Hazel Grace Lancaster is an intelligent and witty teenager living in Indianapolis, who has terminal thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. Believing she is depressed, her mother Frannie urges her to attend a weekly cancer patient support group to help her make friends with individuals who are going through the same thing. There Hazel meets Augustus Waters, a charming teenager who lost a leg from bone cancer but has since apparently been cancer-free. He invites Hazel to his house where they bond over their hobbies and agree to read each other's favorite book. Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction, a novel about a cancer-stricken girl named Anna that parallels her experience, and Augustus gives Hazel Counter Insurgence. They keep in touch via text over the weeks that follow and grow closer. After Augustus finishes the book, he expresses frustration with its abrupt ending (it ends in the middle of a sentence). Hazel explains that the novel's mysterious author, Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe), retreated to Amsterdam following the novel's publication and has not been heard from since.
Weeks later, Augustus tells Hazel he has traced Van Houten's assistant, Lidewij, and has corresponded with Van Houten by email. She writes to him to find out more about the novel's ambiguous ending. Van Houten replies that he is only willing to answer her questions in person. Hazel asks her mother if she can travel to Amsterdam to visit him, but Frannie refuses because of financial and medical constraints. Augustus suggests that she use the "cancer wish" she received from Make-A-Wish Foundation but Hazel explains that she has already used hers to visit Disney World. Augustus and Hazel go on a picnic date and begin to fall in love. Augustus surprises Hazel with tickets to Amsterdam. After a medical setback, Hazel's doctors eventually agree to allow the trip, since they expect that she will soon become incapable of doing anything at all.
Hazel and Augustus arrive in Amsterdam and are presented with reservations at an expensive restaurant, pre-paid by Van Houten. During the meal, Augustus confesses his love for Hazel. The following afternoon, they go to Van Houten's house, but are shocked to find he is a mean-spirited alcoholic. Lidewij arranged the meeting and their dinner without Van Houten knowing anything about it. Angered by his assistant's actions, he taunts Hazel for seeking serious answers to a piece of fiction and belittles her medical condition. She leaves, utterly distraught. Lidewij invites them to go sightseeing to make up for their ruined experience. The three visit the Anne Frank House, where Hazel struggles to climb the house's many stairs. They spend that night together in their hotel and have sex for the first time. The next day Augustus tells Hazel that his cancer has returned and spread throughout his body and is terminal. Hazel is heartbroken, expressing how unfair life can be.
After their return to Indianapolis, Augustus' health worsens. He is taken to the ICU and realizes he is close to death. Augustus invites his blind best friend Isaac and Hazel to his pre-funeral, where they deliver eulogies that they have both prepared. Hazel tells him she would not trade their short time together for anything, since he "gave me a forever within the numbered days." Augustus dies eight days later and Hazel is astonished to find Van Houten at the funeral. He tells her that Augustus had demanded he attend his funeral to make up for the spoiled trip. Van Houten tells her that the novel is based on the experiences of his daughter Anna, who died from leukemia at a young age. He gives Hazel a piece of paper which she crumples up asking him to leave. Later, talking with Isaac, Hazel learns that Augustus had asked Van Houten to help him write a eulogy for her. She retrieves the crumpled paper and reads his words accepting his death and about his love for her. She lies on her back on her lawn looking up at the stars, smiling as she remembers Augustus and says: "Okay."
The book An Imperial Affliction, which features within both the original novel and the film, is fictitious, as is its author Peter Van Houten; both are used to enhance the themes and story.
According to Lindsey Weber of Vulture.com, the differences between the book and the film include Hazel mentioning the band the Hectic Glow many times in the book, but not in the film. Gus is 17 in the book but 18 in the film. In the book, Gus has an ex-girlfriend, Caroline, who died from cancer which is not mentioned in the film. Hazel's former best friend Kaitlyn does not appear in the film. In the book, Hazel and Gus meet when she turns around to find him staring at her, while in the film they meet on the way to their support group. Gus dies more quickly in the film than in the book. In the book, Hazel searches for the letter, while in the film, Van Houten gives it to her. In the book, Hazel shows forgiveness towards van Houten after Gus's funeral, while in the film she demands that he leave. In the book, Hazel is a vegetarian but this is not referenced in the film. A scene in the film in which Gus comes in a limousine to pick up Hazel and her mother when they are leaving for Amsterdam, does not appear in the book. However, in the book, Gus is late when Hazel and her mother arrive at his house in a taxi because he appears to be fighting with his parents over his cancer relapse and the trip. The book Augustus gives Hazel the first time they hang out is "The Price of Dawn" in the book, while it is "Counterinsurgence" in the movie. Augustus has blue eyes in the book, though brown eyes in the movie. Issac's hair is blond in the book, yet black in the movie.Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace Lancaster
Lily Kenna as young Hazel
Ansel Elgort as Augustus "Gus" Waters
Nat Wolff as Isaac, Augustus' best friend
Laura Dern as Frannie Lancaster, Hazel's mother
Sam Trammell as Michael Lancaster, Hazel's father
Willem Dafoe as Peter van Houten
Lotte Verbeek as Lidewij Vliegenthart, van Houten's assistant
Mike Birbiglia as Patrick, the Support Group leader
Ana Dela Cruz as Dr. Maria
Milica Govich as Mrs. Waters, Augustus's mother
David Whalen as Mr. Waters, Augustus's father
Emily Peachey as Monica
Emily Bach as Monica's Mom
Carole Weyers (voice) as Anne Frank
On January 31, 2012, it was announced that Fox 2000, a division of 20th Century Fox, had optioned the rights to adapt John Green's novel The Fault in Our Stars for a feature film. Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen were due to produce the film with their production company, Temple Hill Entertainment. Stephen Chbosky, who directed The Perks of Being a Wallflower (also filmed in Pittsburgh), was in talks to direct the film but turned it down because of its similarity to Perks. On February 19, 2013, Josh Boone was hired as director; Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber were hired to adapt the novel into a screenplay—their second adaptation for Fox, following Rosaline.
On March 19, 2013, Entertainment Weekly announced that Shailene Woodley (who had recently been cast in, and was filming, Divergent) would play Hazel Grace Lancaster. Director Josh Boone said: "We read close to 150 actresses for the role, and I saw about 50 of those. Within ten or fifteen seconds of Shailene's audition, I knew she was Hazel. She held up her script pages and just her eyes were peeking over them." On May 10, 2013, Ansel Elgort was cast as Hazel's love interest, Augustus Waters. On July 23, Laura Dern joined the cast as Hazel's mother Frannie Lancaster, and Nat Wolff as Issac, Augustus' best friend. Wolff told HuffPost Live: "It's exciting, I feel really lucky. The fact that I get to work with these super talented people—I mean, that's part of the reason why, I'm good in the movie, that's the reason." On August 14, Sam Trammell was cast as Hazel's father Michael Lancaster, and on August 28, author John Green announced that Mike Birbiglia would be playing Patrick. On September 6, he tweeted that Willem Dafoe would play Peter van Houten.
Prior to these announcements, author John Green had tweeted that he would be happy if Mae Whitman played Hazel, and in February 2013, there had been speculation that Shailene Woodley and Hailee Steinfeld were among those being considered for the lead role.
John Green filmed a cameo appearance; his scene was cut from the film but is included in the deleted scenes section of the film's DVD and Blu-ray releases. In the cut scene, Green plays the father of a young girl who asks about Hazel's cannula while at the airport. Green said: "They cut [the scene] because it was totally unnecessary to the movie-slash-I was terrible."
Principal photography began on August 26, 2013, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Film locations included Oakmont, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Children's Hospital, and the historic The Mansions on Fifth hotel. The church scenes were filmed at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon. Filming in Pennsylvania continued until October 10, then the production moved to Amsterdam, where filming began on October 14. Filming was officially completed on October 16, 2013.
In Amsterdam, three days of filming took place. Woodley and Elgort were filmed on a canal-side public bench. On July 2, 2014, The Guardian reported that the bench had gone missing, and city officials said they did not know where it was. Amsterdam city spokesman, Stephan van der Hoek said: "It's a bit embarrassing, because we do keep good track of them, but it's gone all right". He promised to install a new bench within weeks. Just a week later, Entertainment Weekly said the Amsterdam film office had tweeted a photograph taken during the re-installation of the stolen bench; Amsterdam film commissioner Simon Brester said it was the same bench, not a replacement.
Filming in Pittsburgh included the interior scenes at the Anne Frank House, which was recreated on a soundstage at Pittsburgh Studios located in Churchill Borough, Pennsylvania in the east suburbs of Pittsburgh. Production designer Molly Hughes and art director Greg Weimerskirch built three different studio sets in Pittsburgh, one for each floor. Also, the Funky Bones art monument in Indianapolis was recreated in Pittsburgh with the help of the sculpture's creator, Dutch artist Joep Van Lieshout.
Author John Green, though an Indianapolis native, was pleased with the selection of Pittsburgh for filming. He commented that
Pittsburgh has an amazing community of really talented film professionals that’s been built up over the last 20 years. I’ve been blown away by their professionalism, their confidence, their dedication. There aren’t a lot of cities like that. You kind of have to find the city that can be Indianapolis. And Pittsburgh, even though it has a lot of hills, it can be Indianapolis. We just have to find a couple of flat streets.
Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes scored the film. The full album track list was released on April 13, 2014, featuring songs from artists including: M83, Grouplove, Kodaline, Jake Bugg, Tom Odell, Birdy, Ed Sheeran and Charli XCX, who performed "Boom Clap", one of the main songs from the movie, which became an international success, due in part to its exposure in the film. The soundtrack was released by Atlantic Records on May 19 in the U.S., and on June 23 in the UK.
The Fault in Our Stars premiered to 300 guests at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on June 2, 2014. At the premiere, Green said: "I didn't want to sell it, because Hollywood sucks at making unsentimental movies about illness." The film was released on June 6, 2014. After the New York premiere, Evangeline Earl, a student, announced that Green's book, from which the film was adapted, had been inspired by her sister Esther Earl, who had also been an author. Esther suffered from thyroid cancer and died in 2010. Evangeline said Esther had met Green at LeakyCon, a Harry Potter convention held in Boston in 2009. Green said, "I could never have written The Fault in Our Stars without knowing Esther. Every word on that book depends on her." Green said he used the word "okay" in the book and the film because Hazel and Augustus used it to express their love for each other; it becomes a special word between them. The original novel was inspired by the late author Esther Earl, who used the word "okay" with her sister Abigail.
The first trailer was released on January 29, 2014. The trailer had over 3 million views in less than 24 hours, and more than 15 million views in its first seven days. A video clip was shown before the show at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards on April 13. An extended trailer was released on April 28, and Fox released more clips via YouTube as part of the film's pre-release promotion. On April 2, the studio announced the launch of a promotional tour program named Demand Our Stars. Green, Woodley, Elgort, and Wolff would visit the states that got most votes from fans re-blogging their states' map outlines. Four states won: the tour program started in Miami, Florida, on May 6; went to Cleveland, Ohio, on May 7; then went to Nashville, Tennessee, on May 8; and ended in Dallas, Texas, on May 9.
The Fault in Our Stars was released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 16, 2014. The Fault in Our Stars: Little Infinities Blu-ray edition features the theatrical 126-minute and extended 133-minute versions of the film, a number of deleted scenes including the John Green cameo, and featurettes. The home video release grossed over $42.6 million in total domestic video sales.
The Fault in Our Stars received generally positive reviews, with Woodley's and Elgort's performances and Neustadter and Weber's screenplay receiving praise. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 81% based on 199 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Wise, funny, and heartbreaking without resorting to exploitation, The Fault in Our Stars does right by its bestselling source material." Metacritic gave the film a score of 69 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." At CinemaScore opening day audiences gave the film an "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film a score of 3 out of 4; he said: "Woodley ... balances grace with gravity, wit with heart." A. O. Scott writing for The New York Times said: "The film sets out to make you weep—not just sniffle or choke up a little, but sob until your nose runs and your face turns blotchy. It succeeds." The Boston Globe's Ty Burr gave the film a rating of 2.5 out 4 and said: "If Elgort's Gus is glibly charming and ultimately affecting, The Fault in Our Stars belongs to Woodley, a performer who always seems to be backing warily into her own movies."
Quickflix's Simon Miraudo rated the film 3/5, and said: "The Fault in Our Stars undeniably sets us up to knock us down." Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 4 stars. He said Woodley's performance as Hazel was "transcendent, pure and authentic", stating that, "she's that memorable." Scott Mendelson of Forbes magazine said the film is "exceptionally high-quality mainstream entertainment" and called it "a genuine work of art." Anna Smith of Empire said it was a, "touching romance and Shailene Woodley's best performance yet." Emma Dibdin of Digital Spy wrote "The Fault in Our Stars is a sharp and emotionally-sophisticated weepie that imbues its teenage characters with rare intelligence, and tackles its bleak subject matter with acerbic wit and tenderness." Andy Lea of the Daily Star said: "as teen romances go, this is powerful stuff." Wilson Morales at BlackFilm.com praised Woodley and Elgort's performances, saying they: "are so captivating and genuine in their performances, they manage to make this intensely poignant film very moving, romantic and highly entertaining."
Time magazine's Richard Corliss wrote: "Hazel and Augustus will live in film lore because of the young actors who play them." Chris Vongar of Dallas Morning News gave the film a B+ as "the movie is witty and alive and only very occasionally maudlin." USA Today's Claudia Puig called the film "well-written, well-acted, acerbic, funny and wisely observed", giving it 3.5 out of 4. Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly called the film a "funny, sweet, three-hankie tearjerker" and gave the B grade. Geoff Pevere of The Globe and Mail said, "While it may not conform to one's real-life expectations it certainly hews tightly to teen-flick conventions." Connie Ogle of The Miami Herald called it a, "sweet, romantic film full of sudden warmth and humor." A.A. Dowd of The A.V. Club gave the film a "B" saying that it is, "blessed with sparks of wit and buoyed by the talents of a charismatic cast."
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film a negative review, likening it to "being mugged by a professional whose skills in mixed martial arts you can't help but notice and appreciate, even as you are savagely beaten, then dragged upright, bruised and bleeding, and forced to watch as your assailant gives fully 45% of your money to charity." Christy Lemire writing for Roger Ebert's website gave it two stars out of four and criticized the film for being "emotionally inert, despite its many moments that are meant to put a lump in our throats." Lemire criticized Elgort's performance and praised Woodley's "abiding, disarming naturalism." Robbie Collin writing for The Daily Telegraph said: "Gus is something of a manic pixie dreamboat: the lesser-spotted male version of the kooky, adoring girlfriend-type sometimes played by Kirsten Dunst, Natalie Portman, and Zooey Deschanel." David Edelstein of NPR said:
I know people who cried at the trailer of the romantic teen cancer movie The Fault in Our Stars—at the movie they'll need a life preserver to keep from drowning in a flood of tears. Me, I didn't cry, though at times my tear ducts tingled; I was on the verge. The film is a little slick for my taste, too engineered. But it's gently directed by Josh Boone and beautifully acted. Whatever the faults, it's not in the stars.
Shalini Langer of The Indian Express gave the film two and a half stars and said: "The film is faithful to a fault from the dialogues to the clothes, the setting and the food, even while skipping over some of the unpleasant details." Dana Stevens writing for Slate Magazine said: "What in the name of God is wrong with me that I didn't cry once—I, who just the day before wept through the entirety of my child's thoroughly upbeat school play." Two Christian reviewers and some theologians have mentioned the presence of Christian themes in the film. Writing for Catholic News Agency, Robert Barron said:
I don’t think it is the least bit accidental that Waters (Gus’s last name) and Grace (Hazel’s middle name) met in the sacred heart of Christ and thereby, despite their shared suffering, managed to give life to one another ... [and so] Hazel effectively repudiates her nihilism and materialism as she responds across the barrier of death to Gus’s 'okay' ." He also noted: "[Is] this film a satisfying presentation of Christianity? Hardly. But for those who are struggling to find their way to meaning and faith, it's not an entirely bad place to start."
The film's studio, 20th Century Fox, mounted an unsuccessful campaign to have Shailene Woodley nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as the film's adapted screenplay.
The Fault in Our Stars earned $124.9 million in North America and $182.3 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $307.2 million, against a production budget of $12 million.
In North America, the film's income received a boost from "The Night Before Our Stars," a premium-priced event for which tickets sold for up to $25. The event included a screening of the film and a simulcast question-and-answer session with cast and crew, including Woodley, Elgort, Wolff, and Green. The film earned $8.2 million from Thursday-night showings and $26.1 million on its opening day. During its opening weekend, the film earned $48,002,573 from 3,173 theaters at an average of $15,128 per theater, making it number one in North America.
At locations outside North America, The Fault in Our Stars earned $16.59 million from 2,892 screens in 17 markets in its opening weekend, placing at number four behind Edge of Tomorrow ($81 million), Maleficent ($61.7 million), and X-Men: Days of Future Past ($41.1 million). Brazil, Mexico, and Australia generated the highest income with $5.8 million, $3.8 million, and $3.7 million respectively. The following week the film earned $16.1 million from 40 markets, remaining at number 4 again.
On August 6, 2014, India's Fox Star Studios announced its intention to produce a remake of The Fault in Our Stars in Hindi. The studio's CEO, Vijay Singh, said the English version of the film, which was released in India in July 2014, had earned over $1 million there. On September 19, it was announced that Homi Adajania, the director of Finding Fanny (2014), and producer Dinesh Vijan would be working with Fox Star Studios to develop the film, which will be co-produced by Vijan's company Maddock Films.