Justin Timberlake

Today may be Harry Potter day but I thought I’d take a minute and discuss another former boy bander - Justin Timberlake (Yes, I know Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t in a band but he was on Broadway, so that may count as something) and the fact that he may be moving into leading man territory next week when he opens Friends With Benefits.

Next week marks a significant time in Timberlake’s acting career, he’s opening a movie as the lead male actor. “Who cares?” you may say… Well, I care, I say. Today when I saw the big billboard with Timberlake trying to look like the friend next door across from Mila Kunis (more on her in a minute) I asked if I was ready for him. Hollywood clearly is taking the musician JT paired up with the “Holy Shit is Timberlake really in a David Fincher film” steam and putting him in a movie that Ashton Kutcher is born to play… No Strings Attached reference.

I needed to do some reflection and ask if I had any beef with JT, no. I actually really like his music, and when he had dyed curly blonde hair I secretly liked some of his poppy NSYNC music. So why am I questioning this? Well, it’s because I hadn’t accepted JT the actor quite yet. Although he’s been in close to 10 films I still always pictured him as a performer on SNL, in digital shorts, singing on the ESPY’s, and looking at Janet’s boob.

So let me do what I’m best at, and that’s break down scenarios that not need to be broken down, thus essentially laying out what’s going to happen with JT’s career post next week. As I see it, 1 of 3 things will happen:

Scenario 1: Best Case Scenario

The movie opens to good reviews, and not only does the movie open to good reviews but Timberlake has good reviews, and especially with his Kunis chemistry. Along with the good reviews the movie makes roughly 30 million and thus gives insta solidification to the idea that JT can be leading man in a movie.

From here he does a few more films with solid directors (next film is with Andrew Niccol aka a great director) and then re-enters leading man role in a comedy, then eventually moves to serious.

In this best-case scenario he takes on the career of former musicians turned actors: Frank Sinatra, Mark Wahlberg, and Will Smith. JT will one day look back at the time when he was second fiddle and occasionally dabble back in music making him the ultimate double threat to music and film. Of course he will produce, direct, and probably write something in the future.

The Big Ol’ Asterisk of this Best Case Scenario: Today is Harry Potter day and it doesn’t seem like this train is slowing down. On top of that, Potter has competition in the form of Captain America, which opens along with Friends with Benefits. What this means is JT’s movie is going to open at #3… that’s right, 3.

Opening Friends with Benefits is some kind of brilliance or a blatant slap saying “Hey we know you aren’t going to open #1 at the box office so we’ll just throw you into the mix of the 2 biggest movies of the summer.” Either way the best case is that this movie opens at #3 with 30 million.

Last thing on this – if it does open to 30 million then that means this weekend will most likely be one of the biggest opening weekends ever. Best Case.

Scenario 2: Worst Case Scenario

The movie opens to poor reviews and totally bombs. We hear that JT can’t open a movie and the in film chemistry is on par to Madonna and Banderas in Evita. The movie opens with 8 million and falls behind Potter, Captain America, this week’s Winnie the Pooh, and next week’s indie sleep Another Earth.

We all make jokes about this movie but ultimately wipe it from our memories and Timberlake needs to continuously take on rolls in the supporting world, makes another (good) album, and goes back to SNL to save face. His career would mirror former musician turned actors: Henry Rollins, Lance Bass, Bon Jovi, and Sting.

We will only see JT as a supporting role.

Scenario 3: Most Probable Scenario

The movie opens to mild reviews, as does JT’s acting performance. The movie generates roughly 20 million (very respectable) and still opens behind Potter and America. The catch with this scenario is that we can’t really get a gauge on what JT can do and is capable of – the thinking is as followed:

“He opened a movie during the heart of the summer and still managed to pull 20 million. We think we can still bank on him so lets toss him in another romantic comedy and see how he does… Um, who is available… Jennifer Aniston?”

This scenario is open ended because we don’t know what will happen, and this is precisely why this is genius to open this movie on this day. It’s a lock to make some money but if it doesn’t we can blame so many other factors.

JT will get many more opportunities to prove himself and eventually re-assert himself in the leading man role. For a while he’ll be like other musician turned actors: David Bowie, Ice Cube, LL Cool J, and Mos Def. But he’ll eventually come into his own.

One of the above will happen next week; we just need to wait on the reviews.

Final few things about JT – He’s doing his best to define himself as himself and move away from the musician of it all. I don’t know if it’s just me but I always find the “musician turned actor” less believable unless you’re the minority in Marky Mark, The Fresh Price, and Old Blue Eyes. So I need to respect what’s happening here in his career, because up until now he hasn’t really done anything too commercial (and yes I know he was in The Social Network).

JT surrounds himself with good people. Will Gluck directs Friends with Benefits who did the hit Easy A, and he’s paired with rising star Kunis. Mila basically has everything going for her right now – Black Swan, Sarah Marshall, Family Guy, Denzel movie nobody saw, and she dated Macaulay Culkin… Come on.

Lastly, he’s no fool. He clearly knows what he’s doing and makes very educated decisions about his next step in his career and apparently he’s good at what he’s doing. The simple fact that he was in The Social Network gives him actor street cred immediately. But that’s the thing with JT, we’ve only seen snippets of him, not a full 90 minutes of him… at least not yet.

So, next week, as you go see Harry Potter for the second time or check out Captain America just remember that the musical George Clooney (tons of chicks, isn’t slowing down) is going to open his first film and this will be the spark as to what will happen next. Although I’m nowhere close to sold on JT, I actually have faith that he’s going to do a great job and we’ll one day forget that he was a singer… until he does his Sinatra comeback tour.