‘Divergent’ Predictably Tops Box Office, But Will ‘Noah’ Sink It?

divergent_gallery_new_03

It looks as though Divergent will continue its box office domination for another weekend despite receiving poor reviews from critics. The film, based on the popular series of young adult novels by Veronica Roth, pulled in $54.6 million over its opening weekend — and there’s not much competition approaching for the coming weekend.

Divergent knocked the animated children’s movie Mr. Peabody & Sherman out of the top spot. That movie fell to third place with its box office pull dropping 45.7 percent to $11.8 million. Muppets Most Wanted debuted at a distant second, making $17 million over its opening weekend. The Christian-oriented film God’s Not Dead surprised many by making over $9.2 million at the mere 780 theaters it opened in, taking the fourth place spot. According to BoxOfficeMojo, that film now ranks seventh in opening weekend box office draw for faith-based movies. The sequel 300: Rise of an Empire dropped from second place to fifth with its box office take dropping 55.7 percent to $8.5 million.

Wes Anderson’s much-anticipated The Grand Budapest Hotel has continued to grow its box office draw by slowly opening in more and more theaters, enticing viewers with acclaim via both critics and word-of-mouth. The movie added 288 theaters over the weekend and increased its box office take 86.6 percent to $6.8 million. The film currently has a 91 percent fresh rating among both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, and is said will appeal to fans of the cult director’s previous work.

Films set to open this weekend that could give Divergent a run for its money include the Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick Sabotage as well as Noah, a retelling of the flood story from the Bible directed by Daniel Aronofsky and starring Russell Crowe. Given Sabotage’s R rating and Noah’s religious plot, neither seem very likely to unseat Divergent, although Noah could scoop up some of God’s Not Dead’s audience as well as Aronofsky fans.

Lions Gate stock suffered at the end of last week on the Divergent’s poor reviews, but just over the weekend the movie came close to making back nearly all of its $85 million production budget. Still, that $54.8 million is nowhere near the $158 million made by the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire during its first weekend in theaters back in November. Critics and industry watchers had estimated that Divergent would make between $50 and $68 million during its opening weekend.

The dystopian world of Divergent is set up in five different “factions.” At 16, citizens must decide whether to stay in the faction that they were born in with their families or move to a new faction on their own. Woodley plays Tris, the main character in the series, who chooses to leave her family in “Abnegation” to join the “Dauntless” faction consisting of the police and military, and goes through some tough training to prove her worth as a fighter. She’s set up against the antagonist leader of the “Erudite” faction played by Kate Winslet.

Lions Gate, which is also the studio behind the Hunger Games films, was seeking to capitalize on the highly popular genre of films based on young adult novels set in dystopian futures with strong female leads, but Divergent was criticized for not being original enough. Divergent has been much compared to the Hunger Games and its star Shailene Woodley has been called the next Jennifer Lawrence. While Woodley’s performance was almost the only aspect of the film praised by critics, it remains to be seen if she can live up to that lofty comparison, or if Divergent can live up to the Hunger Games’ huge box office draw.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS