Moviegoers will likely head to the theaters this weekend with Kleenex in one hand and tickets to the adaptation of the young adult novel “If I Stay” in the other.
The PG-13 tearjerker is expected to gross a solid $25 million in its opening weekend, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
Warner Bros., the studio releasing the film, does not believe the film will open with more than $20 million - but either way, “If I Stay” should end up ahead of the weekend’s two other debuts, graphic novel adaptation sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” and inspirational sports film “When the Game Stands Tall.”
Based on the 2009 bestselling book by Gayle Forman, "If I Stay,” co-financed and co-produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and New Line Cinema, cost about $11 million to make.
Directed by veteran documentarian R.J. Cutler, the film follows the love story of teenagers Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Adam (newcomer Jamie Blackley). Stuck in a coma after a car crash that kills her family, Mia is caught deciding between life and death.
Many are likening the film to the adaptation of John Green’s young adult novel “The Fault in Our Stars,” which launched with $48.2 million in the U.S. and Canada in June and ultimately collected $124 million.
The movie - about two teens who fall in love while battling cancer - was also popular with females under 25 and starred popular young Hollywood actors. Cutler’s film, however, is far less popular with critics: On Thursday, “If I Stay” had notched a paltry 33% on the fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with an 80% score for “Fault.”
“If I Stay” will serve as a test of box office might for its star Moretz, as the 17-year-old has her first romantic lead in the picture. The actress, who has two more films hitting theaters before the end of the year, was last seen in a remake of “Carrie” last year; the horror flick tanked at the box office with just $35 million in sales.
Fandango, the nation’s largest online movie ticket company, said Thursday the film is leading the website’s weekend ticket sales. Of the roughly 1,000 ticketbuyers that Fandango surveyed, 84% said they are familiar with Forman’s novel and 57% said they have seen “The Fault in Our Stars.”
Meanwhile, nine years after graphic novel adaptation “Sin City” hit the big screen, directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller return with the sequel, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”
But with such a large gap between the first and second films, analysts predict the film will gross about $20 million--substantially less than the $29 million the original opened with in 2005.
Distributed by The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films, the R-rated violent noir tale about femme fatales, crooked politicians and cynical antiheroes stars Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin and others.
In recent years, a handful of franchise films with large gaps between them have proved to be less popular the second time around.
Sci-fi comedy “Men in Black 2,” for example, earned roughly $190 million in the U.S. and Canada when it was released in 2002, more than the $179 million “MIB 3” grossed 10 years later in 2012.
As of Thursday, the “Sin City” sequel had a 47% on the fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with the 78% the first film earned in 2005.
“When the Game Stands Tall,” which cost Sony Pictures’ TriStar label about $15 million to make, is likely going to be the biggest disappointment of the weekend with an opening of under $10 million.
Inspired by a true story and based on a book by Neil Hayes, the film is about legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) who took the De La Salle High School football team to a 151-game winning streak.
With few recognizable stars on the roster, the film will likely draw in a younger male audience and fans of inspirational sports dramas such as “Friday Night Lights” and “Remember the Titans.” As of Thursday, the film had a 29% on the fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The newcomers will join “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” now in its third week, and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” now in its fourth week.
For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h