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Can Shia LaBeouf open a movie?

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Now that we’ve had a moment to let the Indiana Jones casting brouhaha and Disturbia‘s big opening weekend sink in, I have to ask: Has Shia LaBeouf really arrived? I mean, REALLY arrived? Sure, that’s what the Hollywood pundits would have you think, after his first major starring vehicle premiered with an impressive $22.2 million last weekend. Even I was quick to jump on the “Shia’s the Next Big Thing” bandwagon when I wrote my box office recap on Sunday. Maybe time will prove that I was right to do so.

Then again, maybe not: I just got done talking with my colleague Gary Susman, and I’m starting to think that in this case maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to leap to conclusions. After all, Gary argued, Disturbia‘s concept (it’s basically a remake of Rear Window) sold itself, and the same goes for Shia’s next releases, the animated flick Surf’s Up and the big-budget tentpole Transformers. Can anyone comfortably argue that credit for the potential success of these films should largely go to this 20-year-old actor?

The ironic thing, Gary continued, is that in Hollywood, more than just about anywhere else, perception is reality. Thus, Disturbia‘shit opening no doubt made Shia’s asking price skyrocket on Saturday.(No wonder savvy Spielberg inked him for Indy 4shortly before!) But Lord knows we tend to get carried away when itcomes to issues like this (see: the sad cases of Josh Hartnett and manyothers). Heck, even Tom Cruise followed the movie that we remember ashis big breakout, Risky Business, with two bummers, All the Right Moves and Legend.So at what point do you think we’ll know for sure that Shia truly hasmade it and has a bright future ahead of him? And why are we sodesperate to anoint the next big thing, anyway?