March 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
March 4, 2016
4. The Divergent Series: Allegiant (March 18th)
Chronologists among us will know that Allegiant is the third chapter in this YA dystopian (is there any other kind?) science fiction series, and the first half of two split-off adaptations of the same book (the final episode is coming next year). And just as is true for the month's numerous other sequels, little of relevance has changed from its predecessors: Allegiant keeps the third weekend of March release date ensconced by the first two films, the cast of very young and excitable freedom fighters is still led by Shailene Woodley and Theo James, the supporting players are just about all back (except for those whose characters have died horrible deaths in previous films), and it seems that most of the series' fans are still on board to continue with this enterprise, through rain or shine. Among new faces are Bill Skarsgård (of the acting family of that name) and Jeff Daniels, who seems to be playing his usual unblinking bureaucrat. There's one other striking difference here: while the first two Divergents were set in an enclosed city-state, this third title expands the universe into the great unknown beyond the city's walls.
Examining Divergent's box office history, a clear pattern can be detected: the second film retained a similar opening weekend to the first ($52 million to $54 million) but dropped in take, finishing with $130 million to the original's $150 mil, which almost certainly means that the series' first (and longest, two and a half hours!) film will likely remain its biggest. While it's perhaps not totally accurate to compare the Divergent series directly to its older and more popular distant cousin, the Hunger Games pictures, there's a clearly similar pattern of franchise fatigue, and it seems possible that this third film will be the first not to crack $100 million, even if its numbers are still quite respectable.
Opening weekend: $38 million / Total gross: $85 million
5. Miracles from Heaven (March 16th)
If this drama, about an ill child's religious experience and subsequent remarkable recovery, seems vaguely familiar, that's because it comes from the studio (Columbia/TriStar) and producers (T. D. Jakes and Joe Roth) of the recent spiritual drama Heaven Is For Real. They've clearly found a format that works, and that formula is very specific: a well-known actor starring in the lead of a religious book adaptation (Greg Kinnear in the older film, Jennifer Garner this time), a true story about a child's near-death experience (a boy in the former film, a girl in this one), and "heaven" in the title to announce the film's theme directly and clearly.
Heaven is for Real opened with $22 million and finished with no less than $91 million, and, as such, a box office prognosticator can't really complain about this film's chances: the book is a reasonable seller, the timing (a week before Easter weekend) is right, and modern day-set faith-based films from major studios play well when the makers tap directly into their demographic with their marketing, which I'm very sure they're doing (as we speak). Between Risen and The Young Messiah, there's a lot of material at the movies for those who seek Christian films, but I think this one stands out and will probably more or less replicate the success of its predecessor.
Opening weekend: $22 million (5-day) / Total gross: $73 million