By Dave Karger
Updated June 22, 2011 at 07:50 PM EDT

In Hollywood, the path to success is rarely a straight line. Case in point: Jennifer Lopez. The once-scorching movie star has starred in only one film that played in over 1,000 theaters (last year’s romantic comedy The Back-Up Plan) in the last six years. But this morning comes the news, first reported by Mike Fleming over at Deadline, that Lopez is close to signing onto two big-budget films: The action thriller Parker with Jason Statham, and the ensemble comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

What’s different about her these days? Well, American Idol, of course. Her successful season judging Idol certainly resulted in a perception shift among the public, and it would appear that movie producers and executives are looking at her a little differently as well. “The public memory is mercilessly short,” Alan Poul, who directed The Back-Up Plan, tells EW. “Jennifer took time off to be a mother, and that unselfish little hiatus put some distance between her and her audience. Idol reminded people what an approachable, generous, and friendly person she is at heart.”

Once the deals are done, Lopez will film both Parker and What to Expect during her summer hiatus from Idol. Her big decision now: Whether to return to the show that revitalized her career, or take a chance and make her movie career her top priority.

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