LOS ANGELES — The 20th Century Fox snifflefest “The Fault in Our Stars” took in $48.2 million in the U.S. and Canada over the weekend, according to an estimate Sunday from distributor Fox, surpassing early projections and easily beating the new Tom Cruise sci-fi epic “Edge of Tomorrow.”
Ticket sales for “The Fault in Our Stars” were expected to be in the $35 million to $45 million range, but it became clear that a bigger return was written in the stars after the film’s Friday box office totaled $26 million. Its three-day box-office total is more than four times the cost of the romantic drama, which had a price tag of $12 million.
Adapted from John Green’s wildly popular young adult novel, the film explores the relationship between teen cancer patients played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
Directed by Josh Boone, the movie received an A from audience polling firm CinemaScore. The bulk of moviegoers were females younger than 25.
“It was more than an OK opening number,” said Chris Aronson, head of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox, giving a nod to a popular expression in the book. “This is a film that has tremendous playability, and I think the general audience will continue to find us as the weeks go on.”
The surprisingly strong weekend for “Fault” and a similarly successful opening the weekend before for Disney’s “Maleficent” may answer questions about the power of catering to female audiences during a season traditionally outfitted with male-slanted action and superhero films.
“I think the answer lies in the box office,” Aronson said. “It’s pretty extraordinary, and it shouldn’t be easily dismissed.”
The Cruise vehicle “Edge of Tomorrow,” meanwhile, didn’t shine quite as brightly. The splashy Warner Bros.-Village Roadshow picture took in $29.1 million, with its play in Imax theaters contributing to 14 percent of its gross, according to an estimate from Warner Bros.
The Doug Liman-directed film stars Cruise as a military spin doctor caught in a “Groundhog Day”-esque cycle of war and defeat. The movie, which co-stars Emily Blunt, was critically lauded and received a B-plus audience grade from CinemaScore, which said 61 percent of viewers were male.
The praise wasn’t enough to help “Edge of Tomorrow” cruise past last week’s box-office queen, Disney’s “Maleficent.” The Angelina Jolie film ranked No.2 with $33.5 million and crossed the $100 million mark, bringing its domestic total to more than $127 million after 10 days of release.
At No. 3 for the weekend, “Edge of Tomorrow” came in slightly below its projected total, meaning the film will have to rely on Cruise’s star power in foreign markets to help recoup its estimated $178 million cost. It has made an estimated $111 million in its first 12 days of release internationally, Warner Bros. officials said Sunday.
Jeffrey Goldstein, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., downplayed the film’s below-expectations opening in the U.S. and Canada, saying the weeks ahead are what matter.
“The real test is how it does next week and the week after and the week after,” he said. “And I think we’ll find that it holds up.”
“Edge” came in significantly below the debut of Cruise’s last film, “Oblivion,” also a sci-fi epic. That film opened to $37.1 million in April 2013.
Fox’s other summer entrant, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” added $14.7 million in domestic box office in its third week, bringing its total to $189.1 million. The film already has crossed the half-billion-dollar threshold globally.
Seth MacFarlane’s R-rated comedy “A Million Ways to Die in the West” placed No.5, giddying up to $7.2 million. That brings the raunchy Western sendup’s cumulative total up to a disappointing $30.1 million.