Summit's "Divergent" sequel, "Insurgent", is officially given a go by Lionsgate which acquired the "Twilight"-producing studio back in 2012. The decision was made following the impressive debut made by the first film during the midnight screening on Thursday, March 20.
The first installment of the new YA franchise collected a strong $4.9 million on its first day. Although the number is not as big as those made by Summit's "Twilight" and Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games", it's enough to make the follow-up get a vote of confidence from the parent company.
"We're off to a great start with strong numbers from all regions of the country, urban, suburban and rural alike," said Lionsgate's CEO Jon Feltheimer. "We're confident that Divergent is on its way to becoming another important franchise for us, and we have just greenlighted the second film, Insurgent."
"Divergent" which stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James will expand into a total of 3,900 locations on Friday, including around 350 Imax screens. It's projected to finish the weekend with $60 million or more. Summit itself is more conservative, only predicting a possible $50M debut.
Back in 2008, the first "Twilight" film opened to $7 million. Meanwhile, "The Hunger Games" grossed $19.7 million two years ago, and later "Harry Potter" movies nabbed double digits at midnight. In December last year, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" opened to $8.8 million.
However, "Divergent" did surpass "World War Z" which got $3.6 million on Thursday night last summer and went on to earn $53.1 million for the weekend. It also outdid "The Great Gatsby" which opened to the $3.3 million on Thursday night and finished the weekend with $50.1 million.
"Insurgent" is due March 20, 2015. Shailene is expected to reprise her role and Robert Schwentke boards as a director, taking the helming duty from Neil Burger, who directed the first film. The third installment, "Allegiant", will follow March 18, 2016.
Burger recently explained why he couldn't return for the sequel, "There's always going to be overlap, but it was getting really complicated. There was no breathing room. They were like, 'We're holding to a March 2015 release date, and we have to start no later than May 2014.' "
He added, "It was a recipe for failure, at least with me onboard. I wouldn't be able to do either thing right. I reluctantly let it go."