Box Office: 'Divergent' Nabs $4.9 Million Thursday Night

 Summit Entertainment

Summit Entertainment's Divergent grossed a strong $4.9 million Thursday night as it began rolling out in North America.

Based on prerelease tracking, box-office observers believe the movie could post an opening weekend gross as high as $60 million (Summit is being more conservative and saying $50 million-plus). While neither number will match Summit's Twilight and Lionsgate's The Hunger Games, it would break the curse that has plagued nearly every other YA film adaptation and provide a strong launch for what's a planned franchise.

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Neil Burger directed the $85 million sci-fi adventure, which expands into a total of 3,900 locations on Friday, including nearly 350 Imax locations. Based on the best-selling book series by Veronica Roth, Divergent stars Shailene Woodley as a young woman who poses a threat to society after failing to fit into one of five strictly controlled factions.

"We're off to a great start with strong numbers from all regions of the country, urban, suburban and rural alike,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer (Summit is now part of Lionsgate). “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's Thursday night number paled in comparison to the $19.7 million earned by The Hunger Games, and came in behind the $7 million grossed in midnight runs by the first Twilight.

Summit pointed out that the movie did exceed the $3.6 million grossed Thursday night by last summer's World War Z, which went on to earn $53.1 million for the weekend, as well as the $3.3 million earned Thursday night by The Great Gatsby, which launched to $50.1 million.

Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer and Kate Winslet also star in Divergent. The film won't begin rolling out internationally in earnest until April 4.

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In November 2008, the first Twilight debuted domestically to $69.6 million; four years later, The Hunger Games opened to a massive $152.5 million, one of the biggest openings of all time. While primarily fueled by younger families, both movies managed to appeal to other demos as well, especially older females. Divergent, however, may not have the same crossover potential and could be hurt among adults by poor reviews.

Still, Divergent has every shot at being a win overall for Summit and producers Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher and Pouya Shahbazian. And it will certainly command the top spot at the domestic box office, where its nearest competition will be Disney's family sequel Muppets Most Wanted.

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Muppets Most Wanted, launching in more than 3,100 theaters amid competition from other family films, including Mr. Peabody & Sherman, is tracking to open between $25 million and $30 million. The Muppets grossed $29 million on its first weekend, but had the advantage of opening over Thanksgiving (launching on a Wednesday, it earned just north of $41 million in its first five days). 

James Bobin returns to direct the $50 million Muppets sequel, with Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey replacing Jason Segel and Amy Adams as the live-action leads. This time out, Kermit and the gang find themselves lured into an international crime caper while on tour in Europe. Muppets Most Wanted has earned solid-to-good reviews, compared to stellar notices for The Muppets.

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