Teen drama projected to knock off “Ninja Turtles” and top “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” and football tale “When the Game Stands Tall”
“If I Stay” feels a lot like the early summer box-office hit “The Fault in Our Stars.”
That’s going to be a good thing this weekend, when the teary teen drama starring Chloe Grace Moretz is expected to open north of $20 million and halt the two-week reign of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
Also in the mix will be the R-rated, graphic novel-based crime drama “Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” which is looking at low- to mid-teen millions in its opening. The weekend’s other wide opener, the high school football saga “When the Game Stands Tall,” is pointing toward $10 million.
Comparisons with “The Fault in Our Stars” are inevitable for “If I Stay.”
Both are low-budget adaptations of popular, heart-rending young adult novels with large followings of social media-savvy young women, a formula that worked in a big way for “Fault.” The adaptation of John Green‘s novel, which had a $12 million production budget, opened to $48 million in June and has gone on to take in $272 million globally for Fox.
“If I Stay” won’t match those numbers — Gayle Forman’s novel isn’t as big a bestseller as “Fault” and the social media numbers don’t compare — but it could take in more than double its $10 million production budget in its first weekend for distributor Warner Bros. and MGM, which produced and co-financed.
“It targets an under-served audience in young women,” said BoxOffice.com assistant editor Shawn Robbins, “and this is their last big movie of summer, so I expect a solid turnout.”
The story, adapted by Shauna Cross, follows a young woman whose life changes drastically after she’s involved in a terrible car accident. Mireille Enos and Jamie Blackley co-star in the drama, which is directed by R.J. Cutler. He’s best known as the producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary “The War Room,” a behind-the-scenes look at Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, and as an executive producer of the TV series “Nashville.”
Moretz could use a hit. She’s coming off “Carrie” and “Kick-Ass 2,” both of which were box-office misses.
There haven’t been many reviews of “If I Stay” yet, but its footprint on Twitter and Facebook is significant. On Monday it led all films with a massive 61,407 tweets, up from 27,402 tweets on Sunday, according to BoxOffice.com, and its Facebook “like” count is over 800,000. Those are both strong numbers, but well under those for “Fault.”
It will be in more than 2,500 theaters.
Watch video: Here’s the Racy Red Band Trailer for ‘Sin City’
The 3D sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” will take moviegoers back to the stylishly violent, black-and-white noir world that comic book legend Miller (“300″) created in the original “Sin City,” which opened to $29 million and went on to take in nearly $160 million worldwide in 2005.
Miller again writes and directs with Robert Rodriguez (“Machete Kills”), while stars Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis return. Among newcomers joining the ensemble are Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Eva Green.
The Weinstein Company, which is distributing and handled the marketing, is zeroing in on young males with “Dame to Kill For” — an early promo poster featuring Green was banned for being too steamy — so “If I Stay” won’t be a problem. The fact that it’s coming out nine years after the original could be, however.
TWC will have it in roughly 2,800 theaters.
Sony TriStar’s drama “When the Game Stands Tall” is based on a 2003 book by Neil Hayes and tells the story of Bob Ladouceur, who coached Northern California’s De La Salle High to a record 151-game winning streak that stretched from 1992 to 2003.
Jim Caviezel stars as the coach at the Catholic school, with Laura Dern as his wife and Michael Chiklis as his assistant. Thomas Carter (“Coach Carter”) directs from a screenplay by Scott Marshall Smith. “When the Game Stands Tall” has an inspiring message that may appeal to faith-based and family audiences.
Sports movies can be a tough sell at the box office, and the last two have struggled. Kevin Costner‘s pro-football tale “Draft Day” opened to $9.5 million in April and hasn’t cracked $30 million for Lionsgate. The John Hamm baseball movie “Million Dollar Arm” opened to $10 million in May and has topped out at $34 million domestically for Disney.
The lack of an A-list star won’t help “When the Game Stands Tall,” and its social media profile isn’t strong, so it will need positive word of mouth if it’s going to play through the start of football season. If it does, it will be profitable, because the production budget is a modest $15 million.
Sony will have it about 2,600 theaters.
Prospects look good for this weekend to top the comparable frame last year, when “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” scored a repeat win with $16 million. If it does, it will be the fifth straight week to do so; the overall summer box office remains down around 15 percent from last year’s record-breaking haul, however.