Box Office Top 10 Film Film News

Box Office: Divergent Opens Big, Just Not Twilight-Big, Not Enough People Wanted Muppet’s Most Wanted

To see our other box office top 10 breakdowns please go here.

So, here’s what happened this weekend at the domestic box office: we woke up to a brave new world which hasn’t existed since before last Thanksgiving – a world in which Frozen is not a film in the domestic box office top 10.  In the end, the thing that finally killed Frozen was, well, Frozen, which just came out on Blu-Ray and DVD, thus no longer forcing people to go to a theater to sing-a-long to their favorite songs.  Elsewhere, Divergent did exactly enough to begin a new film franchise, but not enough to be a film franchise as big as Twilight or Hunger Games.  Plus, The Muppets reverted to franchise norms with Most Wanted.  Let’s break it down:

Top 10 Actual Domestic Totals (3/21-3/23)

1. Divergent (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$54.6 million
  • Budget=$85 million

Foreign: Doesn’t begin its conquering of international territories until early April.

Finally!  One of these dang YA novel adaptations not named Harry Potter, Twilight, or The Hunger Games had to hit big.  A $54.6 million debut is actually a bit below what experts were predicting a mere 4 days ago, at which point Divergent was projected to come close to matching Twilight‘s $69 million opening weekend from back in 2008.  However, a $54.6 million weekend pull is good enough to be second best of 2014 (LEGO Movie‘s $69 million debut is still the biggest of the year so far).  Plus, not only is it astronomically better than the openings of recent dead-on-arrival would-be YA film franchises, it’s also higher than any of those films made during their entire theatrical runs:

Vampire Academy
  • Vampire Academy (2014): $3.9 million opening/$7.7 million total domestic gross
  • The Mortal Instruments (2013): $9.3 million opening/$31 million total domestic gross
  • The Host (2013): $10.6 million opening/$26 million total domestic gross
  • Beautiful Creatures (2013): $7.5 million/$19 million total domestic gross
  • Cirque de Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009): $6.2 million/$13 million total domestic gross

Of course, not all of the YA adaptations have been complete bombs, but Divergent’s $54.6 million is still better than the openings of recent tweeners like:

Ender’s Game
  • Ender’s Game (2013): $27 million
  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013): $14 million
  • I Am Number Four (2011): $19 million
  • Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief (2010): $31 million

Here’s the Debbie Downer: at one point, The Hunger Games was similarly pinning all of its hopes on the chances that their somewhat unknown lead actress could carry her own picture and win over audiences They were just a YA movie looking to cash in on the Harry Potter/Twilight craze, seemingly no different than anyone else.  Of course, then the first Hunger Games had one of the best opening weekends of all time ($152 million), and its sequel did even better ($158 million).  Divergent didn’t come even remotely close to anything on that level.   So, no, Divergent is not Hunger Games nor is it even Twilight, in terms of box office prestige.  What it is, though, is an instant hit, and that’s more than most other YA films could say after 3 days (if ever).

Interestingly, according to THR only half of ticket buyers claimed to have actually read any of the Divergent novels, compared to the 74% for Twilight and 76% for Hunger Games.  While most of the audience was female (69%), as expected, half of the audience was over the age of 25, indicating Divergent better appealed to older audiences than expected or a lot of parents were dragged to Divergent by their kid(s).   Either way, after last year’s death march of YA films many involved parties in Hollywood desperately needed Divergent to do well.  It opened big enough that the people putting out upcoming YA films like The Giver and Maize Runner can feel a little better right about now.

2. Muppet’s Most Wanted (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$17 million
  • Budget=$50 million

Foreign: $1.5. million from 8 markets this weekend for a worldwide debut of $18.5 million.

In 2011, adorable, overgrown man-child Jason Segel delivered unto the world The Muppets, the first feature-length film for Kermit & the gang since 1999’s Muppets from Space.  Thankfully, absence had indeed made the heart grow fonder, and The Muppets opened with $41 million over Thanksgiving, $29 million of that from the weekend.  It ended up with $88 million domestic/$165 million worldwide, enough to become the highest grossing Muppets title of all time, second highest behind The Muppet Movie (1979) after you adjust for inflation.  However, Segel and co-star Amy Adams chose not to return for the sequel, replaced with the deeply polarizing Ricky Gervais and TV stars with mixed (Tina Fey, Ty Burrell) box office track records.  At least Flight of the Conchords‘ Brett McKenzie is back writing the songs (he co-wrote them with Segel for The Muppets).  However, add all of that on top of competition from carryover family films like Mr. Peabody & Sherman and LEGO Movie, and the result you get is Muppets Most Wanted landing with a bit of a thud at $17 million.

Even after you adjust for inflation The Muppets franchise only averages opening weekends in the $14 million territory.  So, really, The Muppets opening in 2011 was a Thanksgiving-inflated, nostalgia-enabled outlier while Muppets Most Wanted’s seems like a reversion back to franchise norms.  That’s not ideal, but not crushing either, considering Most Wanted‘s $50 million budget.

3. Mr. Peabody & Sherman


  • Weekend Gross=$11.8 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$81.1 million
  • Budget=$145 million

Foreign: Currently, its’ total international gross stands at $102 million making for a worldwide total of $183.1 million

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is not a world beater like Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, or Frozen, but being on pace to eclipse $100 million domestic puts it right in that mid-tier category of animated films, alongside the two Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs films, Epic, and Rise of the Guardians.   It’s certainly going to end up making more than Turbo ($83 million) and Planes ($90 million).  However, that just isn’t good enough for something that cost $145 million to produce, and unlike fellow DreamWorks release The Croods it has not become a huge hit overseas to compensate.

4. God’s Not Dead (Opening Weekend)

God's Not Dead

  • Opening Weekend Gross=$9.2 million
  • Budget=They’re not telling

Foreign: The rest of the world didn’t get to assess God’s “Dead”/”Not Dead” status; this was a domestic-only release

What the heck is God’s Not Dead?  It’s a Christian indie drama from Pure Flix Entertainment, who put it into 780 theaters:

“Based on the book of the same name by Rice Broocks and Daniel Bashta’s song ‘Like a Lion,’ God’s Not Dead stars Shane Harper as a college student whose philosophy professor forces him to sign a declaration that ‘God is dead.’ When the student refuses, he’s ordered to prove his position that God exists in a series of debates. Directed by Harold Cronk, the indie movie also stars KevinSorbo, Jim Gleason, David A.R. White and Dean Cain.”

 Christian films not named Passion of the Christ or the Chronicles of Narnia quite often fail to ever crack the top 10, though if they do their opening weekends usually have a ceiling of around $10 million.  Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s Son of God broke that trend earlier this month, opening at $25 million.  God’s Not Dead‘s opening is more on par with the likes of Courageous ($9 million in 2011) and Fireproof ($6.8 million in 2008).

5. 300: Rise of an Empire


  • Weekend Gross=$8.5 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$93.6 million
  • Budget=$110 million

Foreign: $21 million from 63 territories this weekend for a new total foreign gross of $195.4 million and worldwide total of $289.1 million.

As Rise of Empire continues its inevitable slide down the top 10, it sits at $93.6 million domestic, and will not come close to matching 300‘s domestic total of $210 million from 2007.  However, it has a very real shot of passing 300‘s foreign total of $245 million since international audiences just can’t get enough of the 3D spectacle of Rise of an Empire.

6. Need for Speed 

download (8)

  • Weekend Gross=$7.9 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$30.6 million
  • Budget=$66 million

Foreign: $29.2 million from 55 territories this weekend for a new total foreign gross of $93.8 million and worldwide total of $126.7 million.

We have another RoboCop/Pacific Rim situation on our hands.   Those were domestic disappointments which cleaned up overseas, gathering around 75% of their worldwide gross from foreign markets.  Pacific Rim actually made more in China ($111 million) than it did in North America ($101 million).  Even with China being our new overlords, that’s still rare among big budget American films.  Now, it’s happening again with Need for Speed, which has grossed $41 million in China compared to $30 million here.  So, among video game adaptations Need for Speed is mimicking the Resident Evil films, which though based on crazy popular video games have never been big hits at home despite packing in the crowds everywhere else.

7. Grand Budapest Hotel

download (9)

  • Weekend Gross=$6.7 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$12.9 million
  • Budget=They’re not telling

Foreign: Currently, its’ total international gross stands at $33.1 million making for a worldwide total of $46 million

The Grand Budapest Hotel continued its slow roll-out strategy, expanding into 238 additional theaters for a new total of 304.  The result was a weekend gross which marked an 85% improvement over last weekend’s $3.6 million, and a repeat performance of easily having the best per-theater average ($22,204) of any film out at the moment.

 8. Non-Stop


  • Weekend Gross=$6.4 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$78.7 million
  • Budget=$50 million

Foreign: Currently, its has a combined international gross of $63.4 million for a worldwide total of $142.1 million.

Non-Stop has been out for 24 days now.  So, let’s look at the 24-day grosses of prior Liam Neeson action films:

  • The Grey ($48 million)
  • Unknown ($58 million)
  • Taken ($95 million)
  • Taken 2 ($117 million)

As a point of comparison, Liam Neeson wannabe Kevin Costner’s Taken rip-off 3 Days to Kill is still in theaters, but only sitting at a domestic total of $29 million.

9. The LEGO Movie


  • Weekend Gross=$4.1 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$243.3 million
  • Budget=$60 Million

Foreign: Currently, its has a combined international gross of $147.6 million for a worldwide total of $390.9 million.

The LEGO Movie is now easily the biggest domestic hit among recent films to be released between January and April-better than The Lorax ($214 million), Monsters Vs. Aliens ($198 million), Ice Age 2 ($195 million), and Ice Age ($176 million).  However, after inflation the Ice Age titles adjust up to $253 million (Ice Age) and $249 million (Ice Age 2) respectively.  Plus, even without the benefit of inflation adjustments both were much bigger hits overseas (e.g., Ice Age 2 made $460 million in foreign gross alone).  What does that tell us?  Among films released at this general time of the year, LEGO Movie was a bigger deal than The Lorax and Monsters Vs. Aliens, but no match for the Ice Age franchise.

10. Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club

Tyler Perry Single Mom

  • Weekend Gross=$3.1 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$12.9 million
  • Budget=They’re not telling

Foreign: Not currently scheduled to play outside of North America.

Last weekend, Single Mom’s Club posted the worst opening of Tyler Perry’s career as a director.  Things weren’t much better this weekend.  The inevitable has likely finally occurred: after releasing 15 films since 2007 the Tyler Perry brand has reached the overexposure point.  This will severely damage Perry’s negotiating power now that Lionsgate has cut him loose, and will no longer serve as the exclusive domestic distributor of the Tyler Perry brand films.  Meanwhile, Perry recently shuttered his Los Angeles offices in a downsizing effort to consolidate all of his production company’s activities to their pre-existing Atlanta, GA offices.

What Happened Outside of the Top 10?

Who Fell Out of the Top 10?: Son of God (#7 to #11), Frozen (#9 to #13), The Monuments Men (#10 to #12)  – Monuments Men enjoyed a solid 6-week run in the top 10, but it cost $70 million to produce meaning its break-even point is $140 million worldwide.  It’s only at $130 million worldwide at the moment.

What About Veronica Mars?: It plummeted 75%, finishing at #17 with a gross of $490,000 for the weekend.  This came despite actually playing in 56 more theaters than last weekend.  What else should we have expected from a film continuation of a cult TV series?  They made nearly half of last weekend’s total in their first day which highly signaled that this was not going to stick around very long.  Why should it?  You can go rent/buy it on VOD right now.


What’s Up Next?: Paramount’s $125 million gamble on director Darren Aronofsky’s revisionist telling of the biblical tale of Noah opens on Friday.  Noah has already been banned in several countries, the Vatican gave a visting Aronofsky & company the cold shoulder, and due to uproar from early screenings Paramount has now affixed a disclaimer to all prints of Noah, reading as follows: “The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide.”  Nowhere near as controversial will be a “they took my wife – this time it’s personal” action fest from Arnold Schwarzenegger (Sabotage), also opening wide on Friday.

UPDATED 3/25/14 – The actual weekend totals are now reflected in the above article.  The biggest change?  God’s Not Dead actually finished 4th, not 5th as originally estimated. 

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