Weekend Box Office (June 6 - 8, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Teen girls and young women ruled the multiplexes as the tearjerker The Fault In Our Stars generated a spectacular opening grossing an estimated $48.2M which quadrupled its production cost. The PG-13 film based on the best-selling romance novel was mostly a one-quadrant film, but the turnout was so incredible that it was able to beat every other film in the marketplace including Angelina Jolie's smash hit Maleficent and Tom Cruise's new action tentpole Edge of Tomorrow.

Fault averaged a sizzling $15,191 per theater from 3,173 locations and had no help from 3D or IMAX prices as films that open at number one often have. However, Fox did hold special showings on Thursday night which included a live simulcast with the cast and crew which became a hot event for fans. Giving customers a direct link to celebrities holds a lot of value, and this tactic paid off. Tickets were $25 each and numerous shows were sold out. Look for other studios to copy this stunt.

Weekend business was incredibly front-loaded as $26.1M of the take was generated on opening day Friday which included $8.2M from Thursday night shows which itself included both the $25 tickets and regular pre-shows from 9pm onwards. Fault came into the marketplace with electric buzz and potent social media chatter. It was a can't-miss event for fans and they came out in droves. Fans liked what they got as the CinemaScore grade was a solid A.

Star Shailene Woodley helped to excite fans as she is red hot this year coming off of headlining the new Divergent franchise which also did big numbers driven by a young female fan base in March. Reviews were generally good. Studio research showed that Fault skewed 82% female and 79% to an under-25 audience. This crowd has become increasingly difficult to get into a movie theater so the film demonstrated how strong the book's brand was.

Fault opened bigger than most every other romantic drama in history beating out hits like Channing Tatum's The Vow ($41.2M) and Dear John ($30.5M) plus coming very close to last summer's 3D spectacle The Great Gatsby ($50.1M) starring Leonardo DiCaprio. This film used female starpower instead of a male heartthrob to drive in sales.

Angelina Jolie enjoyed a respectable hold for her fairy tale adventure Maleficent which settled for second place in its second weekend with an estimated $33.5M. The 52% drop was reasonable given the huge debut it was coming off of - Jolie's biggest ever. The Disney hit actually ranked number one on both Saturday and Sunday, but lost the weekend crown thanks to Fault's massive upfront showing on Thursday night and Friday. With $127.4M to date, Maleficent looks to be on course to finish with around $210M in North America.

Overseas markets once again delivered muscular numbers. The family-friendly pic grossed an estimated $59.7M boosting the international total to $208.1M and the global haul to $335.5M with plenty more to go as China and Japan have yet to open. Just as her fiancé Brad Pitt did last summer with World War Z, Jolie is set to surpass all previous films in her career and see Maleficent become her highest grossing film of all-time.

Not setting career records, Tom Cruise's latest big-budget action film Edge of Tomorrow opened in third place with an estimated $29.1M which was about right for what he attracts these days in these kinds of movies. The Warner Bros. release averaged $8,340 from 3,490 locations and played to a crowd of sci-fi-loving adult men. Studio research showed that the crowd was 61% male and 73% over 25.

Film critics were praising Edge but popcorn crowds thought it was just ok. The CinemaScore was a decent B+. Now in his fourth decade of entertaining the masses, Cruise does not attract as broad of a moviegoing audience as he used to, in North America at least. Plus this was the fourth action tentpole in just six weeks. But the fans that did come out for Edge spent solid amounts on the PG-13 film's premium options. 47% of the gross came from 3D screens and 14% came from the 349 IMAX locations. Both are impressive shares by today's standards.

Overall, the $178M-budgeted Edge opened in the same range as two of last summer's star-driven futuristic sci-fi action films which were also non-sequels. Will Smith's critically-panned After Earth bowed to $27.5M while Matt Damon's R-rated Elysium debuted to $29.8M. Tomorrow opened 22% below the $37.1M of Tom Cruise's last film Oblivion which was also a sci-fi action flick set in the future. Doing similar movies back to back may have led some audiences to feel as if they did not need to check in this other time around.

Edge of Tomorrow was built to make the bulk of its money from around the world and so far the action pic is delivering strong numbers. This weekend saw a solid $82M in sales boosting the international take to $111M including the handful of markets which debuted a week earlier. This weekend was ruled by strong bows in China, Korea, and Russia. With $140.1M to date and Japan (a big market for Cruise) still to come on July 4, Edge should be able to surpass at least $350M globally.

The mutant tentpole X-Men: Days of Future Past fell 55% in its third weekend to an estimated $14.7M pushing the cume to $189.1M. That's about even with the 53% drop that 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand saw on its third weekend after releasing at the same time on the calendar. Future is running 7% behind the pace of Stand which is the top-grossing film domestically for the seven-film franchise.

Seth MacFarlane's Western misfire A Million Ways to Die in the West followed its underwhelming opening with a sharp 57% tumble in the sophomore frame. Universal took in an estimated $7.2M for the R-rated comedy putting the cume at $30.1M on its way to $45-50M. Godzilla was off 51% to an estimated $6M lifting the total tally to $185M for Warner Bros. Global gross is $393.7M.

The Seth Rogen-Zac Efron hit Neighbors followed with an estimated $5.2M, off just 36%, for a $137.8M cume for Universal. The R-rated pic has now surpassed studio stablemate Ride Along to become the top-grossing comedy of 2014. A film not making people laugh is Adam Sandler's Blended which fell 50% to an estimated $4.1M for a lackluster $36.5M to date.

A wide expansion for Jon Favreau's indie hit Chef kept it in the top ten with sales of an estimated $2.6M, up 36%. Open Road has banked $10.4M to date and may be headed for around $17M or so. Summer kickoff film The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fell 50% to an estimated $1.9M for $196.3M domestic and a hefty $699.3M worldwide. A large 72% of global box office has come from outside of North America.

The first weekend of June has come and gone but no May film has crossed $200M yet. This hasn't happened since 2006. Future Past will easily get there, Godzilla has a shot, and the webslinger sequel will probably squeak by the double century mark. Normally there is at least one megahit at this stage of the season capable of crossing $250M, but none of the summer films so far will do it.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $152.4M which was up 8% from last year when The Purge opened at number one with $34.1M; but off 11% from 2012 when Madagascar 3 debuted on top with $60.3M.

Compared to projections, The Fault In Our Stars soared higher than my $37M forecast while Edge of Tomorrow was on target with my $30M prediction.

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Watch the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy. For a review of X-Men visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2 both open.


Last Updated: June 8, 2014 at 2:35PM ET

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