"Divergent" wins the race to No. 1 on domestic box office against "Muppets Most Wanted". Directed by Neil Burger and led by Shailene Woodley, the young adult book adaptation debuts atop the movie chart with approximately $56 million, including $22.8 million ticket sales on Friday.
Costing $85M to produce, the film revolves around a female youngster who is fighting for survival after failing to fit into one of the five strictly controlled factions in a dystopian society. It gets an A from CinemaScore and lured 69% of female audience. It will expand into theaters overseas on April 4.
Though pale in comparison to previous YA blockbusters like "The Hunger Games" ($152.5 million in 2012) and "Twilight" ($69.6 million in 2008), "Divergent" solidly met expectation without really exceeding it. The number is also enough to give Lionsgate confidence to greenlight the sequel, "Insurgent".
"This is a great start to another franchise," said Richie Fay, Lionsgate's president of domestic distribution. "The key to the success of these franchises is finding the difference and marketing it. It's not easy. And I think we're doing it better than anyone else right now, frankly."
"Muppets" settles at the runner-up place on its first weekend. The family-oriented film supported by Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Ty Burrell is expected to finish the weekend with $16.5 million. Taking the muppets on a tour across Europe, it receives a B+ grade from CinemaScore.
By comparison, the first "Muppets" film opened to $29 million in 2011. "Overall it's a little disappointing," admitted Dave Hollis, Disney's president of global theatrical distribution. However, he's confident it "will likely hit $100 million or more worldwide on a budget of $54 million."
The Mouse House's executive additionally insisted that there was never comparison between the first and second films because the first one got the advantage of Thanksgiving weekend when it first hit the market. "They are totally different propositions," he explained.
Another new release making it to the top 10 is "God's Not Dead". The Christian film becomes the biggest surprise of the week as it rounds up the top 5 with around $8.6 million, sitting just behind "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" ($11.7 million) and "300: Rise of an Empire" ($8.7 million).
Next week, another biblical film is set to make its debut. "Noah" directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Russell Crowe has grossed $14 million in Mexico and South Korea, where it was screened a week ahead of North America.
Meanwhile, Lars von Trier's sexually-charged drama "Nymphomaniac: Volume 1" tanked despite its A-list cast ensemble that includes Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe, and Stellan Skarsgard. The film which was released unrated after getting slapped with NC-17 rating from MPAA could only open to an estimated $175,000 from 22 locations for $7,000 per-location average. Aside from getting limited theatrical release, it's also made available on VOD.