Thursday, March 26, 2015

'Insurgent' tops box office in opening weekend

I teased my readers three times then offered a rain check.
I told my readers to "stay tuned for a delayed entertainment entry about "Insurgent," the sequel to Divergent as well as more retrospectives" at the end of Top post for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News: James Robertson.  My readers will have to wait, as breaking news is shouldering that planned post aside.
It's time to redeem that rain check.  Follow over the jump for news about the movie from Daily Variety by way of Reuters and Vox plus my comments about the first movie.

First, Brent Lang of Daily Variety reported via Reuters reported Sunday Box Office: ‘Insurgent’ tops with $54 million, 'Gunman’ flops.
“Insurgent” topped the weekend box office with $54 million, but its opening will likely fall just short of the numbers put up a year ago by the first film in the “Divergent” series.

That’s a disappointment for Lionsgate, the studio behind the adaptations of Veronica Roth’s best-selling books about a dystopian future. It hoped that the franchise would be able to build on its initial start, aided by star Shailene Woodley’s higher profile following the success of “The Fault in Our Stars.” Going into the weekend, Lionsgate had been projecting an opening of between $57 million to $60 million.

“Insurgent’s” audience was 60 percent female and 55 percent under 25. Hispanics made up 17 percent of the opening weekend crowd and African-Americans comprised 11 percent of ticket buyers.

The studio says it's happy with the results, noting that with an A-minus CinemaScore and a lack of upcoming film releases pegged at teenage girls, “Insurgent” has a clear runway.

“Our playability is incredibly strong,” said Richie Fay, Lionsgate’s distribution chief. “We’re seeing a few more males than we did on the first one and we’re seeing an overall broadening of the audience.”

“Insurgent” cost $110 million to produce, roughly $25 million more than “Divergent” racked up in production fees. “Divergent” opened to $54.6 million before going on to make $288.7 million globally.

Internationally, “Insurgent” grossed an estimated $47 million in 76 markets. Even if the film’s domestic results are weaker than Lionsgate might have hoped, foreign markets where Roth’s books have grown more popular over the last year could make up the difference, leading to a greater worldwide bounty.
So it's not 'Fifty Shades of Grey', which grossed $81.7 Million during its opening weekend.  Not every movie can be, nor, given the target audience of the "Divergent" series, should it.  Speaking of the target audience, I'm surprised there aren't more young men watching.  The first installment had a lot of action and strong male characters, so I expect this installment did as well.  It's the kind of movie that, if i were in high school or college, I would gladly see on a date and enjoyed watching at home with my wife.  More on that later.

So, what's being blamed for the lack of increased receipts?  "Hunger Games."
Perhaps the biggest obstacle Lionsgate faced with “Insurgent” was not “Cinderella” or the fickle tastes of teen moviegoers, but its own past history of success with “The Hunger Games.”

“This is a victim of unfair comparisons to ‘Hunger Games,'” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at “No movie deserves that. It’s too big of a hurdle to overcome. ‘Divergent’ is not ‘The Hunger Games,’ but that doesn’t mean it’s not successful.”
That same comparison appeared in Vox's preview of the movie, Everything you need to know about the Divergent series.
Divergent was released so soon (2010) after Suzanne Collins' immensely popular Hunger Games series (2008) that it's almost impossible not to compare the two series. Both series aimed to corner the young-adult market that had made Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series such a success.

The fact that Divergent and The Hunger Games both are set in futuristic dystopias only drives further comparisons. Yet the similarities extend beyond setting and genre, too. Both series feature stubborn, female teenage protagonists living in divided societies scarred by long civil wars.

Still,it's unfair to classify Divergent as a knock-off of The Hunger Games. Roth finished writing the books right around the time the first Hunger Games novel was released. She was simply fortunate enough to ride a wave Hunger Games helped build.

The real blame for the protagonists' similarities likely lies with Twilight. That series' weak, malleable protagonist, Bella, caused young-adult fiction readers to call out for a stronger, less vapid protagonist, who had goals beyond falling in love. Collins and Roth both responded to that challenge in ways readers enjoyed.
Allegiant outsold the final book in the Hunger Games series Mockingjay, according to Inquisitr. As a book series, sales for Divergent and The Hunger Games are neck-and-neck, but as a movie, well the Divergent series hasn't been that great. Both reviews and box office pale in comparison to that of The Hunger Games movie series.
While Divergent sells well and has all of the makings of being a massive global hit, it has spent most of it's time stuck in the shadow of the immensely popular Hunger Games series. The two are simply too similar for Divergent to have been a huge stand-out hit, and the comparisons might have kept readers outside of the young adult age group from giving it a shot.
That's too bad.  While I enjoyed both series, I prefer to watch my movies with my wife.  "The Hunger Games" upsets her, as it's too much about turning human cruelty into entertainment, which is true both within the story and on the meta level.  She doesn't have that objection to the "Divergent" books and movies; they are about power and control opposing freedom, but there is no cruelty for its own sake, although the social order is very brutal.  I quite agree with her on that count.

In addition, the lack of ideological coherence to the "Hunger Games" mentioned in the New Yorker article I quoted in Divergent and other teen dystopias does not appear to be an issue in "Divergent."  The clan system makes much more internal sense.

Finally, the series takes place in Chicago.  Since my wife is from there, it helped her enjoy the movie more.

The Vox article also speculates on what young adult trends might replace dystopias.
Two potential crazes are just now emerging in young adult fiction. There are a slew of John Green-esque books about quirky characters living in emotionally tumultuous lives. A Fault in Our Stars was such a beloved, high-selling, and gripping novel that it's no surprise that imitators are starting to pop up. The trend even has a name — "sick lit" — and it's populated by books like Cynthia Hand's The Last Time We Say Goodbye, Gayle Forman's I Was Here, and Michelle Falkoff's Playlist for the Dead.

Books like Lee Bross's Tangled Webs, Joe Schreiber's Con Academy, and Paula Stokes Liars, Inc., are part of the other trend poking up on the horizon, it seems like the next big young adult fiction may may come from an unexpected source: crime novels. Sure. Bring on the bold teenage cops, forced to choose between two incredibly mysterious and sexy robbers.
I'll pass on the "sick lit."  I can get enough of that in works aimed for an older audience.  I've also had my own brushes with illness; I don't need more from people less than half my age.  On the other hand, I always enjoy a good crime novel.  Anyone up for a 21st Century version of "Nancy Drew?"

No comments:

Post a Comment