This past weekend was the the best pretty-good of times and worst not-great of times for Justin Timberlake. He was offered one of the lead roles in 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' the new drama from the Coen brothers about the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1960s New York. That's pretty good! Unfortunately, the offer came when his first foray as an action star was scuffling at the box office. Released on over 3000 screens, 'In Time' earned only $12 million, finishing a distant third behind 'Puss in Boots' and 'Paranormal Activity 3.' Not great! Which raises the question: Is Justin Timberlake actually a movie star?
The short answer is a resounding yes. After all, Timberlake is an actor who appears in movies; by simple definition, he is a movie star. But is he a star? You know, the type of actor audiences flock to see on opening weekend, regardless of whether their movie just looks plain bad?

There are two ways of looking at Timberlake's burgeoning career. On the one hand, if 'In Time' would have starred Hugh Jackman or Tom Cruise, it seems likely that the film would have doubled its opening weekend receipts. This doesn't work all the time -- hello, Johnny Depp and 'The Rum Diary'! -- but when stars are stars, they attain an almost Teflon quality. On the other, Timberlake still has a ways to go before he can even be considered a true leading man, something that has more to do with opportunity than anything else.

His financial successes as an actor ('Shrek the Third,' 'The Social Network,' 'Bad Teacher') have come with supporting roles; as a lead, he's gotten two chances: 'Friends With Benefits,' which opened with $18 million over the summer on its way to $55 million, and now 'In Time.' Neither were wash-outs, which only means he'll get more chances to prove himself in the future. (Though since 'Inside Llewyn Davis' is poised to be another ensemble -- and comes from the Coen brothers -- don't expect that to be his box-office breakout.)

So, is Timberlake a movie star? Not yet. But unlike Ryan Reynolds -- about whom this debate was brought up with unspectacular results over the summer -- Timberlake is a bona fide celebrity. He's easily one of the 15 famous males on the planet -- a personality that you, your mother, your cousin and even grandmother has not only heard of, but probably likes. That counts for something. Whether Timberlake can capitalize on that fame remains to be seen.

The floor is yours, dear Moviefone readers: do you consider JT a movie star? Or just a pop star and celebrity who happens to appear in movies?

[Photo: Getty]

Follow Moviefone on Twitter
Like Moviefone on Facebook


categories Movies