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Box office update: 'Noah' floats with $15.2 million on Friday

Darren Aronofsky’s diluvian epic Noah attracted something between a trickle and a flood of moviegoers on Friday, earning the film $15.2 million in its first day of release. While Noah is an adaptation of the original disaster story, in which God plays Roland Emmerich and destroys pretty much everything in sight, the number puts Noah‘s draw closer to that of historical epics like star Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood than any of Emmerich’s big-budget catastrophe porn. It’s unclear whether the film managed to get Christian audiences (who made last week’s God’s Not Dead a sleeper hit) marching two-by-two into the cinemaplex or if news that Aronofsky was playing fast and loose with Old Testament mythology had kept them at bay.

Meanwhile, Divergent made $8.1 million on its second Friday, dropping a modest 64 percent. The hopeful YA franchise may not diverge too much in tone from its allegorical dystopian forebear The Hunger Games, but the numbers do: At this point, Divergent has made $76.9 million, whereas the first film adapted from Suzanne Collins’ trilogy had already taken in $208.6 million over nearly the exact same calendar days. Of course, $76.9 million in a week and a day is no small potatoes. It’s just not freakishly large genetically modified potatoes, either.

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Box office update: 'Divergent' earns $22.8 million on Friday

Divergent, the big-screen adaptation of Veronica Roth’s hit YA sci-fi book series, had no trouble setting itself apart at theaters on Friday, grossing an estimated $22.8 million. That’s the largest single-day haul at the box office since The LEGO Movie, which made $30.8 million on its first Saturday in February.  Divergent also collected $4.9 million at midnight shows on Thursday, bringing its total to $27.7 million before the weekend officially even begins. For comparison, The Hunger Games, the first chapter of the current gold-standard YA franchise, earned $67.3 million on its first Friday in March, 2012 on its way to a $152.5 million weekend. Divergent, which reportedly cost $85 million to produce, could reach as high as $60 million by the end of the weekend for a decisive win.

In second place, Muppets Most Wanted grossed $4.7 million on Friday. The caper comedy, starring Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, and Ricky Gervais alongside Jim Henson’s legendary puppets, marks the Muppets’ eighth big-screen adventure and their first since 2011′s reboot The Muppets. That version, scripted by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, earned $12.1 million on its first Friday and eventual achieved an $88.6 million cumulative gross. Muppets Most Wanted should perform well with families this weekend, and could take in more than $20 million by Sunday night.

In a surprise showing, the inspirational drama God’s Not Dead, distributed by Freestyle Releasing, came in third place with $2.8 million on Friday. The low-budget independent film, which tells the story of a college student who challenges a professor’s belief that God doesn’t exist, played in just 780 theaters, and could earn as much as $8 million in its first weekend.

In fourth place, the animated adventure Mr. Peabody and Sherman earned $2.7 million for a $72 million total gross after 15 days. And in fifth place, 300: Rise of an Empire conquered another $2.4 million on Friday, bringing its total $87 million. Expanding to 304 theaters, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel continued to ride a wave of critical acclaim to an estimated $1.8 million Friday take.

1. Divergent – $22.8 million
2. Muppets Most Wanted – $4.7 million
3. God’s Not Dead – $2.8 million
4. Mr. Peabody and Sherman – $2.7 million
5. 300: Rise of an Empire – $2.4 million

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