Box office: 'If I Stay' tops sluggish Friday numbers

The teen tragedy 'If I Stay' opened atop what looks to be a slow weekend for box-office numbers

“If I Stay”, a teen love story of sorrow and grief, topped a sluggish box office Friday, leading a late-summer season marked by villains in space, a Ninja Turtles comeback and the inky, graphic-novel violence of a city in sin and a dame in trouble.

Based on the 2009 bestselling book by Gayle Forman, “If I Stay,” starring Chloe Grace Moretz, took in $6.8 million. The film reaffirmed that teen tragedies -- first loves, woeful gazes -- lifted from popular young-adult novels have been a force, if not always a critical success, at the box office this year. “If I Stay” follows the earlier prominence of “The Fault in Our Stars," which has so far grossed at least $124 million.

Interstellar wit, heroics and a well-armed raccoon helped “Guardians of the Galaxy” finish second on Friday with an estimated $4.8 million. Since opening several weeks ago, the Marvel film has grossed more than $239 million. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” finished third with $4.5 million, and “Let’s Be Cops,” starring Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson, finished fourth with $3.2 million.  

The much anticipated “Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” finished sixth in its opening day, with $2.6 million. The film did not fare well with the critics. The New York Times said of the sequel to 2005's “Sin City”: “[T]he dudes are still damaged, the dames remain deadly, and the neo-noir aesthetic still possesses an assaultive force. That’s one reason the sequel’s addition of 3-D is not just unnecessary but counterproductive.”  

A tale of a car accident and the aftermath of tragedy in a snow-swept Oregon, “If I Stay” also proved uneven with the critics. The Seattle Times said: “In a summer that brought us a very good movie about a dying teenage girl (‘The Fault in Our Stars’), it seems statistically unlikely that we might get another -- and, indeed, we don’t.”

Times critic Kenneth Turan wrote that “if deep-dish cinematic love stories are your vice of choice, the pleasure of this film is watching the interplay between Mia (luminously portrayed by Chloe Grace Moretz) and boyfriend Adam (dishy British actor Jamie Blackley) as their dreamy relationship unfolds on the screen in a series of flashbacks.”

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