Fox’s tragic teen romance “The Fault in Our Stars” captured the box-office crown with a $48.2 million opening this weekend, swamping Tom Cruise‘s “Edge of Tomorrow” and providing the summer’s biggest surprise yet.
In a season typically dominated by pricey epics featuring superheroes, monsters and giant robots, the low-budget adaptation of John Green’s bestseller about two young cancer patients (Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort) falling in love was something out of the ordinary. Women, rarely the target for summer tentpole movies, dominated the audience which was a whopping 82 percent female and 79 percent under the age of 25. They went home happy, and gave the film an “A” CinemaScore.
“Fault fanatics” — mainly teen girls who also made the film a social media phenomenon — turned out in force Friday and powered a huge, $26 million first day that set the tone for the weekend. Last week’s No. 1 movie, Disney’s “Maleficent,” another movie that primarily appealed to women, finished second with $33.8 million. That easily topped Cruise’s sci-fi saga, which wound up third with $29.1 million over its first three days.
The success of “Fault,” produced for $12 million by Temple Hill Entertainment’s Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen via Fox 2000, is a major financial score for the studio as not many movies quadruple their production budgets in the first three days. To put that in perspective, “Edge of Tomorrow,” from Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow, cost nearly $180 million to produce.
That “Fault” would open in the summer wasn’t a given. Producers Godfrey and Bowen — the team behind the “Twilight” franchise — had originally believed a release in the less-competitive fall corridor made more sense. But Fox executives thought otherwise, and were proved right this weekend.
“We just thought it was the perfect antidote to what we knew would be the plethora of big-budget, sci-fi action movies,” Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson told TheWrap. “We loved the idea of being the one tree in the forest that stood out, and we timed it so that we opened just as the majority of kids were getting out of school.”
The opening for “Fault” wound up under that of “Divergent,” another young adult-angled film starring Woodley that opened with $54 million in March. That’s because its Saturday business was down significantly from Friday’s stellar showing, which swelled by a very strong $8.2 million from Thursday night shows.
“That says more about how huge Friday was than anything else,” said Aronson. “We’re very confident going forward because our exit numbers were incredible.” More than 80 percent of the audience said they’d “definitely recommend” the film to others.
The opening of “Edge of Tomorrow” is below that of “Oblivion,” a similar sci-fi epic starring Cruise that opened to $37 million in April of 2013. The underwhelming domestic debut means that “Edge,” directed by Doug Liman and co-starring Emily Blunt, will have to recoup its costs overseas where Cruise remains a box-office force. It’s off to a good start, and it was the top film internationally this weekend with $82 million that lifted its foreign total to $111 million.
“Edge” played predictably male (61 percent) and older, with 73 percent of the audience over the age of 25. The action saga got a big boost from IMAX theaters, which brought in 14 percent of its grosses. Critics loved the film (89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences gave it a “B+” CinemaScore grade.
The strong second-week showing by “Maleficent,” just under half of its $69 million opening last weekend, is one of the better holds by a top film this season and raises the domestic total for the live-action “Sleeping Beauty” update starring Angeline Jolie to $127 million. This marks the sixth consecutive week there’s been a new No. 1 movie.
Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” also held well and brought in $15.6 million in its third week to raise the domestic total for the Marvel mutant mashup to nearly $190 million after three weeks.
Seth MacFarlane’s R-rated cowboy comedy “A Million Ways to Die in the West” was was fifth with $7.1 million. That’s a 57 percent drop from its opening weekend and leaves it with a $30 million domestic total after two weeks for Universal.
“Godzilla” and “Neighbors” weren’t far behind. The Legendary Pictures-Warner Bros. classic monster remake brought in $6 million in its fourth week to up its domestic total to $185 million. Universal’s raunchy Seth Rogen-Zac Efron frat vs. family comedy took in $5.2million in its fifth week to bring its domestic haul to nearly $138 million.
The Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore comedy “Blended,” Jon Favreau’s food truck comedy “Chef” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” rounded out the top ten.
“Blended” is at $36.4 million domestically after a $3.9 million third week for Warner Bros. Open Road’s “Chef” is up to $10 million in the wake of its $2.4 million fifth week, just a 29 percent drop from last week.
Sony’s Marvel superhero sequel took in $1.9 million in its sixth week and should hit $200 million domestically early next week.