No Divergence for Insurgent from Original
By John Hamann
March 22, 2015
Been there, done that. The Divergent Series: Insurgent replicates the success of the original Divergent. Same weekend, same audience, similar opening weekend. Cloned movies attended by cloned teenagers.
Our big new release of the weekend is The Divergent Series: Insurgent, as no one would know the origins of Insurgent without the silly preface before the title. Exactly one year ago, Divergent, or The Divergent Series: Divergent, opened to $54.6 million from 3,936 theaters. Lionsgate spent $85 million bringing the book to the screen, and the Shailene Woodley starrer earned $151 million domestic and $137.8 million overseas for a worldwide take of $288.8 million. Normally, I think that a film needs to earn three times its budget worldwide to see a profit, so this one would have just squeaked by before making a small fortune through digital download. Lionsgate didn’t mind, this was just the set up to much bigger things coming in Rounds 2 and 3. We got the first taste of that plan this weekend.
Also opening this weekend is The Gunman, starring an out-of-his-element Sean Penn, and with so many R-rated action releases out, this movie had no chance of surviving this weekend. Our last opener is Do You Believe?, another faith based drama, this time trying to use the same formula of last year’s God’s Not Dead, which earned $60.8 million last year against a $2 million budget.
Number one, of course, is Insurgent, a title I always need to check I have right due to its similarity to that of the original. After months of marketing, Insurgent finally got started with previews on Thursday, where the Veronica Roth adaptation got started with $4.1 million. Surprisingly, that is less than the $4.9 million than the original earned a year ago and likely was a little troubling for Lionsgate, who invested more in the sequel than they did in the original, which wasn’t cheap at $85 million. Over the Thursday-to-Friday period combined, the original movie earned $22.8 million, with $17.9 million earned over its first Friday. The sequel made $17.2 million on Friday. With Insurgent being a sequel, the likelihood of making up the gap over the remainder of the weekend was small, given that sequels are usually more front-loaded than originals. However, given the fanbase around the books, that drive to see the first one made it behave more like a sequel. The original earned an internal weekend multiplier of 2.4, and the sequel would need to improve on that to get ahead.
Over the entire weekend, Insurgent earned a decent but unspectacular $54 million from 3,875 venues. It had a venue average of $13,942, keeping theaters happy, but I am not sure if Lionsgate is going to feel the same. Why is it important that the sequel improve on the original when we are talking about $50 million plus opening weekends? Because Lionsgate spent $25 million more making the sequel than they did the original, which means the film needs to generate an additional $75 million in worldwide revenue. Given that Divergent's domestic total outgrossed that of the overseas take, increasing the domestic total was key to the original, although the overseas gross should improve now that the first film laid the ground work.