By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 22, 2014 at 1:21PM
"Divergent," the latest dystopian female-centered novel adaptation to strive for franchise success, grossed a solid $22.8 million for its first day (including Thursday evening shows). Unlike recent weeks when multiple titles spread the wealth, the film looks to dominate the weekend, with more than half of Friday's Top 10 total. Still, it was enough to boost receipts for another Friday that exceeded the previous year's gross, extending the streak now to 17 weeks. It should easily top $50 million for the three days.
Two other new openers from vastly different sources placed #2 and #3. "Muppets Most Wanted" (Buena Vista) placed second with a surprisingly soft $4.7 million which, even boosted by matinees, will fall short of $20 million for the weekend. That's significantly below pre-opening estimates. #3 is a major surprise, though: "God's Not Dead" (Freestyle), opening off the radar in 780 theaters and not in major cities. The film, which took in $2.8 million, has been marketed heavily to church groups, particularly in the South and Midwest. With church group sales boosting its first-day totals, it could fall in placement for the full weekend, but wherever it lands, this is one of the biggest surprises of recent months.
Only three other films managed more than $2 million for the day, all holdovers down 50% or more from last Friday. At #4 (and likely rising for the weekend) "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" (20th Century Fox) took in $2.7 million; #5 "300: Rise of an Empire" (Warner Bros.) took $2.4 million and #6 "Need for Speed" (Buena Vista), which dropped almost two-thirds from opening day, picked up $2.2 million.
Just under $2 million are "Non-Stop" (Universal) at #7 ($1.9 million) and, expanding but still only playing 304 theaters, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Fox Searchlight) at $1.88 million. #9 and 10 respectively are "The Lego Movie" (Warner Bros.) and "The Single Mom's Club" (Lionsgate) -- the latter dropping almost 75% from last Friday, with both films just under $1 million for the day.
New specialized openings were spotty. Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac Vol. 1" (Magnolia), which has been on Video on Demand for two weeks already, took in around $50,000 at 24 theaters, while "Jodorowsky's Dune" (Sony Pictures Classics) did somewhat under $10,000 at 3 theaters.