Why couldn’t “Allegiant” hit the box-office heights that the first two movies in “The Divergent Series” did?
The third of four teen sci-fi films in Lionsgate’s “The Divergent Series,” “Allegiant” managed just a
$29 million opening weekend, well under the debuts of 2014’s “Divergent” ($54.6 million) and “Insurgent” ($52.2 million last year).
“Zootopia,” the Disney Animation blockbuster that over-performed in winning its its third straight weekend with $38 million, was one big reason. But the futuristic young adult tale from Lionsgate was facing some problems all its own this weekend. Specifically:
The idea that the future is going to be messed up and courageous youths provide the only hope was being pounded into moviegoers by Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games” and Fox’s “Maze Runner” franchises. Is it any surprise that “Allegiant,” yet another tale of a dystopian world of tomorrow, had some fans saying “Enough already!”
The “Divergent” series, which stars Shailene Woodley, felt derivative from the outset. Given the similar futuristic setting, evil totalitarian-rulers plot and female heroine as “The Hunger Games,” the films based on Veronica Roth‘s book were bound to drop off. And after four four movies with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and two with Woodley as Tris Pryor, even hardcore fans’ fascination with fearless femmes had to fade.
Reviewers didn’t just find “Allegiant” disappointing compared to the first two films, they buried it. Its Rotten Tomatoes score of 10 percent positive was way under that of “Divergent” (40 percent) and “Insurgent” (29 percent).
The same was true on Metacritic – the original and first sequel were at 48 and 42, this one was 34.
‘Hunger Games’ Light
While generally sharp, the cast of the “Divergent” movies doesn’t carry the cachet of “The Hunger Games” players. Woodley was good, but not J-Law, and Ansel Elgort and Theo James didn’t bring the firepower that Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth did. Ditto for newcomers Jeff Daniels and Octavia Spencer, who weren’t nearly as appealing side players to fans as Panem players Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci or Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
The Faux Finale Syndrome
When you split a finale into two parts, as “The Hunger Games,” the “Twilight” series and even “Harry Potter” did, you do make extra money, particularly if the films take off overseas. But it’s a real challenge for marketers to build momentum for the penultimate release when what you’re really offering fans is their second-to-last chance to bid their faves farewell. The finale “Ascendant” arrives next June.