Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
March 19, 2016
Sometimes sticking with the plan is a bad idea, even if the plan has worked before.
Over the past decade, Lionsgate has excelled in making tween lit cinematic adaptations that keep fans hooked enough to keep coming back. Whether you believe Twilight or The Hunger Games was the most successful of these, both franchises took three books and turned them into four movies. Today, that same strategy is coming back to haunt the studio.
Last year, Lionsgate released The Divergent Series: Insurgent, the second film in the Divergent franchise. With a 29% score at Rotten Tomatoes, the film had a decline in quality from the already-substandard 40% that the original movie scored. Fans responded by rewarding the film with a slightly lower opening weekend than the original, as Insurgent earned $52.3 million compared to Divergent’s $54.6 million. The news never improved for the sequel, either. It came in with a domestic total of $130.2 million versus the $150.9 million that Divergent earned. Somehow, the studio convinced themselves that even with the domestic decline, the slight uptick in worldwide earnings was enough to justify not only carrying on with an adaptation of the third book, but to split that third book into two films.
While this move worked for films in the Twilight series, Harry Potter and to a lesser degree The Hunger Games (it showed some significant attrition from Catching Fire to Mockingjay Part 1 and then even more to Mockingjay Part 2), there was nothing in the performance of Insurgent that should have convinced Lionsgate that this is a franchise worth carrying on. That second film in the series had a $110 million budget, which means that if the studio did make money from the production, it was an insignificant amount at best. The decline from the first film to the second should have been a serious warning sign that it was time to wrap things up, because unpredictable teen audiences clearly weren’t maintaining the ardor that they had shown for past fantasy series.
At this point, it should be no surprise that the newest film in the Divergent franchise, Allegiant, debuted with only $11.9 million yesterday, and that number includes $2.35 million from Thursday night previews (down significantly from Insurgent’s $4.1 million). That means that the “true” Friday number was only $9.55 million - a sub-$10 million performance. Allegiant was down a whopping 44% from Insurgent’s opening Friday (and nearly 50% from Divergent’s first day). Let’s explore all the ways in which Allegiant’s debut yesterday spells disaster for Lionsgate, which is pot committed to yet another film in 2017.
Remember when we mentioned Insurgent’s miserable 29% score at Rotten Tomatoes? Well, that’s the kind of review score the Allegiant could only dream of attaining. It currently sits at just 10% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes - 0% from Top Critics. Where audiences rewarded the first two films with Cinemascores of A and A-, respectively, Allegiant could only scrabble its way up to a B, which is generally a terrible sign for a movie with fanboy appeal.