the fault in our stars

“The Fault in Our Stars” launched to an astounding $48.2 million this weekend, justifying 20th Century Fox’s gamble that summer crowds would show up to a low-budget romance about cancer patients in the height of popcorn movie season.

The film eclipsed the $29.1 million take of the week’s other new premiere “Edge of Tomorrow.” Combined with the success of last spring’s “Divergent,” this  love story has solidified Shailene Woodley’s place on the A-list and has further demonstrated the power of young adult audiences. “The Fault in Our Stars” is based on a best-selling novel by John Green.

“Girls rule at the box office when a property like this resonates with a young female audience,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, said.

Initially, it appeared that “The Fault in Our Stars” might soar even higher, but the picture dropped sharply on Saturday, with grosses falling 52%.  The $12 million romantic drama screened in 3,171 theaters, and has now made back its production costs more than four times over in a single weekend.

“Edge of Tomorrow” was not so fortunate. Produced for $178 million, the Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow film was well-reviewed, but struggled to find a toe-hold in a summer filled with special effects-fueled entertainments. Its debut is disappointing given the amount of time and treasure that went into its production. Its reception demonstrates the difficulty of launching a film that does not offer a globally recognized toy or comic book character.

Warner Bros. will now peg the film’s hopes of profitability on foreign crowds, where it is likely to pass the $100 million mark cumulatively at the international box office this weekend, and on word-of-mouth.

“Audiences are embracing it,” Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros., said. “As word-of-mouth spreads, our hope is that we’ll get to a place where we’re maximizing our audience.”

In its second week of release, Walt Disney’s “Maleficent” snagged runner-up position at the weekend box office, with $33.5 million across 3,948 locations.

Of the holdovers, Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” racked up $14.7  million, bringing its total to just shy of $190 million domestically, while Universal’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West” fell 57% to $7.2 million. The Seth MacFarlane western parody has now racked up a middling $30.1 million domestically after two weeks of release.

Premium formats were major contributors to “Edge of Tomorrow’s” haul. Domestically, Imax screenings added $4.2 million to its take and overseas the wide screen format delivered $7.3 million. Likewise, 3D continued to rebound from the low point it hit last summer, delivering 47% of “Edge’s” domestic gross.

In limited release, Open Road Films’ “Chef” continued to impress. The Jon Favreau comedy about a food truck entrepreneur added $2.6 million to its gross after expanding from 624 to 1,298 locations. Its domestic total now stands at $10.4 million after five weeks. The studio said it will look to continue adding new locations next week, though the number of additional theaters has yet to be determined.

“It’s that counter-programming movie,” Jason Cassidy, president of marketing at Open Road Films, said. “It’s the film in the arena that’s broken through this summer. It’s serving that need for people with a brain who are interested in seeing something emotional and resonant.”

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