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‘Allegiant,’ ‘Zootopia’ Battle for Top Box Office Spot

Franchise fatigue may keep the opening of “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” out of first place at the box office with Disney’s “Zootopia” retaining the crown for a third weekend, early estimates showed Friday.

Both entries were heading for weekends in the $30 million to $35 million range, though most projections showed “Zootopia” with a slight edge over “Alliegiant.”

The opening day of Lionsgate’s “Allegiant,” which included $2.35 million in Thursday night previews, was forecast at $11.5 million to $12.5 million at 3,740 locations while “Zootopia” was taking in $8.5 million to $9.5 million at 3,959 sites.

Friday’s estimates back up recent forecasts that the third Divergent movie would fall short of the first two installments. If the final weekend number comes in at $32 million for “Allegiant,” it would represent a 40% decline from the $54.6 million that “Divergent” grossed two years ago when the series kicked off. “Insurugent” launched a year ago with a $52.3 million opening weekend.

“Divergent” wound up with $150.9 million in total domestic grosses and “Insurgent” took in $130.2 million.

“Allegiant” centers on a dystopian Chicago, where society is separated into five personality-related factions to ensure safety. Shailene Woodley and Theo James star as rebels against the system.

The fourth and final film, “Ascendant,” is due out in the summer of 2017. The films are based on Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy, with Lionsgate opting to split the final book into two movies — similar to its “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” franchises.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, noted that the “Divergent” movies have had to rely on a demographic that’s unpredictable. “‘Allegiant’ will have to bank on a very fickle YA audience that has been tougher and tougher to draw to the multiplex of late to add to the high-profile franchise’s bottom line,” he noted.

Lionsgate hasn’t disclosed a price tag for “Allegiant” while “Insurgent” cost about $110 million. The studio typically uses foreign pre-sales to reduce risk so its average exposure per film is about $13 million.

For its part, “Zootopia” has overperformed in its first two weekends with $75.1 million on its opening and a $51.3 million second weekend. The animated comedy should hit the $200 million mark in cumulative grosses by the end of Sunday.

Sony’s opening of faith-based drama “Miracles From Heaven” appeared to be turning in respectable numbers with $3.5 million to $4.5 million Friday for a weekend in the $11 million to $13 million range. Sony, which is releasing the film through its Affirm label, has seen respectable returns so far after opting for a mid-week release with $1.9 million on Wednesday at 3,047 locations and $1.66 million on Thursday.

Miracles From Heaven,” based on Christy Beam’s memoir of the same name, centers on a 10-year-old girl’s recovery from an incurable disease. Jennifer Garner stars as the mother.

Dergarabedian noted that the film is well-timed to coincide with the approach of Easter on March 27.

“Faith-based audiences have already supported the star-powered ‘Miracles From Heaven’ to the tune of around $3.5 million and will likely show up in relatively big numbers for the film in advance of Good Friday and Easter the following Sunday,” he added.

Paramount’s second weekend of “10 Cloverfield Lane” may challenge “Miracles” for third place. “Cloverfield” took in $32.7 million in its first week.

Fox’s sturdy “Deadpool” remains a player with about $2 million on Friday and as much as $8 million this weekend. The Ryan Reynolds vehicle has totaled an impressive $333 million in its first five weeks.

Sony Classics’ mid-size launch of the Melissa Rauch dark comedy “The Bronze” isn’t expected to generate much interest with an early estimate of $400,000 to $600,000 at 1,167 locations.

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