Weekend Box Office: INSURGENT Nearly Equals DIVERGENT with $54 Million Debut

     March 22, 2015

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Though it got off to a slow start on Friday, Insurgent managed to pull off an impressive weekend opening. From 3,875 locations, part two of Lionsgate’s The Divergent Series earned an estimated $54 million. That was not quite the $57 million that was originally forecast, but it was certainly better than the $49 million that was forecast at this time yesterday.  Insurgent also wound on par with Divergent, which debuted with $54.6 million on this same weekend one year ago.

This also happens to be the same weekend that first brought us The Hunger Games back in 2012 – and don’t think that scheduling was a coincidence. HG was a bona fide box office phenomenon: setting an all-time record for a March debut and ending its run with $408 million from North America alone.  With that kind of success, it was natural to look to other YA lit-hits for the box office’s next blockbuster, and Veronica Roth’s best-selling ‘Divergent’ series certainly fit the bill.

Though we were warned not to expect another Hunger Games-sized opening from Divergent, it was hard not to imagine big things were in store considering all it shared with its YA predecessor – same studio, an up-and coming young cast and, of course, that magical release date. In the end, Divergent wound up earning just over $150 million in North America. That was good enough to place among the top twenty films of 2014, but not even close to the level of The Hunger Games.

But if we leave Katniss out of the equation, Divergent actually performed well above other would-be YA blockbusters, including The Host and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. And so, like Twilight before it, Divergent was re-christened “The Divergent Series,” and the second installment, Insurgent, locked down the same March weekend for its debut. For weeks, tracking had Insurgent opening slightly above Divergent, in the same way that Catching Fire opened just slightly above The Hunger Games. That didn’t happen with the domestic chart, though Insurgent is set to show up its predecessor on the international market. Last year, Divergent took in a so-so $137.8 million overseas. Insurgent has already brought in $47 million from its international territories. And with the increased profile of star Shailene Woodley and a more action-centric premise this time around, Insurgent should bring in at least $200 million outside of North America.the-gunman-sean-penn-2

The outlook is not as good for The Gunman. This weekend’s second new release, from Taken director Pierre Morel, earned an estimated $5 million from 2,816 locations. That equals a per-screen average of just $1,779. Last weekend we made a point of highlighting what a disappointment Run All Night, with Taken star Liam Neeson, had proved. Just for the record, the initial per-screen average for Run All Night was almost double that of The Gunman.  The film also suffered from terrible reviews (14% on Rotten Tomatoes), and a less than enthusiastic B- CinemaScore.

Remember this time last year, when the hot box office trend was Christian-themed features? There was Son of God, Heaven is for Real and God’s Not Dead, all of which made headlines (and more importantly, profits) with their box office debuts. In fact, on this weekend last year God’s Not Dead stole some of Divergent’s thunder by opening with $9.2 million from just 780 locations. The film was also budgeted at just $2 million, and wound up topping $60 million with its domestic run. Which brings us to Do You Believe?, the latest faith-based feature to make a grab for the ‘God’s Not Dead’ mantle.

Do You Believe? earned an estimated $4 million from 1,320 locations instead of the $9 to $10 million that many expected. To be clear, not every Christian film from the last year was a Son of God-sized hit. Both Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas and the reboot of Left Behind, starring Nic Cage, were notable (and hilarious) box office misses.

Overall, the box office was down seven percent over the same frame in 2014. Because Insurgent clearly carried its weight, and Cinderella held well in its sophomore frame (down just 49%), the year-over-year difference should be blamed on everything going on below the weekend’s top two films. Note that the third-highest grossing movie brought in less than a tenth of Insurgent’s estimate. Next weekend is not expected to turn the losing streak around, unfortunately. The Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard is projected to open with over $30 million. But again, it’s the films that don’t land in the top three that drag the rest of the box office down. Naturally, we’ll let you know if things play out differently.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Insurgent $54,025,000 $54
2.  Cinderella $34,492,000 $122
3.  Run All Night $5,115,000 $19.7
4.  The Gunman $5,009,000 $5
5.  Kingsman $4,600,000 $114.5
6.  Do You Believe? $4,000,000 $4
7.  Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel $3,450,000 $24.1
8.  Focus $3,300,000 $49.4
9.  Chappie $2,650,000 $28.3
10.  SpongeBob Movie $2,350,000 $158.7

 

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Image via Warner Bros.

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