Box Office: 'Allegiant' Debut Won't Match
Courtesy of Lionsgate

“The Divergent Series: Allegiant” will claim first place at the box office this weekend, but the post-apocalyptic franchise is beginning to lose steam as it eyes the finish line.

The third installment in the futuristic saga is looking to debut to roughly between $34 million and $40 million, a drop from the $54.6 million that the first “Divergent” pulled in when the series kicked off in 2014 and the $52.3 million launch of its 2015 follow-up, “Insurgent.” A final chapter, “Ascendant,” is due out in the summer of 2017.

That may be a respectable launch, but the tapering off in enthusiasm for the “Divergent” series is disappointing news for Lionsgate. The studio is still reeling from the failure of “Gods of Egypt,” the pricey sci-fi stinker it opened last month, and it has yet to find a way to fill the void left by “The Hunger Games,” after the series concluded its massive box office run last fall. Lionsgate is very much at a crossroads, looking at upcoming projects such as a “Power Rangers” reboot and a Francis Lawrence-directed adaptation of “The Odyssey” to restore its luster.

The studio did not provide a budget, but the most recent “Divergent” film cost $110 million to make, and this chapter is thought to carry a similar price tag. “Allegiant” will unspool on roughly 3,700 screens.

Zootopia,” the Disney animated smash, may surrender its perch atop the box office to “Allegiant,” but the family film will still pack in crowds. In its second weekend, the critically acclaimed story of an animal city dropped a measly 31.6% to $51.3 million. It should do roughly $30 million worth of business in its third weekend of release.

With those two films carving up the biggest pieces of the box office pie, Sony and Affirm’s “Miracles From Heaven” is opting for a mid-week launch. The story of a little girl whose chronic disease miraculously improves is pegged at faith-based crowds and features Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah. It should make $10 million over its first five days of release, and between $6 million and $8 million over opening weekend. “Miracles From Heaven” cost $13 million to make and will debut in 3,000 locations. Religious-themed movies can be tricky, but Affirm has deep ties to a number of prominent pastors and ministries, and has successfully fielded hits such as “Heaven is for Real” and “War Room.”

There had been concerns that after a record-breaking 2015, the box office would cool down. However, hits like “Deadpool” and “Zootopia” have lifted ticket sales year-over-year, with revenues up more than 10%. There’s another blockbuster hit on the horizon in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which is shaping up to have a $140 million-plus opening next week, setting a new record for a March debut.

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