Friday, March 21, 2014

‘Divergent’ to dive into first place

Young adult novel adaptation Divergent is tracking strong among advanced ticket sales and should easily win the weekend’s top spot. Right now, the film accounts for 80 percent of weekend sales, according to Fandango. Lionsgate/Summit is clearly hoping for another successful franchise in the vein of its Twilight and Hunger Games series. Author Veronica Roth’s trilogy does have a large and devoted fanbase, and Divergent the film apparently has the most Instagram followers ever for a movie. However, mega or even sustained success largely depends upon Divergent’s ability to lure viewers who are unfamiliar with the books. If that’s the case, the film might be in trouble. Roundly poor reviews (38 percent rotten on Rotten Tomatoes) will certainly deter some would-be audience members. Opening weekend should prove very strong, $60 million or so, propelled by the power of the literary faithful. How well Divergent holds from there on out, however, is anyone’s guess.

If Divergent is practically assured first-place standing this weekend, then Muppets Most Wanted will clock in at No. 2.  The follow-up to 2011’s reboot The Muppets opens in 3,194 theatres today. It’s received fairly positive reviews (77 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and, though it doesn’t include The Muppets stars Amy Adams and Jason Segel, it does have Tina Fey as well as Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell to act as major draws. Whether that’s enough, and whether or not families are ready to move on from Mr. Peabody & Sherman, will largely determine whether this weekend’s second-place champion crosses $25 million.

Smaller releases bowing today include the faith-based film God’s Not Dead (780 theatres), Blood Ties (28 theatres) and Nymph()maniac Vol. 1 (24 theatres). Although Kirk Cameron’s Fireproof was something of a surprise hit in 2008, opening to $6.8 million, more recent Christian films, including The Grace Card, The Ultimate Gift and To Save a Life, opened much softer, earning between $1 and $2 million. In all likelihood, God’s Not Dead will also rake in a smaller pile of earnings, as will Blood Ties, which, for all its star-studded cast (Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Marion Cotillard) has been given little to no exposure and received mostly negative reviews. Nymph()maniac is a tougher one to call: Prurient interest in its subject could drive sales, but the movie has also been available on VOD for several weeks. Some pundits are speculating this is the type of film people are more comfortable watching in their homes, in which case, expect a fairly modest opening for this latest from Lars von Trier.

Finally, specialty juggernaut (funny, considering the director’s thing for miniatures) The Grand Budapest Hotel expands to 304 locations today, and Jason Bateman’s Bad Words screens in 87. The latter opens wide next weekend, on Friday, March 28.

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