“Ascendant,” the fourth and final film in the troubled “Divergent” franchise, will open against two of the biggest films of the summer of 2017.
Despite the box office struggles of “Allegiant,” Lionsgate, the studio behind the young adult series, still plans to debut the film on June 9, 2017, where it will face stiff competition from Paramount’s “World War Z 2” and Universal’s reboot of “The Mummy,” starring Tom Cruise.
The studio plans to go ahead with an early summer shoot for “Ascendant,” starring Shailene Woodley, despite a disappointing $29 million opening weekend at the U.S. box office for “Allegiant.” The third film opened more than 40% less than the launches for “Divergent” and “Insurgent,” the first two films. The first two took in nearly $300 million each in 2014 and 2015; “Allegiant” will probably finish with $200 million at best.
Jeff Bock, analyst at Exhibitor Relations, told Variety on Monday that he questioned the strategy of opening “Ascendant” in the summer against two major franchises. He also noted that the release date is also sandwiched between the debuts of “Bad Boys 3” and the launches of “Cars 3” and “Kingsman 2.”
“We now know it’s not a box office behemoth,” Bock said of the fourth film. “It’s not a summer release. The momentum is gone. In fact it’s at a grinding halt. You’ve got two huge franchises opening against and this one is dwindling. Unless they want another 40% drop, they have to change that date. They’ve got to start making good decisions, and one of those good decisions would be to move this.”
“Allegiant” and “Insurgent” each carried price tags of about $110 million. Lionsgate had no comment on an unsourced report Monday that it would cut the budget of “Ascendant,” which does not yet have a shooting script.
It’s possible that “Ascendant” may come in at a lower final budget, given the final part of the story in the Veronica Roth trilogy deals with emotional issues and may not require as many special effects as in the previous films.
Wall Street appeared mildly disappointed over the downbeat performance of “Allegiant” as shares of Lionsgate declined 1.6% on Monday, sliding 36 cents to $22.26.
Lionsgate has financed the franchise, as it does most of its films, through foreign pre-sales. Although selling off foreign markets limits the upside, preventing the studio from racking up overseas profits, it also mitigates the risk to an average of $13 million per film.
Robert Schwentke directed the second film, “Insurgent,” as well as “Allegiant” but opted not to direct “Ascendant,” leading to Lionsgate announcing on Feb. 29 that it was tapping “Age of Adaline” helmer Lee Toland Krieger as the new director.
Lionsgate decided late last year to move “Ascendant” out of March 2017, and use the spring break date instead to open its “Power Rangers” movie. Even the spring is getting crowded. “Power Rangers” will have to hold its own against the second weekend of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” live-action remake and Warner Bros.’ franchise hopeful, “Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur.”