The animal kingdom showed plenty of box office bite as Disney’s “Zootopia” easily defeated Shailene Woodley’s “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” with a $38 million weekend at 3,959 North American locations.
It was the third straight victory for “Zootopia,” which declined only 26% and has taken in a surprisingly strong $201.8 million in 17 days. But that victory came at a cost for Lionsgate’s “Allegiant,” which tallied $29.1 million in a case of franchise fatigue — as its once-robust audience showed far less support for the opening weekend.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, credited Disney with savvy scheduling. “There’s a huge demand for family films like this and ‘Kung Fu Panda 3,'” he added.
“Zootopia” and “Allegiant” had been expected to duel for the top spot this weekend, but “Allegiant” managed barely half of the $54.6 million launch of “Divergent” in 2014 and the $52.3 million debut of “Insurgent” last year. It’s the best second-place opening of 2016 but below recent forecasts for the third chapter of the four-part dystopian franchise.
Liosngate has set the finale “Ascendant” to open in June, 2017. The Divergent films carry budgets of around $110 million with foreign pre-sales reducing the studio’s risk.
Dergarabedian said there were a multitude of possible factors for the diminished business for Allegiant: strong holdover performances by “Zootopia,” “10 Cloverfield Lane” and “Deadpool”; a decline in interest in dystopian stories after the conclusion of the Hunger Games franchise; the move to split the final book in the Veronica Roth trilogy into two movies; and the looming March 25 launch of Warner Bros.’ “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
“I don’t fault Lionsgate’s strategy,” he added. “The young adult audience is very unpredictable.”
A Lionsgate spokesperson said, “”We’re very proud of our franchise’s terrific cast. Nearly $30 million for the opening weekend is a solid start and we believe the film will gain traction in the weeks ahead.”
Rory Bruer, Sony’s distribution topper, pointed to the film’s A+ Cinemascore and a 47% jump in box office from Friday to Saturday as signs that “Miracles” will play well in coming weeks. “This really is a movie that people want to share with each other,” he added.
“Miracles,” which carries a modest $13 million budget, is based on Christy Beam’s memoir about the recovery of her 10-year-old daughter from an incurable disease. Sony has managed to perform well in the faith-based space with “Heaven is for Real” ($91 million domestic) and “War Room” ($67 million).
Paramount’s second weekend of “10 Cloverfield Lane” finished fourth with $12.5 million at 3,427 locations, down 49% from its opening, for a 10-day total of $45.7 million. Fox’s durable “Deadpool” followed in fifth with $8 million at 2,924 sites with a 27% decline to lift its 38-day total past $340 million.
Focus’ third weekend of “London Has Fallen” came in sixth with $6.9 million at 3,011 sites to go past $50 million in 17 days. Par’s third weekend of Tina Fey’s “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” finished seventh with $2.8 million at 2,079 for a disappointing $19.3 million total.
Two comedies in their second weekends followed in eighth and ninth with Lionsgate’s romantic comedy “The Perfect Match” taking in $1.9 million at 925, down 56%, and Sony’s “The Brothers Grimsby” with $1.4 million at 2,235, off 57%.
“The Revenant” is still generating decent business for Fox in the U.S. after three months in theaters. It finished the weekend in 10th place with a $1.2 million weekend at 985 locations, pushing the U.S. total to $181.2 million.
Sony Classics’ opening of gymnast comedy “The Bronze,” starring Melissa Rauch, flopped with $421,434 at 1,167 locations for a tepid $361 per screen.
Warner Bros. generated a solid $185,000 at five theaters from Jeff Nichols’ “Midnight Special.”
The weekend total hit $131 million, according to comScore, leaving the year-to-date total at $2.398 billion. That’s up 10.5% over the same point a year ago, thanks to strong performances by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Deadpool” and “Zootopia.”