The modestly-budgeted The Fault In Our Stars (Fox has said it was $12M; others said it was $16 but more like $14M after the tax incentive) will gross over $300M worldwide by week’s end for Fox. If ever there was a perfect storm in releasing a film, this was it. This picture slogged through the monsters, the superheroes and the animated dragons of the summer to become one of the most profitable pictures in recent memory.
How did it happen? It didn’t hurt that the film was based on a bestselling book by John Green, but even still, that was far from a lock to getting it onto the big screen. This was a project that was pushed and pushed by producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey who nudged Fox executive Elizabeth Gabler into making the film. The exec said yes with a caveat: Keep a handle on the budget. It was a risk: A love story between two kids with cancer, but it was a well-written script — adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber. Erin Siminoff, the day-to-day production person, kept a watchful eye on the budget of the film, which delivered thanks to director Josh Boone and the online chemistry between the two stars, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Incidentally, Bowen and Godfrey are also behind The Maze Runner which opens this weekend — another YA novel adapted for the big screen, albeit not as well as Fault.
The Fault In Our Stars also bowed after Lionsgate’s Divergent which blazed the way for these two Fault stars — both domestically but especially internationally. It had a perfect-as-could-get trailer devised by Cami Sargent that danced well around the dire topic of cancer to spark interest across the country. Fox marketing executives smartly let the trailer ride for a long while. Why change a good thing when you have it, right? The number of people who watch the official YouTube trailer easily passed the trailers for … wait for it … Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Almost overnight, the YouTube views passed 20M.
The driving force? The social media imprint forged by author Green, who has a huge YouTube following from he and brother Hank’s Vlogbrothers, a 7-year-old YouTube site with 2.1 million subscribers. George Dewey’s digital team, those in publicity, marketing and promotion rode the wave nicely. It didn’t hurt that both Woodley and Elgort have their own significant social-media followings.
Months before the film’s release, the buzz on the film was huge, especially among young girls … you know that demographic that put a little movie called Titanic over the top. Pre-opening ticket sales were high and those girls ended up coming to see Fault … in packs. The tracking showed it would open huge, but no one could have predicted how well it would: $48M when the dust cleared on that Monday morning. It ended at $124.8M.
As it was enjoying its domestic run, it moved overseas where Divergent had already played out with Woodley and Elgort playing brother and sister. How that would translate, making the transition from siblings to lovers, was a risk. But audiences didn’t blink. Fault In Our Stars opened overseas fantastic business in Brazil as counterprogramming to the World Cup, and last month opened strong in South Korea amid a field of testosterone-fueled local pics. It did stellar business in Latin America. The international total is now $175.1M and it’s still playing on 1,972 theaters in 12 markets. It’ll hit $300M by tomorrow or Saturday.