Divergent was dauntless at the box office this weekend, easily winning the top spot with an estimated $56 million. Meanwhile, the Muppets failed to take multiplexes in Muppets Most Wanted, earning $16.5 million, and the faith-based indie God’s Not Dead inspired an awesome $8.6 million from just 780 theaters.
Starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James as rebels in a dystopian future, the PG-13 action film Divergent aimed for the same moviegoers who gave The Hunger Games a surprise $152.5 million opening weekend in March, 2012. With a $56 million debut, Divergent didn’t reach those heights — and even fell slightly below the predictions of some analysts, who had pegged the movie for a $60 million-plus debut.
Like many buzzy films, it started strong out of the gate: A teen-targeted marketing blitz transformed the movie into an event for young fans, who turned out in droves for late-night Thursday screenings that grossed $4.9 million even before the official start of the weekend. Critical reaction has been lackluster, though the film earned a solid A CinemaScore and praise from EW’s Owen Gleiberman, who called it an “agreeably rousing, sensitive-teen-in-Amish-linen-finds-her-inner-tattooed-jock-to-fight-the-power formula dystopian thriller.” Regardless, a sequel, Insurgent, has already been greenlit by Lionsgate for release on March 20, 2015. The trilogy’s finale, Allegiant, is scheduled for March 18, 2016, showing Hollywood’s continued faith in spring as a box-office launchpad after the success of recent March hits like The Hunger Games ($408 million total) and Oz the Great and Powerful ($234 million). (However, after the first Hunger Games installment’s release, Lionsgate did bump the remainder of the trilogy into the more competitive Thanksgiving time frame.)