Fault in Our Stars Goes Supernova; Tomorrow Implodes
By John Hamann
June 8, 2014
Like Maleficent last weekend, we needed to see the Saturday number for The Fault in our Stars, as the data from Thursday and Friday were not enough to peg the weekend. If Fault become more than an opening day sensation – if word-of-mouth spread through social media like wildfire – the Saturday would have held better than a Twilight film. After all, that series was notorious for low weekend multipliers. A weekend multiplier (weekend box office divided by Friday box office) gives an indication of how front-loaded a film is, and how the Saturday and Sunday did compared to the Friday. We knew that the Fox release was going to be front-loaded, but the question was exactly how much, and if those popular Thursday screenings would suck up some of the effect. The result for Fault in our Stars was a drop off on Saturday of 52% (compared to previews and Friday), as it picked up another $12.5 million, and Sunday was estimated at $9.6 million (off 23% from Saturday).
That gives The Fault in our Stars a sizzling weekend total of $48.2 million from 3,173 venues for 20th Century Fox. Fault had a historically low weekend multiplier of 1.85, which indicates that it was as front-loaded as anything we've ever seen, at least on opening weekend. Still, it becomes one of the biggest openers ever for a no-action, little-comedy drama. For Shailene Woodley, this is another feather in her cap, as she takes another step toward becoming the next Jennifer Lawrence. She got started in the George Clooney/Alexander Payne drama The Descendants (89% fresh, $82.6 million domestic total), went on to The Spectacular Now (93% fresh, $6.9 million domestic total), and then did Divergent (41% fresh, $148 million domestic, $267 million worldwide). The Fault in our Stars earned an 82% fresh rating, and an A rating at Cinemascore. Whereas Woodley’s The Descendants was akin to Lawrence’s The Winter’s Bone and Divergent is analagous to The Hunger Games, Woodley now has a comparison to Silver Linings Playbook. Also, she has three Divergent sequels in the queue, a la Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The girl is going to be huge.
The real winner with The Fault in our Stars is 20th Century Fox and a production company called Temple Hill Entertainment. Temple Hill was a production company on the Twilight Saga, has produced some Nicolas Sparks offerings (Dear John, Safe Haven), and the popular TV show Revenge. One can see how their first two offerings led to The Fault in our Stars, as it borrows the teen angst from Twilight and puts it into a Sparks-type weeper. Made for only $12 million, The Fault in our Stars was profitable by Saturday afternoon – this is not a case where its gross matched its budget amount or even where it doubled the budget, leaving only the marketing costs. Fault tripled its budget by Saturday afternoon, and by the end of day on Sunday had likely paid for every expense associated with it. Should the manipulative nature of it feed word-of-mouth – like The Notebook ($13.5 million opening, $81 million finish) or Love Story ($106.4 million domestic total in 1970), The Fault in our Stars could become a story for the box office ages. The dramatic front loading on opening weekend creates a great deal of doubt about that possibility, though.
Finishing second is Maleficent, as Tom Cruise gets powered down by nerdfighters AND Disney family moviegoers. After debuting to a powerful $69.4 million last weekend, Maleficent held well this weekend (considering the size of the opening). The Angelina Jolie Disney flick earned $33.5 million in its second weekend, off a not bad 52% compared to the opening frame. I think it’s important to remember that females were busy with The Fault in our Stars, so this kind of sophomore weekend shows that Maleficent is working with families, and that the film is not too dark for kids. Maleficent followed the success of Oz the Great and Powerful, as it fell 48% after opening to $79 million, and Maleficent’s hold was better than Snow White and the Huntsmen, which after opening to $56.2 million, fell 59% to $23 million. Maleficent crossed the $100 million mark on Friday night, its eighth day of release, and joins Men in Black, Twilight, and Brad Pitt’s World War Z as other films that earned $100 million in eight days. The Disney film, with the $180 million price tag, has now earned $127.4 million domestically, and should touch $200 million stateside. Overseas, Maleficent has earned $208 million, and while these numbers are good, the movie will need to earn a half-billion worldwide for the studio to see a profit.