With the success of The Fault in Our Stars staring studios in the face, it may be a case for aiming their future films to a new demographic although that may not be the only reason that the teenage weepy did so well, it could be ageism. Especially since the main competition was 51 year-old “action-man” star Tom Cruise. The older actor may be working very hard to stay in cinematic shape and he definitely looks younger in his latest science fiction re-spawning effort, Edge of Tomorrow, but teenage girls are not going to flock to his movie no matter how much he’s had done in terms of the old nip and tuck. If Cruise has had anything done at all.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember in terms of bums on seats, is that some of this year’s most popular films, which did not star everyone’s BFF Jennifer Lawrence, featured strong and young female protagonists. In other words, Divergent, which did very well in the box office helped to set up Shailene Woodley for her next film and a role very different from her science fiction version of Katniss Everdeen.
Of course the main reason that Woodley and her film, The Fault in Our Stars has done so well could have more to do with the target demographic of the John Green novel’s existing audience rather than some sort of ageism towards Cruise and his middle-aged attempt to woo a younger audience.
The book itself was so popular that Shailene Woodley approached the author long before she went up for the part of cancer victim Hazel Grace. Woodley loved the book so much that she wrote a 40 page letter demanding that Green adapt his novel for the big screen. Apparently, The Fault in Our Stars actress was not alone in her love of the book.
This Young Adult novel, apart from sitting on the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller list for a phenomenal 78 weeks, was also named best book of the year by Time magazine. It has been pointed out in other articles that this was best book, not best Young Adult book of 2014. These two facts show that almost any adaptation of the novel would garner a certain amount of success.
Regardless of just why The Fault in Our Stars has knocked the stuffing out of the Tom Cruise vehicle, it seems clear that studios have found another potential Twilight film cash cow. Hollywood has been on the lookout for another tween romance to capture that Stephanie Meyer audience for quite some time.
With the box office returns forecast to pull in around $58 million during its opening weekend in the U.S. it looks as though Woodley’s second vehicle could beat the $54 million that Divergent pulled in on its first weekend. For the film’s makers, this projected profit for a film that only cost $12 million to make must have 20th Century Fox delirious with joy.
The success of The Fault in Our Stars may be down to the new female oriented demographic or a type of ageism. Whatever factor has been instrumental in the movies beating Tom Cruise at the box office, the fact remains that Shailene Woodley has proved that she can carry a film and has done so twice. What will be interesting in the future is just how well a Woodley film performs against a Jennifer Lawrence film instead of an older Tom Cruise movie.
By Michael Smith