News

‘Divergent’ tops weekend box office

‘Divergent’ tops weekend box office

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: This image released by Summit Entertainment shows Shailene Woodley, left, and Theo James in a scene from "Divergent." Photo: Associated Press

By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Dystopian thriller “Divergent,” the story of a society that divides people based on personality traits, dominated weekend movie charts with $56 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, kicking off a new franchise for “Hunger Games” producer Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

Walt Disney Co family comedy “Muppets Most Wanted” finished in second place, nabbing $16.5 million from Friday through Sunday, according to estimates provided by Rentrak. Animated “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” produced by Dreamworks Animation Inc, took the No. 3 slot with $11.7 million.

“Divergent” is adapted from a popular series of young adult novels by newcomer author Veronica Roth. Ahead of the weekend, forecasters had predicted the film would debut with between $50 million and $68 million in North American (U.S. and Canadian) ticket sales.

Shailene Woodley stars in “Divergent” as Tris Prior, a teenager who doesn’t fit in to a faction because she has multiple dominant personality traits, making her a threat to the government. She chooses to join the Dauntless faction of warriors who defend the society’s inhabitants. British actor Theo James plays Four, Tris’ mentor and love interest.

The debut of “Divergent” fell short of the box office heights of two other young adult franchises. “Hunger Games” started with a massive $152.5 million in March 2012 while “Twilight” opened with $69.6 million in November 2008.

Lions Gate said Friday it was confident “Divergent” would become an important franchise for the company and it was moving ahead with the second film in the series, called “Insurgent,” which will reach theaters in March 2015.

Noting that the “Divergent” opening was shy of blockbusters “Hunger Games” and “Twilight,” Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., said “$56 million is a great opening for any film, and virtually locked down the proposed trilogy.”

“This is something to build on for the series, and with the cast expected to be in high demand, the ‘Divergent’ legacy will continue to grow,” Bock added.

Richie Fay, the studio’s president of domestic distribution, said, “We’re very pleased with the outcome for the franchise launch.”

The movie’s A+ CinemaScore grade from the under-18 audience bodes well for the coming weeks as spring break and Easter school holidays approach, Fay said, noting, “The young adult audience has been underserved in the last couple of weeks.”

The company spent $85 million to produce “Divergent,” plus $40 million to $45 million on marketing, according to a person with knowledge of the film’s budget. The studio has recouped about $70 million of the cost through international licensing deals, the person said.

“Muppets Most Wanted,” a sequel to a 2011 “Muppets” movie, stars Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell alongside Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog and other classic Muppet characters. In the new film, Kermit is imprisoned in a Russian gulag in a case of mistaken identity, while an evil impostor travels with his muppet friends on a European tour.

“Mr. Peabody and Sherman” brought its global sales through three weekends to $172 million. The movie was distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Rounding out the domestic charts, Greek warrior sequel “300: Rise of an Empire” landed in fourth place with $8.7 million, while the independent faith-based new release “God’s Not Dead” pulled in $8.6 million to claim the No. 5 spot.

Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner, released “300: Rise of an Empire.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Chris Michaud in New York; Editing by Sophie Hares and Jan Paschal)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Aaron Rodgers wins 2nd NFL Most Valuable Player

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers drops back during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

Aaron Rodgers has won his second Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award in somewhat surprisingly easy fashion.

in Sports

Seau, Bettis, Brown, Haley, Shields voted into Hall of Fame

halloffame

Junior Seau, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley and Will Shields have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

in Entertainment, Local Sports

Lenny Kravitz will be rooting for Seahawks on Sunday

Lenny Kravitz en concert. SPE. Panoramic

Pitbull is picking the New England Patriots, while Lenny Kravitz likes the Seahawks

in Sports

Late rally lifts No. 4 Duke past No. 2 Virginia, 69-63

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski

Tyus Jones scored 17 points and hit a clinching 3-pointer with about 10 seconds remaining.

in Sports

Serena Williams wins 6th Australian, 19th major title

Serena Williams, of the United States, looks up at the scoreboard during her match against Francesca Schiavone, of Italy, in the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, in New York.

he 33-year-old Williams, the oldest winner of the Australian women's title in the Open era, clinched the match on her third match point with an ace.

Bellingham Traffic