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Weekend Predictions: Divergent Opinions on the New Releases

March 20th, 2014

Divergent poster

Another week, another pair of wide releases. That's becoming a common thing to say. It is also a good thing to say, because too many movies tend to hurt all films involved and it is much better to have one big release and the counter-programing film. This week the big release is Divergent, which the studio is hoping will be the start of a new franchise. The box office tracking for the film looks good, even if the reviews do not. The counter-programing this week is Muppets Most Wanted, which is also opening with a saturation level theater count and it looks to do as well as The Muppets did. Last year there was also a strong one-two punch with The Croods topping Olympus has Fallen $43.64 million to $30.37 million. I'm not sure that Muppets Most Wanted will hold up its end of the bargain, but Divergent is poised for an opening of at least $50 million. It looks likes 2014 will again win over 2013.

There's good news and bad news with regards to Divergent, the latest in a long ling of adaptations of a young adult novel. Harry Potter started this trend back in 2001 and ever since then every studio has tried to find the next big young adult franchise. Sometimes they find a hit, like with Twilight or The Hunger Games. Most of the time, on the other hand, they flop. Given the film's reviews, it is likely to be one of the flops. However, there are some small reasons to still be bullish. Most of the negative reviews focus on two aspects. Firstly, it feels like just the first part of the story and doesn't have a satisfying conclusion to the story it tells. Secondly, most critics complain that the story feels very familiar. There's not a lot in Divergent that's different than The Hunger Games, for example. While critics have been slamming the film for these problems, fans of the books will likely be more willing to overlook these, because the novels were the same. Therefore, this likely won't seriously hurt the film's chances at the box office with fans of the novels. On the other hand, it likely won't win over those who haven't already enjoyed the books. This limits its box office potential and I no longer think it will have the legs to become a monster hit. That said, most think it should still open with north of $50 million, perhaps even $60 million, and I'm predicting $53 million.

Muppets Most Wanted is the eighth film in the Muppets franchise. The Muppets, its immediate predecessor, was the biggest hit in the franchise to date, that is if you look at raw box office numbers and not ticket sales. The Muppets also earned near perfect reviews, which should translate into good will for this movie. Muppets Most Wanted is earning great reviews, especially for a kids movie, although they are weaker than its predecessor's reviews were. It doesn't have to deal with direct competition opening this weekend, but there are three kids movies still playing in wide or semi-wide release, so the combined competition could hurt it at the box office. It might open below $20 million, but it could also open north of $30 million. I'm going with $27 million.

Speaking of direct competition, Mr. Peabody and Sherman should land in third place with about $12 million over the weekend for a running tally of $82 million. It will remain on pace for $100 million, but it will take a couple more weeks to get there.

300: Rise of an Empire will spend one more weekend in the top five with just over $9 million over the weekend for a total of $95 million after three weeks of release. It should top $100 million after the fourth week of release.

Need for Speed should round out the top five with just under $8 million giving it about $30 million after ten days of release. This is not a good start for a film that cost $66 million to make, but it is doing relatively better internationally, so breaking even isn't out of the question.

There's one more new release to talk about, God's Not Dead, the latest faith-based film to hit theaters. It has no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but its target audience doesn't look to critics when it comes to movie recommendations, so this shouldn't prove fatal. On the other hand, faith-based films have a mixed track record in theaters. Some, like Courageous, make millions. Others, like Unconditional, miss the Mendoza Line before quickly disappearing. If this film can earn $4,000 on the per theater average, it will have a shot at the top ten. Ironically, it will be battling Son of God for tenth place. I think it will get there with just over $3 million.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, 300: Rise of an Empire, Need for Speed, Divergent, Muppets Most Wanted, Son of God, God’s Not Dead, Harry Potter, Muppets, Twilight, Hunger Games