"The Fault in Our Stars" debuted to a stunning $8.2 million in late night showings Thursday, as fans flooded multiplexes to see the tragic romance.
The film about two cancer patients who fall in love is shaping up to be the summer's first breakout hit; a drama produced on a shoestring that has been able to outperform massive tentpole releases.
Its fantastic debut includes figures from "The Night Before Our Stars," a fan event that offered simulcast interviews with the film's stars in addition to a screening of the picture. Tickets for that special offering sold for $25 a pop.
Starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, "The Fault in Our Stars" is on pace to make $35 million this weekend, although 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the film, is being more conservative and pegging the opening in the mid-$20 million range. It now expands to 3,171 theaters.
Produced for $12 million, the well-reviewed adaptation of John Green's best-selling novel should double or triple its production budget in a single weekend.
The weekend's other new release, "Edge of Tomorrow" bowed to $1.8 million in its late night runs. That's better than Tom Cruise's most recent star turn in "Oblivion," which netted $1.1 million in its late night showings en route to a $37 million opening, but the expensive picture faces several hurdles if it wants to become profitable.
"Edge of Tomorrow" focuses on a slick public relations officer who is forced to relive the same bloody battle against alien invaders. It debuts across more than 3,490 U.S. locations this weekend, including Imax and 3D showings, and could hit $30 million.
After a slow start, the Doug Liman-directed tentpole picked up steam at the foreign box office, opening to impressive numbers in South Korea this week after rolling out in nearly 30 foreign markets last weekend. So far, "Edge of Tomorrow" has earned $33 million worldwide.
The $178 million film, co-starring Emily Blunt, was financed by Village Roadshow and Warner Bros. and will need to capitalize on its sterling critical notices and word-of-mouth to build momentum if it wants to break even during its theatrical release.
Related storiesBox Office: 'Edge of Tomorrow' Racks Up Impressive Korea DebutRegal Entertainment Forecasts Strong Environment for Theater AcquisitionsBox Office: 'Fault in Our Stars' Aligning to Be Summer Breakout Hit 2014 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLCCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun