Lionsgate Execs Talk 'Divergent' Release, Sharp Rise in Book Sales

The mini-studio is working with international publishers to build the readership base for the teen tentpole before it hits theaters on March 21.

VANCOUVER -- Lionsgate execs on Friday talked up Summit's forthcoming release of the YA dystopian feature Divergent, especially its global potential on the backs of increasing sales of the Veronica Roth novels.

"Our distributors are very excited about the international possibilities," Rob Friedman, co-chairman of the Lionsgate motion picture group, told analysts Friday after the release Thursday of the mini-studio's third-quarter earnings.

As with the earlier Hunger Games and Twilight franchises, domestic sales of the Divergent book series are ahead of the international sales and will build out from the U.S. market.

Lionsgate is working with international book publishers to build the readership base for Divergent ahead of the teen tentpole, which stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James, hitting theaters March 21 in the U.S. and April 4 in the U.K.

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Friedman said around 13 million books are in circulation to date.

"We've had a tremendous trajectory in book sales, especially pre-Christmas, going through to the opening," Friedman said, as Lionsgate works with Divergent book publisher HarperCollins on both the merchandising and marketing sides.

Summit output partners are releasing Divergent, with a rollout strategy to follow the earlier Twilight franchise releases, with each territory licensed to a local distributor.

Besides book sales, social media is playing an increasing and cost-effective role in marketing Divergent.

"[Social media] is an efficient and more effective way to reach our audience, so we tend to try to keep our costs down by utilizing those media aggressively," Friedman said.

Neil Burger directed Divergent from a screenplay by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor.

Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer and Kate Winslet also star.

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer also told analysts Friday that the Divergent sequel Insurgent is set for a summer 2014 shoot and a March 2015 release.