Younger females proved their might at the North American box office this weekend, delivering a stellar $48.2 million opening for YA romance "The Fault in Our Stars," starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as two young lovers who meet in a cancer support group.
The adaptation of John Green's wildly popular book saw a steep 52 percent drop from Friday to Saturday, not a surprise considering that many fans turned out early. The movie, earning an A CinemaScore, is a victory for Fox 2000, with Fault already making back its $12 million budget four times over. It also underscores Woodley's rising star status.
Fault easily beat Tom Cruise's male-fueled sci-fi epic "Edge of Tomorrow," which opened to a problematic $29.1 million despite stellar reviews. The Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow title cost at least $178 million to make, meaning it needed to do bigger business.
"Edge of Tomorrow" is faring better overseas, where Cruise is more popular, earning $82 million for the weekend from 63 markets to top the foreign chart. First rolling out internationally last weekend, "Edge" has now earned $111 million offshore for a worldwide cume of $140.1 million. The movie is prospering in Asia and Russia, but is only okay in Europe.
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This weekend's highlights included China, where "Edge of Tomorrow" placed No. 1 with $25 million, and Russia, where it earned $8.6 million (both are Cruise's best openings to date).
"Fault in Our Stars" beat "Edge" in 16 of the 17 international markets where it launched this weekend, including Australia, Mexico and Brazil, where Green's book is a cultural phenomenon. "Fault" grossed $17 million internationally.
Another film making its first international push was Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill's sequel "22 Jump Street," which soared to a No. 1, $8.8 million finish in the U.K. a week ahead of its domestic launch. That's three times the opening of "21 Jump Street," and 50 percent ahead of "Neighbors," according to Sony.
In North America, "Fault in Our Stars" also had no trouble overtaking Disney holdover "Maleficent" (heading into the weekend, most thought the race would be closer between "Fault" and the Angelina Jolie live-action fairy tale).
Still, "Maleficent" had plenty to boast about as its global earnings rose to $335.5 million — the third-best gross for a live-action film starring Jolie behind "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" ($478 million) and "Wanted" ($342 million), which it will pass shortly.
"Maleficent" placed No. 2 domestically, falling 52 percent in its second weekend (notably less than other recent tentpoles) to $33.5 million for a domestic total of $127.4 million. Overseas, the movie took in a $59.7 million from 52 markets for an international cume of $208.1 million. "Maleficent" has yet to open in China and Japan.
While "Maleficent" is playing to females of all ages, as well as to families, "Fault's" audience was much younger, although it still had to compete with Jolie's movie. Combined, the two films took in $81.6 million, "an extraordinary showing" for two female-oriented properties, said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson.
Females made up roughly 82 percent of "Fault's" audience, an even bigger percentage than the first "Twilight"(75 percent), and 79 percent of the audience was under the age of 25, an almost unheard of ratio (that compares to 55 percent for the first "Twilight").
"We knew we had the John Green fans engaged, and I think the question is how long will it take to cross over to the general all-audience. I think there's a very good chance," said Aronson.
Fault's ardent fan base explains why the movie earned 54 percent of its total gross on Friday to become one of the most front-loaded titles of all time, along with "Hannah Montana: The Movie" and the "Twilight" films.
Josh Boone directed "The Fault in Our Stars" from an adapted script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. The movie also stars Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Nat Wolff and Willem Dafoe.
Producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen are certainly no strangers at winning over females, having spearheaded the "Twilight" franchise for Summit Entertainment.
"Edge of Tomorrow's" audience was largely male (61 percent). Audiences seemed to like the film less than critics, giving it a B+ CinemaScore.
Directed by Doug Liman and co-starring Emily Blunt, "Edge of Tomorrow" stars Cruise as a military spin doctor who finds himself on the battlefield, where he is forced to live the same day over and over again. "Edge" couldn't match the $37.1 million debut of Cruise's last film, the sci-fi epic "Oblivion," which opened in April 2013.
"We have a movie that has incredible reviews, including an 89 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We have an audience that likes what it sees, and we believe more moviegoers will embrace it in the weeks to come. It's tough when you have a new concept," said Warners executive vice president of distribution Jeff Goldstein.
Elsewhere in North America, "Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past" placed No. 4 in its third weekend, falling 55 percent to $14.7 million for a domestic total of $189.1 million. Internationally, it earned another $42 million from 74 markets for a foreign total of $422 and global cume of $621.1 million (in China, "Days of Future Past" crossed the $100 million mark over the weekend).
Seth MacFarlane's ill-fated "A Million Ways to Die in the West" slipped to No. 5 domestically in its second weekend, tumbling 57 percent to $7.2 million for a paltry total of $30.1 million.
Jon Favreau's indie food-truck comedy "Chef" expanded nationwide to solid results, grossing $2.6 million for a domestic total of $10.4 million for Open Road Films.
Distributor A24 Films nabbed the top theater average of the weekend with the debut of dramedy "Obvious Child," from filmmaker Gillian Robespierre and starring Jenny Slate as an unwed comedian who contemplates having an abortion. The movie, making its world premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, grossed $81,000 from three theaters in New York and Los Angeles for an average of $27,000.
Political documentary "Citizen Koch," likewise a 2014 Sundance entry, debuted in one theater in New York, grossing $10,200 for Variance Films.