomenal,’ tweeted a fan on Twitter.