Robert Pattinson is smoldering as Georges Deroy in 18 new movie stills that show him in various stages of seduction with his hot Bel Ami leading ladies, Christina Ricci, Kristen Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman and Holliday Grainger.

The film had its world premiere out of competition at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February.

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group bought most of the North American distribution rights, and will release the film theatrically in June through IFC Films.

Check out Rob’s photos; click to enlarge.

But in a surprise and somewhat puzzling move, the company plans to release the picture domestically through Video on Demand on May 4. It will follow with a limited theatrical release on June 8.

Despite so many big stars, Sony’s move suggests a lack of confidence in the film’s drawing power at the box office. “Bel Ami” cost just under $12 million to make and should easily clear that through ticket sales.

Is the studio being scared off by the critics?

Most of the reviews have been negative from its showing in Berlin and the Glasgow Film Festival. The picture currently has a 43 percent rating on rottentomatoes, a Web site that tracks reviews.

“For a heritage picture, Bel Ami looks awfully like a video-booth diary with the flattering luminosity of Vaseline on the lens,” wrote Tara Brady in The Irish Times.

“Georges is nowhere near likeable enough to make us enjoy his successes, and by the end he’s no more corrupt than he was at the start,” wrote Christopher Tookey, of London’s Daily Mail.

With reviews like that, who needs enemies?

Most of the positive reviews, meanwhile, are hedged. But some are glowing.

“The directors give the story a barbed conviction and the female players, especially, act to the hilt,” wrote Nigel Andrews in the influential Financial Times, one of the truly glowing reviews.

Audiences have been much kinder. Of those who’ve seen the film, 88 percent recommend it.

Still, Rob looks absolutely rakish, and his leading ladies are all juicy plums ripe for the picking. Check out the photos!