Box Office: ‘Divergent’ Jump Starts Franchise With $56 Mil Opening, While ‘Muppets’ Stumbles With $16.5 Mil

With strong support from the youth and female factions, Lionsgate-Summit’s franchise kick-starter “Divergent” launched domestically to a solid estimated $56 million, while Disney’s wide release, “Muppets Most Wanted” came off more sluggish than expected, grossing a projected $16.5 million through Sunday.

Internationally, Paramount’s Biblical epic “Noah” set sail in just two markets ahead of its Stateside launch, amassing a stellar $14 million from just Mexico and South Korea. So far, the film’s early overseas bow is significantly ahead of the comparable openings of other such tentpoles as “Gravity” and “Skyfall,” though the controversial film has yet to prove itself domestically where it bows next weekend.

The weekend’s domestic box office, boosted by stellar Imax and premium large-format perfs for “Divergent,” kept totals ahead of this time last year, when “The Croods” earned $43 million in three days.

Fox-DreamWorks Animation’s “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” helped the B.O.  stay afloat, grossing $11.7 million in its third frame, for a domestic cume of $81 million. The toon’s stable perf likely drew away some family auds from “Muppets,” which saw the majority of its opening come from parents and kids. (Overwhelmingly, families represented the film’s largest demographic, at 71%.)

Meanwhile, “Divergent” skewed 59% female, with an even split among auds over and under 25. Surprisingly, though, only about half of the film’s opening audience said they had read the book vs. the first installments for “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games,” of which each film adaptation saw more than 70% it’s debut come from filmgoers who had read the book.

Lionsgate will begin production on the second installment “Insurgent” in May, with a planned March 20, 2015, release date.

In an aggressive limited debut at 780 engagements, Freestyle Releasing’s faith-based film “God’s Not Dead” grossed a stellar estimated $8.6 million, averaging $10,973 per screen. The distrib plans to expand the film further next weekend based on demand in smaller markets.

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