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Divergent hits $56 million to take US No.1 as Muppets sequel struggles


Story by Jack Foley

DIVERGENT, the latest Young Adult novel adaptation hoping to carve out a franchise to rival The Hunger Games and Twilight, has enjoyed a strong opening weekend in the US, where it has also taken the No.1 spot at the box office.

The film may not have reached the heights of either of those two films but it took $56 million to emerge as one of the bigger Young Adult adaptation openings outside of those two powerhouse franchises.

Adapted from the best-selling book series by Veronica Roth, Divergent follows a young woman (played by Shailene Woodley) who poses a threat to society after failing to fit into one of five strictly controlled factions in a war-ravaged futuristic society.

It co-stars Theo James, Zoe Kravitz and Kate Winslet and is directed by Neil Burger.

Richie Fay, distribution chief of Summit/Lionsgate, commented: “This opened exactly where we needed it to be to launch a new franchise.”

While the news was good for one potential franchise, another struggled to gain traction for its sequel.

Muppets Most Wanted could only muster $16.5 million on its US debut, way behind the $41 million that its predecessor, the Jason Segel penned The Muppets took over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2011 to spawn the sequel.

James Bobin returned to direct the sequel, which also boasts a star-studded line-up of supporting actors (including Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey) and cameos from a who’s who of A-list talent (and we won’t spoil the surprises here!).

The story finds Kermit and the gang lured into an international crime caper while on tour in Europe.

Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis conceded that the opening figgure was “definitely disappointing” but predicted that it should enjoy strong business in the coming days because of spring break. Pundits have also pointed towards the crowded market-place for family movies at present, which includes box office juggernaut The LEGO Movie and Mr Peabody & Sherman.

Indeed, Mr Peabody remained in third place in its third weekend, taking $11.7 million for a US total of $81 million, while 300: Rise of An Empire placed fourrth with $8.7 million for a US haul of $93.8 million.

Low budget Christian drama God’s Not Dead rounded out the US top five with $8.6 million. The film is based on the book of the same name by Rice Broocks and follows a college student whose philosophy professor forces him to sign a declaration that “God is dead”.

When the student refuses, he’s ordered to prove his position that God exists in a series of debates.

Next story: Rhys Ifans to commence shooting Under Milk Wood in the summer