Here’s your 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Divergent – $ 56.0 million ($ 56.0 million total)
2. Muppets Most Wanted – $ 16.5 million ($ 16.5 million total)
3. Mr. Peabody & Sherman – $ 11.7 million ($ 81.0 million total)
4. 300: Rise of an Empire – $ 8.6 million ($ 93.7 million total)
5. God’s Not Dead – $ 8.5 million ($ 8.5 million total)
6. Need for Speed – $ 7.7 million ($ 30.4 million total)
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel – $ 6.7 million ($ 12.9 million total)
8. Non-Stop – $ 6.3 million ($ 78.6 million total)
9. The Lego Movie – $ 4.1 million ($ 243.3 million total)
10. Tyler Perry’s The Single Mom’s Club – $ 3.1 million ($ 12.9 million total)
The Big Stories
Divergent Breathes Life Back Into YA Adaptations
Divergent, despite referencing individuals who actually can pat their head and rub their bellies at the same time, is not a film that lends itself to holding two thoughts in its brain at the same time either. It kinda looks like a dystopian science-fiction film. The problem is it looks like a lot of other films as well and is tremendously long and boring, in my opinion. But enough about what’s wrong with it and let’s look at the $ 56 million it took in this weekend. Not bad. On the surface, that’s a pretty hefty number for any film. But let’s not get all Abnegation on it.
Sure it’s the 9th highest opening in March, but as Lionsgate/Summit franchises go, Divergent was not going to approach The Hunger Games‘ $ 150+ million debut, though here was hope it would at least be in the range of the first Twilight‘s $ 64 million. Tracking reports putting Divergent at a $ 65 million start were proven to be wrong by over $ 10 million and now the film faces tests in the coming weeks — especially with both Noah and Captain America: The Winter Soldier approaching — that could have it struggling to beat Ride Along‘s $ 132 million gross.
It hasn’t been a remarkable start to 2014 for Lionsgate. Since their great success with last year’s #1 film (in the U.S.) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, they have suffered through The Legend of Hercules and I, Frankenstein, both of which faired poorly. Their previous “franchise” player Tyler Perry came up short with A Madea Christmas and even shorter with last week’s The Single Mom’s Club, which will easily be the lowest-grossing film of Perry’s career by half. Despite the negativity, Divergent only has to clear roughly $ 220 million worldwide to be a success. Half here and half there should make this a modest success, but is modesty going to be enough to keep Insurgent on the drawing board?
Muppets Not So Wanted
As franchises go, the return of the Muppets back in 2011 should have signaled the kind of triumphant resurgence at the box office that kept them in business for the next decade. The $ 41.5 million it made over the Thanksgiving holiday still only translated to $ 88 million overall, while Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked grossed over $ 133 million.
Now the Muppets have returned, and while everyone seems to agree it lacks the same heart and nostalgia as the 2011 film, it’s still a very funny and entertaining film with enjoyable songs, Russian gulag cameos and two of our best comedic presences, Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey, at the forefront. And yet, only $ 16.5 million. More people took their kids to The Nut Job on opening weekend. Why aren’t parents taking their kids to see the Muppets? Past their prime is not a good enough excuse when the lackluster Mr. Peabody & Sherman took in $ 32 million to start. You did right by your kids with The Lego Movie parents, but you are doing them a disservice leaving Kermit to rot in the gulag.
God Is Definitely Not Dead at the Box Office
Was he ever alive? There’s a semi-interesting theological question to debate at your next jam session since he was never a flesh-and-blood entity on the human-populated planet he allegedly created. But we get the question in a sort of Oh God!: Book II kind of way. It’s Christians vs. Atheists with a side of Duck Dynasty members. Son of God may have fallen out of the top ten, but Harold Cronk (director of The Adventures of Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure) has the film with the third best per-screen average of the week (after Divergent and The Grand Budapest Hotel.) On only 780 theaters, God’s Not Dead (and its $ 8.5 million) did what Winter’s Tale, Labor Day and Vampire Academy could not on over 2500. Now let’s see whether Noah has as much success with faith-based audiences when it opens up on 3,400 screens.
– Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV’s First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.