While sitting in Theater One of the Landmark Glendale 12 on Keystone Ave. Thursday night, preparing to watch one of the earliest public viewings of “The Fault in Our Stars” in order to review it for Indianapolis Monthly, I noticed one major thing: I was in the minority.
As a 23-year-old, male college student who has been reading John Green’s novels since his junior year of high school, it was clear I was not the movie’s target audience and I have no problem with that. TFIOS is now the biggest pre-selling romantic drama in Fandango’s history.
TFIOS’ hype/success has already guaranteed we’ll get a “Paper Towns” adaptation and that means hopefully a “An Abundance of Katherines” movie down the line.
From the time I walked in after purchasing my ticket at 8:15 p.m,. to when the lights dimmed 45 minutes later, it wasn’t even a contest.
Having read all of Green’s solo-novels, “Looking for Alaska,” “An Abundance of Katherines,” “Paper Towns” and now TFIOS, I’ve been confounded as to why it was his fourth book that turned into phenomenon, complete with its own library of Twitter hashtags and Tumblr pages, when (in my opinion) his other works were superior in every way.
Now I was seeing first hand why.
We live in a post-Twilight world, where all of the major-movie adaptations of Young Adult novels seem to be focused on female protagonists, involved some sort of love story and a major conflict: vampires vs werewolves, teenagers fighting to the death (for freedom?), whatever “Divergent” is about and now love vs cancer.
I don’t say a “post-Harry Potter world” because Potter mania lasted for more than a decade and nothing was able to quite copy the formula (Percy Jackson tried) which attracted the coveted four-quadrant viewership. It was unique from “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games,” and “Divergent” (serious, what was that movie about?) in that someone from my demo could say they were excited about seeing it and not risk receiving a sideways glance from other members of my demo.
Since it’s the weekend of release it’s too soon to say where TFIOS reputation will fall in the months and years that follow. But here’s my experience with the opening salvo.
At 8:15 p.m., not counting parents who were clearly chaperons, the audience make up was 14:4 in favor of female ticket buyers.
Two women in their late teens entered the theater shortly after. One said to the other, with popcorn in her mouth, “I can’t wait to cry.”
— Lindsey Rousseau (@linnysue17) June 6, 2014
At 8:20 a group of six girls and two boys, shepherded by two mothers, made the count 31-7.
“Okay, everybody get in.”
It’s six minutes later and a gaggle of seven teenagers, including two younger brothers, shift in their seats two rows behind me and start posing for a”selfie” taken by one girl’s iPad.
One kid tells another to “switch with me” moments before the picture is taken.
At 8:29 an adult, Hispanic couple takes their seats at the lower right of the main seating area. They’re immediately followed by the most interesting, for me, grouping of the night. Three generations of women, a daughter, mother and grandmother, entered the theater in that order.
By 8:34, the ratio is 64:13 (+/- 4). Behind me, a group of four girls sound like they’re trying to talk each other into starting a chant:
“I say fault, you say stars.”
They don’t chant.
At 8:42 (73:13) the movie screen turns blue as a countdown from 10 commences at the top in white numerals. When it ends, the annoying pre-movie “entertainment” begins.
The ratio becomes 85:19 at 8:50 when a girl walks in talking on her cell phone with friends who are already in the theater.
She’s quickly followed by two more girls, who are greeted by one guy who excitedly stumbles over legs of already seated friends in order to give each a hug.
“You’re embarrassing yourself,” a friend says. “Go home, you’re drunk.”
At 8:57, the final count was 95:20. Three minutes later the lights dimmed as trailers play for “If I Stay” (love vs death and ghosts and stuff), “Earth to Echo” (love child of “E.T.,” “Chronicle,” and “Super 8”), “The Giver” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
The movie started. Audience met girl. Girl met boy. Girl and boy flirted. Boy gives one of many cheesy romantic speeches, causing one audience member to say, “Oh my God, please stop” while holding back tears.
A good chunk of the audience lets out a surprised gasp when they see a banner for Indianapolis high school North Central in the movie. .
During the final moments the auditorium is filled with more sniffles and crying than I’ve ever heard in one place. And I saw “Toy Story 3” in theaters.
It ends and the lights come up as some pop song is heard over the closing credits. Behind me, I hear one girl say to a friend:
“I’m not crying, I’m emotionally compromised.”