Box Office: ‘Insurgent’ Tops With $54 Million, ‘Gunman’ Flops

Insurgent box office
Image courtesy of Lionsgate

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 bestselling books about a dystopian future and a group of rebels out to change the world. 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 last summer’s “The Fault in Our Stars.” Going into the weekend, Lionsgate had been projecting an opening of between $57 million and $60 million.

“Insurgent’s” audience was 60% female and 55% under 25. Hispanics made up 17% of the opening weekend crowd, and African-Americans comprised 11% of ticket buyers. Premium large formats made up $4.4 million of the film’s domestic box office, while Imax accounted for $3.6 million of the grosses.

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 $20 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 anticipated, 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.

The weekend’s other major wide release, “The Gunman,” fired blanks, picking up a meager $5 million and seemingly deep-sixing Sean Penn’s plans to be an aging action star. Open Road distributed the film in 2,816 theaters and had expected a debut of about $8 million. “The Gunman’s” modest results were good enough for a fourth place finish in an otherwise slow weekend.

“Obviously we had hoped for a little bit more,” said Jason Cassidy, chief marketing officer at Open Road Films. “It’s a tough market out there, and there are a lot of male-oriented action films, so it’s tough to penetrate.”

“The Gunman’s” roughly $40 million production budget was fully funded by StudioCanal. Critics torched the picture, handing it a 14% “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Gunman” has good company. Over the past two weeks, testosterone-fueled entertainments like “Run All Night” and “Chappie” have collapsed at the box office, while “Cinderella” and “Insurgent” have soared.

“It’s an interesting dichotomy,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “Women are driving the box office right now.”

Pure Flix’s “Do You Believe?” also debuted over the weekend, operating from the same playbook as “God’s Not Dead,” the low-budget, faith-based film that stunned box office analysts with a massive debut last spring. “Do You Believe?” couldn’t hit the same figures, earning $4 million across 1,320 theaters.

“We’d have liked it to open a little bit stronger, but we think that word of mouth is going to start to kick in,” said Michael Scott, co-founder of Pure Flix.

“Do You Believe?” will expand by roughly 100 theaters next weekend, Pure Flix said. The company is working with church groups, as it did on “God’s Not Dead,” in order to drive attendance.

“Leading up to the Easter holiday and being about the message of the cross, we’re going to see a little kick in the coming weeks as we head towards Palm Sunday,” said Scott.

Last weekend’s champ “Cinderella” showed impressive endurance despite the challenge from “Insurgent,” capturing second place on the charts with roughly $34.5 million. That was a 49% dip from its premiere and brings the Disney film’s domestic total to $122 million.

The presence of “Cinderella” may have shaved a little bit off of “Insurgent’s” results. When the first “Divergent” debuted in theaters in 2014, there were no other major films pitched at females in the marketplace, with its competition coming from family titles like “Muppets Most Wanted” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.”

In third place, “Run All Night” fell 54% to $5.1 million. The Warner Bros. action thriller has generated $19.7 million after two weeks in theaters. “Kingsman: The Secret Service” continued to be the year’s quietest blockbuster, adding $4.6 million to its pot and nabbing fifth place on the chart. The Fox spy adventure has made $114.6 million since opening in February.

Horror film “It Follows” capitalized on strong reviews to earn $352,248, bringing its total to $576,275. Radius-TWC shook up the film’s release pattern recently. It expanded from just four theaters last weekend to 32 screens and will roll out to over 1,000 next weekend. Because of the strong response, the studio is postponing the picture’s VOD release.

Among arthouse releases, Bleecker Street’s “Danny Collins” bowed to $73,157 in five theaters for a per-screen average of $14,631. The film stars Al Pacino as an aging rock star. It will add eight markets next weekend, including Boston, San Francisco and Phoenix, and will play in roughly 20 theaters.

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.”

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  1. Coach L. says:

    “We the People,” will not support actors that talk trash about our country…and hang-out with Terrorist Dictators! Sean Penn & Liam Neeson, have worn-out their welcome.

    But, go ahead and throw your money away, hiring them to be in your films.

  2. “It’s an interesting dichotomy,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “Women are driving the box office right now.”

    The problem once again is production balance, but it’s tilting the other way now. It is gratifying that female audiences are being catered for as a box office driving force, but hopefully recent misfires will nullify the idea that a male audience will turn out for any old action-oriented dross. When compared to the production (and marketing) effort/quality of both Cinderella and Insurgent the recent male-skewing films like The Gunman and Run All Night are exposed as the tired, run-of-the-mill fare that they are.

    (I wouldn’t, as the author suggested, put Chappie in the male targeted, action movie basket. That didn’t appear to be Neill Blomkamp’s intention. Its flawed execution probably did for it with all audiences.)

  3. Bill B. says:

    I’ll be glad when we move further into the year and some really interesting & good films open. Glad I still have a couple of late 2014 releases still to catch up with as there has not been a good film that I can think of that has been released in this country so far this year, but that’s pretty typical for late winter/early spring..

  4. Richard says:

    So good to see Penn fall on his smug face. Live by hge gun die by the gun.

  5. Jodi says:

    No Patriotic American will ever support Sean Penn again. Go ahead and waste your money.

  6. Derek says:

    The Gunman is the perfect example of a terrible team effort by Open Road.

    Production: how do you allow this garbage to make final cut? Like marketing, you can cheat/edit a story easily with an actioner. You could easily see what was a reshoot at the end. Terrible, terrible. Audience I was with laughed during the bull scene.

    Publicity: even the worst personalities can be spun into good, likable people. There was zero effort especially after Sean’s Oscars quote.

    Marketing: creative was GOD AWFUL! Kid Rock for TV spots lol and that one sheet was atrocious.

    Distribution: dated a week after another R-rated old dude action genre flick AND the first weekend of March Madness? Are you insane?

    Accounting: “good luck”

  7. harry georgatos says:

    Sean Penn is box office poison!

    • Yup, Sean (the woman beating, communist dictator loving, bundle of narcissistic rage) Penn ruined any chance of this film being successful. When you have ticked off over 50% of the population with your antics/speeches it is hard to get them to support any film you might star in, direct, or even promote.

      • harry georgatos says:

        A depressive personality. Takes himself way too seriously without a sense of humour. It shows in all his movies.

  8. I don’t know why they keep avoiding the biggest issue with this series. It’s that bugaboo the third book, and the decision to split that travesty into two seems more and more like a pointless hastily made decision, made before the book was published. Many felt they had been had, by the convoluted narrative and ridiculous finale which pretty much made it obvious Roth wasn’t ready for prime time. It’s not like they weren’t warned though. The cracks and contrivances in the story line began to show up in abundance with Insurgent.

    A more interesting statistic would be those millions who read the series are staying away after having read the third book.

    Oh and this:

    “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.”

    Yes, it is fair. Especially when your film is a pretty big rip off of that better written, better acted, more involving series, who fully encompasses the themes on which it was founded.

  9. Al Sharpen Sr says:

    I like the diversity breakdown for Insurgent. But if youre going to do that it should be applied to all films in the top ten. Or maybe just the new releases. That will better inform your readers.

  10. Caleb Prior says:

    “That’s a disappointment for Lionsgate” – REALLY? Disappointment would have been the low $40’s Variety was spewing on Friday afternoon.

    • Gemma says:

      Sorry but it’s a disappointment. That numbers show that Insurgent sold less tickets than Divergent (3D) and thus has lost audience. No good sign for this Franchise. If it hadn’t 3D that numbers were worst

  11. Mike says:

    Clearly Variety doesn’t like Insurgent. First this mistakenly reported the film would come around 45 million for the weekend and have been shooting down any praise for it. Mind you the industry knows that had Cinderella not been playing as strong as it is, Insurgent would have easily hit 60+ million on opening weekend.

    Stick to Deadline Box Office for accurate results.

  12. Bill says:

    The take for “Do You Believe” is actually quite good, given at least local data indicates it’s playing on fewer screens than “God’s Not Dead”; it will be interesting once per-screen numbers are released.

    • jake says:

      Actually, the take is quite bad in comparison to Gods Not Dead. Gods not Dead opened to 9 mil in 780 theaters compared to DYB’s 4 mil in 1320 theaters. That’s about 11k per theater compared to 3k per theater. DYB grossed 55% less than God’s Not Dead opening weekend but it played in almost 70% more theaters. Not a good result by any measure.

      • tall pirate says:

        Actually even with the tepid reviews it has incredible word of mouth better than God’s Not Dead which 11k per theatre on an independent film is tough to match still has the 3rd high numbers this weekend per theatre count. So there’s that ace.

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