By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist March 23, 2014 at 12:02PM
To paraphrase a salient tweet from L.A. Times writer Ben Fritz, It’s no “Hunger Games” or “Twilight,” but with a solid $56.7 million opening, the sci-fi YA adaptation “Divergent” won’t be a “Vampire Academy” or “Mortal Instruments”-type flop either. And yes, they tend to come in those black and white terms so far: either a massive success or a bomb (though ‘Mortal Instruments’ seems like it may limp towards a sequel). But that’s all very relative.
The Shailene Woodley-starring YA film was met with very mixed-to-disappointing reviews, but that didn’t stop the 20-something crowd who came out in healthy numbers. And that $56.7 million is nothing to sneeze at. It’s the second-highest opening of 2014 behind “The Lego Movie,” audiences reported an A Cinemascore and 50% of that demo was under 25. It should be kicking around theaters and the top 10 for at least another few weeks presumably. Time will tell how it matches up to “The Hunger Games” total and while it’s inevitably going to be smaller, as the third-largest YA franchise in existence. In comparison, the first "Twilight" grossed $69.6 million off a low $37 million budget and the first 'Hunger Games' brought in an incredible $152 million in its opening weekend (which will likely hold the gold standard of YA franchises for years to come). “Divergent” cost $85 million, so the math is not quite there in the movie’s favor, but it’s also just beginning and another strong weekend should surpass that number.
Hitting to very soft numbers, “The Muppets Most Wanted,” which was also met with middling reviews, could only muster a $16.5 million opening, which could mean curtains for the franchise if it doesn’t have legs or sustain itself overseas. This isn’t a hugely expensive franchise, but c’mon, it’s the Muppets brand and this is akin to bomb. Shouldn’t that be waaaaaay higher? In fact, yes. In 2011, “The Muppets” opened to $29 million and ‘Most Wanted’ fell 44% off that mark, which is not what Disney will want to hear. Perhaps beloved at the Golden Globes, Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey can’t really open a movie that widely, and clearly the Muppets brand alone isn’t enough.
The big success story of the weekend—other than “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which keeps performing well in only 304 theaters across the nation ($6.7 million)—is the religious film “God’s Not Dead,” which opened at the 4th slot with $8.6 million; and that’s an excellent $11k per screen average from 780 theaters—it's the highest opening ever for a Christian movie playing in fewer than 1,000 theaters.
The failure story of the weekend was certainly the “Veronica Mars” movie which took a massive 75% tumble in its second week, only grossing $490,000 and falling to the 17th slot despite being in 347 theaters (compare that to the "Grand Budapest Hotel," ouch). Sitting at $2.9 million total right now, it’s very conceivable it will fall short of the $5.7 million raised in its Kickstarter campaign and, surely this is really going to raise red flags and could potentially be a negative game-changer for all celebrity crowdsourced projects moving forward. Spike Lee and Zack Braff, it’s up to you now. And yes, "Veronica Mars" is also on VOD and that's one part of the story not accounted for, but considering the number of backers who wanted a MOVIE, one would have assumed that the film would have performed much more buffo theatrically.
"Mr. Peabody And Sherman" bounced back in a major way. Opening weekend it played super soft at home, but it rallied in week 2 for the number #1 slot. This weekend it scored the third spot, grossing $11.7 million domestically, but the story abroad is at $100 million already. That's making for a $183 million gross worldwide and a film that's easily going to hit the $200 million mark if not much more. "300: Rise Of An Empire" survived in the top 5 for its third week of release. It's at $93.7 million domestically so far, which should keep WB more than happy. “Need For Speed” broke down for the number 6 slot ($7.7 million), falling 56%, but globally it's still in high gear: it hauled in another $29.2 million this weekend for a $96.1 million worldwide gross. It may be a non-starter at home, but its off to the races abroad (sorry, had to). Liam Neeson’s “Non Stop” added another $6 million to its almost $80 million domestic total so far.
Internationally, Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" had a strong debut weekend. The movie opened to $14 million in two territories: Mexico and Korea, beating both the debut of "Inception" and "Skyfall" in both markets which bodes well for its bigger international release. As noted, Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is still performing very well stateside and internationally, the Eastern-European-set story is connecting exceptionally: it's already grossed $33.1 million overseas making the movie the filmmaker's biggest grossing film abroad. In limited release, Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac Volume 1" opened with 150k in 24 theaters for a $6,250 per screen average.
1. Divergent $56 million
2. Muppets Most Wanted $16.5 million
3. Mr. Peabody And Sherman $11.7 million/$81 mil
4. 300: Rise Of An Empire $8.7 million/$93.8 mil
5. Gods Not Dead $8.6 million
6. Need For Speed $7.7 million/$30.4 mil
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel $6.7 million/$12.9 mil
8. Non-Stop $6.3 million/$78.3 mil
9. The Lego Movie $4.1 million/$243.3 mil
10. The Single Moms Club $3.1 million/12.9 mil