The success of ''Limitless'' proves Cooper is a bankable leading man

By Adam Markovitz
March 25, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

After scoring his first win as a solo leading man with last week’s Limitless, Bradley Cooper’s career prospects may be just that. The 36-year-old actor helped push studio Relativity’s PG-13 thriller — about a writer on brain-boosting pills — to a surprise $18.9 million bow. That’s not huge by showbiz standards, but it’s a sign that the Hangover star is a box office draw even without his Wolf Pack. ”There are so few leading men who can open a movie,” says Relativity president of worldwide production Tucker Tooley. ”Everyone thought Bradley had the potential to be that, and this is proof that he can.” Now Hollywood is trying to catch Cooper’s rising star. ”Everybody’s talking about him: What [project] do we have for him?” says A-list producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Salt). But Cooper, who reportedly split with girlfriend Renée Zellweger recently, doesn’t come cheap. He’ll make a reported $5 million against 4 percent of first-dollar gross (translation: a fortune) on May’s The Hangover Part II. And while Limitless may not send his quote soaring, it should bring more big offers to the table. ”This puts him in a very important spot,” says a top agent. ”A studio will now entertain making a $75 million franchise film with him at the center.”