A $12-million tearjerker about two teenage cancer patients will beat the latest Tom Cruise action movie at the box office this weekend, according to pre-release tracking and box office analysts. “The Fault in Our Stars” is projected to gross between $35 million and $40 million while “Edge of Tomorrow,” which stars Cruise and Emily Blunt, is projected between $25 million and $30 million.
Some analysts think $40 million may be too low an estimate for “Fault,” which has amassed a massive following on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. That is no surprise given the source material. The movie is based on a book by John Green, an author who was an early and avid user of YouTube and Twitter. He launched the popular VlogBrothers YouTube channel with his brother Hank in 2007, one year after Google bought the now-ubiquitous video site.
BoxOffice.com vice-president and senior analyst Phil Contrino told TheWrap the final tally for “Fault” could fall anywhere within a wide range given the fickle nature of teenagers, the movie’s core audience, but he projected $45 million in grosses from the movie’s 3,171 locations.
“It’s really mobilizing the fan base and creating new fans,” Contrino said. “It’s extraordinary to see.”
Movie studios are still cautious about social media indexes, and “Fault’s” studio Fox projects $25 million for the young adult drama. Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson noted strong competition from “Maleficent,” last weekend’s box office champ. It will play at 3,948 theaters, many more than “Fault.”
“We didn’t think ‘Maleficent’ would open to quite the number it did; that is formidable,” Aronson told TheWrap. “Their two strongest quadrants are exactly the same as our one and a half.”
Aronson remains confident because “The Fault in Our Stars,” which stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, delivers precisely what its rabid audience desires.
“We’ll have one of those phenomenons where people will latch onto the movie and it will play for a long time,” Aronson said. “In a forest of special effects and tentpole movies, it’s a really compelling human interest drama.”
While estimates for “The Fault in Our Stars” vary, Disney, rival studios and outside analysts all project “Maleficent” will drop to the low-to-mid 30s. It has posted strong mid-week grosses, and has tallied $211.5 million worldwide since opening last week.
Both “Maleficent” and “Fault” should top “Edge of Tomorrow,” Warner Bros. $178-milion action movie directed by “Bourne Identity” filmmaker Doug Liman. Warner Bros. has mounted a furious marketing campaign before the movie to try and boost its chances, but neither that nor strong reviews have had the intended effect.
The movie sports a 91 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the studio hopes those reviews augur stronger numbers thanks to word of mouth. Even so, Warner Bros. will depend on foreign markets to recoup its substantial investment. “Edge of Tomorrow” has grossed $20 million in foreign territories last weekend, and opens in China this weekend.
“The Fault in Our Stars” does not have the making of a foreign juggernaut, but it is the rare movie that does not need to.
“A $12-million movie doubling its budget in the opening three days? That’s what thrills me,” Aronson said. “That’s such a rarity.”