It's being called the Love Story of a new generation. Young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars continues to perform at the box office in ways executives probably had only dreamed. Conversely Edge of Tomorrow has mostly been the thing of nightmares as (at least domestically) it can't catch a break.
The Fault in Our Stars
Finish: 1st place / Est. budget: $12 million / 3-day estimated total: $48 million
Everyone expected The Fault in Our Stars to do well, but after taking in slightly over $8 million during its first Thursday night showings, analysts quickly revised their projections. While the final number could still fluctuate, Stars is going to likely finish around $48 million. That's lower than the $50 million to $55 million estimates that seemed possible on Friday, but it's still good enough to become one of the year's most successful non-franchise non-tentpole films.
This is impressive and not just for the studio. It's also a huge boon to the publishing business, which has seen a major windfall over the last decade with the book-to-theater adaptions of Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. With The Giver and The Maze Runner due out before the year's end, that trend should continue.
Yet Stars was special because it's not a franchise, it's one and done. It has proven that young adult books don't need to be a series to be a hit at the box office. Author John Green acknowledged recently he doesn't plan to do a sequel. He does though plan to bring another one of his novels, Paper Towns, to the big screen with Fox again distributing and Fault co-star Nat Wolff in the lead.
As for lead Shailene Woodley, her banner 2014 continues and she still has White Bird in a Blizzard slated for the fall.
So far Fox is three for three this summer (if you count The Other Woman, which blew out the box office during the final week of April; technically that's not summer, but the season's bled into April and September). No matter how you look at it Fox is having a good frame. X-Men: Days of Future Past is still going strong and Stars is posed for a strong run -- it's earned an A grade from audiences, according to Cinemascore, so expect beneficial word of mouth ... and perhaps second trips for viewers to see what they missed because they were crying too hard.
Next week the studio debuts the sequel to How to Train Your Dragon, which will be Fox's third top-tier release in just four weeks.
It's not just the summer that looks good for Fox -- in addition to July's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and August's buddy comedy Let's Be Cops, the fall brings two more literary adaptations in the aforementioned Maze Runner and Gillian Flynn's highly anticipated Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck and directed by David Fincher.
Warner Brothers (a subsidiary of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX))
Edge of Tomorrow
Finish: 3rd place / Est. budget: $178 million / 3-day estimated total: $29 million
Tom Cruise's bankability has taken a major punch domestically over the years, but internationally he remains a big success. With Edge of Tomorrow that trend is likely to continue -- the film won't quite be able to top $30 million, which will be at least $7 million less than the box office take for last spring's Oblivion.
You have to go back to 2005 and War of the Worlds to find the last time he opened a non-franchise film to above $30 million. Even though Edge won't do gangbusters, the fact that both this and Oblivion were higher than he's scored in a while mean it's possible he's close to regaining his form with American crowds. Even though audiences weren't that impressed, the critics were -- despite a terrible start the movie has a Rotten Tomatoes ranking of 89%.
Still if the movie's going to break even on its $178 million production budget, domestic audiences have made it clear it's going to come from foreign receipts. Internationally the film is doing what it was expected to do after a surprisingly rough first weekend that netted just $20 million. As of now the movie has topped $100 million with a release in Japan still a few weeks off. China, as expected, is one of the film's strongest markets so far, which has embraced the film and boosted it above Oblivion's take.
After a strong start with Godzilla, Warner Brothers has now taken back-to-back blows with the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore comedy Blended bombing and now Tomorrow failing to take off. Including the failure of Transcendence in April and this week's announcement that the Wachowski siblings' Jupiter Ascending will be pushed to 2015, Warner Brothers has hit a slump.
This is the second time in three weeks Fox and Warner Brothers have had the two biggest films of the weekend going head-to-head, and again Fox has come out on top. Still there is some good news on the horizon so investors don't need to be scared off -- the Jersey Boys musical and Melissa McCarthy laugher Tammy are set to unspool in the coming weeks and both are expected to do great so help is on the way.
Brett Gold has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.