You can have your superhero movies, your alien invasions, your giant sentient machines - for a lot of people, this is the weekend with the movie of the summer. And if it's not the one for you, well, then, you're not a 15-year-old girl.
Weekend Forecast for June 6-8, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
June 6, 2014
The Fault in Our Stars may sneak up on a lot of people this weekend, unaware of just how popular the young adult novel is. Adapted from the novel by John Green (arguably more famous as a vlogger now...), it's a weepie about two teens, one with a prosthetic leg, another with terminal lung cancer that requires her to carry an oxygen tank around, who meet in a cancer support group. Pitched as an uncompromising look at youth and romance in trying circumstances, its connection with teens (done, by, get this, speaking to them like real people) is undeniable and turned into something of a phenomenon. The parallels to Love Story are right there to see, although without the saccharine sentimentality.
Shailene Woodley, the female lead, also likely has a brighter future ahead of her than Ali McGraw, having already received strong notice for her performance in The Spectacular Now and the Academy Award-nominated The Descendants . She's already kind of the bargain value Jennifer Lawrence, as she is featured in the lead role in the Divergent series (and just think if she'd stuck with the Spider-Man franchise). Something called Ansel Elgort (which sounds like a failed anagram) plays her male counterpart in the film, and is the catalyst for much of the plot.
To say this is an anticipated film amongst its target audience is a bit of an understatement. Pre-sales have it beating The Vow, Channing Tatum's breakout romantic role, and a solid blockbuster in its own right. The narrow focus of the audience will cap it to some extent, as older audiences are probably unfamiliar with the material, or just plain uninterested. They may catch up after the fact, but this is a young person's film for opening weekend. So what's the potential size of that audience? Well, Woodley's last film provides a bit of a clue. Divergent opened in the mid 50s, with the help of young audiences and an action bent. Romance is often a tougher sell, but we've already gotten over that hump with this project. I'd expect an opening weekend of about $48 million.
Competing for the other half of audiences this weekend is Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Essentially the main idea of Groundhog Day meshed with [insert your favorite sci-fi film here], Cruise plays an ordinary man thrust into the middle of an alien war of extinction, finding that when he dies, he wakes up with the all the memories and abilities he learned during the brief (brief!) period he stayed alive. Blunt is another soldier that recognizes him for what he is, and takes him under her wing, repeating and repeating and repeating and repeating... until they're able to take on the invasion force. How exactly they've been able to harness this power is a question probably better explained by the film.
This may just be one of the best premises for a film in some time. Based on a Japanese manga with the infinitely better title of "All You Need Is Kill", it's up there with Inception and the aforementioned Groundhog Day as brilliant uses of the medium. In addition to what looks like some brilliantly staged action set pieces by director Doug Liman, the trailers and commercials also highlight a dark gallows humor, and a sense of exploring the premise for all that it's worth. Worse than a bad premise is a good premise wasted, and this does at least seem to be take advantage of what it's come up with.
Where once Tom Cruise was an unquestioned hit-maker, he's now entered the "in the right role" stage of his career. Mission: Impossible films are still his bread and butter, while "Jack Reacher" was definitely not that. Oblivion was kind of a half measure along the way to this film, and which necessarily had to bury its premise to keep the surprise. With Edge of Tomorrow, things are all out on the surface, or at least the important parts that will sell the movie, and it makes for a more attractive package to sci-fi audiences, who are a fickle bunch when it comes to non-franchised material. This ought to at least match the $37 million opening of Oblivion, but may not exceed it by all that much. I'd expect a weekend take of $40 million.
Returning films will be led by Maleficent, which continued Disney's very good, spectacular, pretty OK year with an opening weekend of just under $70 million. By far Angelina Jolie's biggest opening weekend total, even throwing in things like Kung Fu Panda, it's all the more impressive for the fact of being sold almost entirely on her name. Despite the family focus of the film, I don't expect there to be a lot of legs, as reviews were not great, and advance hype pretty much took care of its audience. It'll still be in the mix for the top spots on the weekend, with about $37 million.
X-Men: Days of Future Past did the expected thing for a comic book movie, dropping by nearly two-thirds from its Memorial Day total. Of course, it's going to be entering the weekend at about $175 million, so *tiny fiddle*. For its third weekend, look for around $14 million, as it moves towards a final total of $220-240 million.
Seth MacFarlane couldn't make lightning strike twice, as A Million Ways to Die in the West earned just $17 million in its debut, about a third of what Ted earned. One bright spot – people were still willing to give him a chance despite the terribleness of the ads for this. Next time, bring funny. Give it $7 million for its second frame.