Divergent had a fantastic start last night for Summit (Lionsgate’s company), pulling in $4.9M in late-night Thursday screenings that began at 8 PM. That is one of the best preview numbers in recent memory, and compares to starts like Universal’s Despicable Me 2 at $4.7 million and World War Z at $3.6M and went onto gross $66.4M with a similar demographic. DM2 went onto gross $83.5M but that was fueled by family audiences. The action/adventure film, based on the 2011 Veronica Roth novel of the same name, is appealing to the twenty-something crowd who drive the box office on these kinds of films; it was produced by Doug Wick, Lucy Fisher and Pouya Shahbazian. Interestingly, the book doesn’t have the same kind of readership/fan base as say Hunger Games or even Vampire Diaries, so if this movie opens to its expected $50M-$60M+ (as it has been tracking to over the last couple of weeks), it will be a testament to the efforts of Summit who began marketing this title last July at ComicCon and then placed the trailer before Hunger Games: Catching Fire so it got tons of exposure for those perhaps not familiar with the Roth book. They have also been pushing on social media, but Divergent (starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James) is no Hunger Games. Checking in with social engagement experts RelishMix, “Divergent‘s social engagement is less than 50% (of Hunger Games) with heavy paid impressions not converting to social sharing,” said CEO Marc Karzen. And that is a key marketing indicator as the twenty-somethings who live on social platforms.
Advanced tickets went on sale on March 4 and pre-sales on Fandango sold out half of its tickets in one day, outpacing the first days of sales for the first Twilight when it began its pre-sales, however as we’ve said before no one is expecting this to be a Twilight opening which bowed to $69.6M in its first 3-day with $7M coming from midnight screenings. Also, the first Hobbit grossed $13M in early shows and the second The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug earned $8.8M in early shows and went on to open at $73.6M . The second opened to Divergent will play on 3,936 screens, 346 of which will be IMAX. It will bow internationally on April 4.
Second place this weekend will go handily to Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted and its No. 2 star Ricky Gervais which is tracking in the high-$20 millions. The film, which also stars Ty Burrell and Tina Fey, plays well to adults, too. In the third spot is expected to be another family offering — Mr. Peabody And Sherman, which could take anywhere from $12M to mid-to-high teens in its third week out depending on how much the Muppet movie cannibalizes the audience.
Fourth and fifth places will likely be a battle between Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures;’ 300: Rise Of An Empire and Need For Speed (Disney/DreamWorks), which are both expected to make around $8M this weekend. And, of course, all eyes will be on The Grand Budapest Hotel as it expands this weekend from Fox Searchlight. It has been doing incredible business so far and will bow on roughly 303 screens, up from 66 last weekend.