Dystopian thriller Divergent, the story of a society that divides people based on personality traits, dominated weekend movie charts with $56 million in USA and Canadian ticket sales, kicking off a new franchise for Hunger Games producer Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. Walt Disney Co family comedy Muppets Most Wanted finished in second place, earning $16.5 million from Friday through Sunday, according to estimates provided by Rentrak. Animated Mr. Peabody & Sherman, produced by Dreamworks Animation Inc, took the No. 3 slot with $11.7 million.
Divergent is adapted from a popular series of young adult novels by newcomer author Veronica Roth. Ahead of the weekend, forecasters had predicted the film would debut between $50 million and $68 million in North American (U.S. and Canadian) ticket sales. Shailene Woodley stars in Divergent as Tris Prior, a teenager who doesn’t fit into a faction because she has multiple dominant personality traits, making her a threat to the government. She chooses to join the dauntless faction of warriors who defend the society’s inhabitants. British actor Theo James plays Four, Tris’ mentor and love interest. The debut of Divergent fell short of the box -office heights of two other young adult franchises. Hunger Games started with a massive $152.5 million in March 2012 while Twilight opened with $69.6 million in November 2008. Lions Gate said Friday it was confident Divergent would become an important franchise for the company and it was moving ahead with the second film in the series, called Insurgent, that will reach theaters in March 2015.
Noting that the Divergent opening was shy of blockbusters Hunger Games and Twilight, Jeff Bock, senior box- office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., said “$56 million is a great opening for any film, and virtually locked down the proposed trilogy.
“This is something to build on for the series, and with the cast expected to be in high demand, the Divergent legacy will continue to grow.” Richie Fay, the studio’s domestic distribution president said, “We’re very pleased with the outcome of the franchise launch.” The movie’s A+ CinemaScore grade from the under 18 audience bodes well for the coming weeks as spring break and Easter school holidays approach, Fay said, noting, “Young adult audience have been undeserved in the last couple of weeks.” According to a source close to the production house, the company spent $85 million to produce Divergent, plus $40 million to $45 million on marketing. The studio has recouped about $70 million of the cost through international licensing deals.
Muppets Most Wanted, a sequel to the 2011 Muppets, stars Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell alongside Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog and other classic Muppet characters. In the new film, Kermit is imprisoned in a Russian gulag in a case of mistaken identity, while an evil impostor travels with his muppet friends on an European tour.
Mr. Peabody and Sherman brought its global sales through three weekends to $172 million. The movie was distributed by 20th Century Fox. Rounding out the domestic charts, Greek warrior sequel 300: Rise of an Empire stood at the fourth place with $8.7 million, while the new release God’s Not Dead pulled in $8.6 million to claim the fifth spot.
Homeland actor James Rebhorn is no more
James Rebhorn, the tall, lanky character actor who appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, including the Showtime political thriller Homeland, passed away at 65. Rebhorn who was suffering from melanoma was at his home in New Jersey. According to the New York Times, his agent, Dianne Busch was not available for comment.
The actor worked regularly in film, television and on stage and appeared in more than 50 films, including Independence Day, My Cousin Vinny, Basic Instinct and Cold Mountain. According to the Internet Movie Database, he was also known for his role in the 1992 flick, Scent of A Woman .
As a stage actor, he appeared in a revival of Twelve Angry Men in 2004. He had played numerous roles on television, including a memorable part as the assistant district attorney who sent the Seinfeld cast to jail in the series’ finale. He had most recently appeared in Homeland as Frank Mathison, the father of Carrie Mathison, the CIA officer played by Claire Danes. The show featured how the daughter and father overcome bipolar disorder. Rebhorn was born on September 1, 1948, in Philadelphia and is survived by wife Rebecca Linn and two daughters, Hannah and Emma.