Insurgent tops North American box office with US$54 million, Cinderella shows legs

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Insurgent topped the weekend box office with US$54 million (S$75 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 best-selling books about a dystopian future. 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 The Fault in Our Stars.

Going into the weekend, Lionsgate had been projecting an opening of between US$57 million to US$60 million.

Insurgent's audience was 60 per cent female and 55 per cent under 25. Hispanics made up 17 per cent of the opening weekend crowd and African-American comprised 11 percent of ticket buyers.

The studio says its 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 US$110 million to produced, roughly US$25 million more than Divergent racked up in production fees. Divergent opened to US$54.6 million before going on to make US$288.7 million globally.

Internationally, Insurgent grossed an estimated US$47 million in 76 markets. Even if the film's domestic results are weaker than Lionsgate might have hoped, 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 meagre US$5 million and seemingly deep-sixing Sean Penn's plans to be an aging action star. Open Road distributed the film in 2,816 theatres and had expected a debut in the US$8 million range.

The Gunman's modest results were good enough for a fourth place finish in an otherwise slow weekend.

Pure Fix's Do You Believe? also debuted last 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 US$4 million across 1,320 theatres.

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

The presence of Cinderella may have shaved a little bit off of Insurgent's results. When the first Divergent debuted in theatres in 2014, there were no 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, Liam Neeson's Run All Night fell 54 per cent to US$5.1 million. The Warner Bros. action thriller has generated US$19.7 million after two weeks in theatres.

Kingsman: The Secret Service continued to be the year's quietest blockbuster, adding US$4.6 million to its pot and nabbing fifth place on the chart. The Fox spy adventure has made US$114.6 million since opening in February.

Horror film It Follows capitalised on strong reviews to earn US$352,248, bringing its total to US$576,275. Radius-TWC shook up the film's release pattern. It expanded from just four theatres 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 art house releases, Bleecker Street's Danny Collins bowed to US$73,157 in five theatres for a per-screen average of $14,631. The film stars Al Pacino as an aging rock star.