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Weekend Box Office: Divergent Breaks YA Curse, Muppets Far From Most Wanted

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By Chris Kavan - 03/23/14 at 08:48 PM CT

The burning question over the weekend was whether Divergence was going to be the next big YA hit, or going to crash and burn like so many before it. For Hollywood - it turns out that while it may not be as big as The Hunger Games, there is plenty to be happy about Divergence. The same can't be said for the Muppet sequel - which was upstaged by the news of a limited-release Christian-themed film that did much better than expected. Even with the mixed news, it was a fantastic March weekend.

1) DIVERGENT

Poster for Divergent The people at Lionsgate/Summit are probably breathing easier about their decision to fast-track the Divergent franchise. That it because in the face of so many disappointments: The Host, Vampire Academy, Mortal Instruments (amongst others), Divergent managed to take its place amongst the YA success stories with a $56 million opening. Granted, that isn't as impressive as Twilight ($69.63 million) and nowhere near The Hunger Games ($152.5 million) - the opening weekend is still a win. For one, the movie wasn't nearly as front-loaded as either of those two films (only 40% of its grosses came on Friday) and it also attracted a much larger crowd beyond its fan base (50% of those attending had read the books - compared to the 74% of Twilight and 76% who read The Hunger Games). While critics were underwhelmed, audiences awarded it an "A" Cinemascore - meaning it should stick around for awhile based on word-of-mouth. It should have no problem cruising past its $85 million budget - closing somewhere around $125 million. The studio has already planned to release Insurgent and Allegiant in 2015 and 2016 (around the same time of year) - and that was a gamble, but it has paid off. It looks like Theo James and Shailene Woodley are going to be busy.

2) MUPPETS MOST WANTED

While it has been a good year for family films, apparently there is only so much love to go around. Muppets Most Wanted opened to just $16.5 million, down sharply from the $29.2 million The Muppets opened with in 2011. Granted, that film did open over Thanksgiving weekend - but still, the sequel was expected to open well above $20 million. It did bring in families - and it was awarded a "B+" Cinemascore, but even with decent word-of-mouth, the film is likely to fall short of the $50 million mark and unless foreign grosses are high, will put the damper on any more Muppet movies coming out anytime soon.

3) MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN

After it's come-back victory last weekend, Mr. Peabody & Sherman dropped 46.4%, landing in third place with $11.7 million. The animated film has now earned $81 million - still on its way to a $100+ plus final tally, but it's not likely to top out much higher than that.



4) 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

The Greek fleet took a 55% hit in its third weekend out, taking in $8.66 million and giving the film a new total of $93.75 million. It is still on pace to reach its $110 million budget - though it will likely take a big hit with Noah on the horizon.



5) GOD'S NOT DEAD

With Son of God doing decent business, the Christian-themed God's Not Dead continued the good news by bringing in $8.56 million from just 780 locations. It was on part with Fireproof ($6.8 million) and Courageous ($9.1 million) though it should be noted both of those films opened on over 1000 screens. Among the faith-based films, it ranks 7th all time and bolsters the notion that Christian audiences will support films that also support their faith. The movie is set to expand and with audience support a total of $30 million is not out of the question.

Outside the top five: It was continued good news for The Grand Budapest Hotel. The film expanded to over 300 theaters and took in $6.75 million - an 85.5% increase and rising from 8th to 7th place in the process - with a blistering $22,204-per-theater average (the best out of any film over the weekend). The major push is next, with the film expanding to 800 plus theaters next weekend. As it stands, the film has a $12.96 million total - and it should have no problem adding to that total.

Two films crossed the $75 million mark - The Monuments Men just squeezed passed that mark with $970,000 in 12th place for a total of $75.7 million. Meanwhile Non-Stop added $6.34 million (8th place) and came up with a new total of $78.6 million.

Next week has the release of biblical block-buster Noah, along with the action film Sabotage (Arnold Schwarzenegger, still trying to regain his action icon status) and the expansion of Jason Bateman's directorial debut, Bad Words.

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