‘Fault in Our Stars’ Trumps Cruise for Box Office Lead

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- “The Fault in Our Stars,” an emotional drama about two young cancer patients who fall in love, outsold the latest Tom Cruise movie to open in first place over the weekend for 21st Century Fox Inc.

The movie, starring Shailene Woodley, collected $48 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, Rentrak Corp. said in an e-mailed statement today. Warner Bros’s “Edge of Tomorrow,” a sci-fi thriller starring Cruise, placed third with $28.8 million, behind the previous weekend’s top film, “Maleficent.”

“The Fault in Our Stars,” based on the 2012 best-selling novel by John Green, marks another example of a female-led movie that connected with audiences, following recent hits like “Frozen,” “Maleficent” and “The Hunger Games” films. Woodley starred in “Divergent,” which also featured co-star Ansel Elgort and opened in first place in March.

“Never underestimate the box office clout of young women,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “Hollywood is always chasing the male audience and they should realize the female audience will chase them when they deliver something that they can relate to and talk about amongst their friends.”

The movie broke the record at Fandango for the most advance ticket sales for a love story since the website started operating 14 years ago. The previous high was “The Vow,” Sony Corp.’s 2012 film with Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams.

Of those who bought “The Fault in Our Stars” tickets, most have read Green’s book and seen “Divergent,” the teen-warrior film from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., according to a survey by the online ticket site.

In Love

“‘Fault’ already has an army of fans,” said Fandango’s chief correspondent, Dave Karger, in an e-mail. “Strong buzz for the film and its young stars are turning the big-screen adaptation into that rare summer hit that’s neither a sequel nor a superhero story.”

“The Fault in Our Stars,” also featuring Willem Dafoe, had been projected to garner $49 million in a forecast by BoxOffice.com. It was made in the Netherlands and Pennsylvania, for an estimated $12 million, according to IMDB.

Woodley and Elgort play Hazel and Gus, two teenagers who fall in love and who share an unconventional view on life heightened by their individual battles with cancer. When they travel to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive author of a book Hazel is obsessed with, they find their idealism tested by the novelist’s world-weary cynicism.

The film opened to favorable reviews, scoring an 81 percent positive rating on Rottentomatoes.com, a reviews aggregator.

Alien Race

“‘Fault’ is about as hearts-and-flowers as it gets,” wrote Betsy Sharkey in a review for the Los Angeles Times. “There are stolen kisses, longing looks and gauzy montages all set to mood-appropriate alt-rock.”

“Edge of Tomorrow,” made for an estimated $178 million according to Box Office Mojo, was projected to collect $30 million in its opening for Warner Bros.

The film’s actual opening-weekend total fell short of the $37 million taken in by Cruise’s “Oblivion” in April 2013. That movie, a $120 million production from Universal, went on to gross $286.2 million worldwide, an amount split with theaters, according to Box Office Mojo.

“Edge of Tomorrow,” which features Emily Blunt, was directed by Doug Liman, who helmed 2002’s acclaimed “The Bourne Identity” with Matt Damon, and received high critical praise with an 89 percent positive rating on Rottentomatoes.com.

Time Loop

Cruise plays Major William Cage, an officer who finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with an alien race. His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer to defeating the enemy.

“Maleficent” earned $34.3 million in its second weekend for Walt Disney Co. against a projection of $29 million by BoxOffice.com. The film features Angelina Jolie and has taken in $128.2 million domestically, according to Rentrak.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films rose 8.8 percent to $153.8 million from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales year-to-date are $4.45 billion, up 2.6 percent from a year earlier.

The following table has U.S. movie box office figures provided by studios to Rentrak Corp. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales from June 6 to June 8.

                     Rev.  Pct.               Avg./  Total
Movie               (mln)  Chg. Theaters   Theater (mln)  Wks
1 FAULT IN OUR STARS 48.0  --    3,173   15,128     48.0    1
2 MALEFICENT         34.3  -51   3,948    8,695    128.2    2
3 EDGE OF TOMORROW   28.8  --    3,490    8,241     28.8    1
4 X-MEN: DAYS OF     15.2  -53   3,639    4,165    189.6    3
5 MILLION WAYS        7.3  -56   3,160    2,325     30.3    2
6 GODZILLA            6.1  -49   3,110    1,968    185.2    4
7 NEIGHBORS           5.3  -34   2,674    1,991    137.9    5
8 BLENDED             4.1  -49   2,928    1,408     36.6    3
9 CHEF                2.6  37    1,298    2,020     10.4    5
10 Million Dollar Arm 2.0  -44   1,643    1,233     31.6    4

Top 10 Films Grosses:

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
    $153.8       $141.4        +8.8

Year-to-date Revenue:

     2014          2013
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
    $4,449         $4,337      +2.6

Source: Rentrak Corp.

To contact the reporters on this story: Anousha Sakoui in London at asakoui@bloomberg.net; Dan Hart in Washington at dahart@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net; Sylvia Wier at swier@bloomberg.net; Stephen Cunningham at scunningha10@bloomberg.net Ben Livesey, James Callan

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