The YA genre continues to mystify studios; all of them except for Lionsgate, that is. With “The Hunger Games” winding down this fall, luckily the studio has “The Divergent Series” ramping up, as the sequel “Insurgent” arrives this weekend with fairly lofty expectations.
Thing is, teens can be an ADD-prone bunch, and with that in mind, YA adaptations waste no time putting the pedal to the metal, attempting to continually populate the pop culture landscape with a new film every year. Often times that works, by keeping intense media focus on the product at hand, but it also doesn’t do much in the way of adding new fans.
Outside of the first “Twilight,” studios with top grossing YA adaptations haven’t had much success growing their fan bases with subsequent sequels, which is why “Insurgent” is probably looking at similar grosses as “Divergent,” which debuted with a sizable $54M on its way to $288M worldwide.
Domestic totals topped out at $150M, which is about where “Insurgent” will land, so any real growth will likely come from international markets. Fox’s “The Maze Runner” tracked down $238M overseas this fall, and that same audience will likely flock to “Insurgent,” as there isn’t much out there right now for teen crowds.
“Divergent” cost $85M, the sequel upped the ante a bit with $110M which should be money well spent. And yes, for those keeping score, the threequel, “Allegiant,” will be broken up into two parts as is the traditional custom of all things YA. In almost 3,800 theaters, expect “Insurgent” to quell the critics and still manage around $50M.
Also in wide release this weekend is Open Road Films’ “The Gunman.” Sean Penn stars as the title character in Pierre Morel’s (“Taken,” “From Paris With Love”) R-rated action drama which is hoping to lock in on some of that “American Sniper” momentum which is now over $500M+ worldwide.
Unfortunately, the film isn’t getting the kind of reviews it needs to pull in those kind of numbers, and let’s face it, Sean Penn is great and all, but he’s no Bradley Cooper. Never has been. Targeting 2,800+ theaters, if it hits $10M+ it will be lucky.
For Open Road Films, the distribution company formed by AMC and Regal, two of the biggest theatrical distributors, things have been far from streets of gold, as the company has yet to offer up a $100M hit in over twenty attempts. The good news is films like “Chef” and “Nightcrawler” are making waves with small budgets, and that strategy looks to continue as they broaden their indie credentials picking up Sundance fave, “Dope,” set for release this summer.
The other film in wide release this weekend is the faith-based “Do You Believe?” starring Sean Astin. After the string of hits last year, including the indie “God’s Not Dead,” which opened with $9.2M in March last year and went on to gross $60M, God-centric films have had a major resurgence.
The director of “God’s Not Dead,” Harold Cronk, is a producer on this one, so expect a lot of grass roots audiences, which often equates to heavenly returns with this demographic.
- Insurgent – $51M
- Cinderella – $39M
- Do You Believe? $11M
- The Gunman – $9M
- Run All Night – $6M
CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Sony’s “Pixels” (July 24, 2015)
Hey, you got Pac-Man fever? Me too. Sure, Chris Columbus’ “Pixels” could easily be the bomb of the summer, but it also looks like Adam Sandler is actually trying again (I mean, there’s not even a scene where he’s in sweatpants?!?) and Kevin James is a family favorite. Not sure who the audience is outside teens and fanboys, but it’s on like Donkey Kong for me. I’m a sucker for video game hijinx. Whompa. Whompa.
PRIME CUT OF THE WEEK: Fox’s “Paper Towns” (July 24, 2015)
Author John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” was a runaway hit last summer, and not coincidentally, the adaptation was based on his most famous book. While the follow-up, “Paper Towns,” doesn’t have the buzz of “Fault,” the characters have a sweetness and honesty that may just connect with moviegoers once again.
Surely, it won’t snag as many adults, which helped propel grosses to over $300M worldwide, however one could argue that Green’s films are the closest thing we have to John Hughes movies these days. I like where this guy’s head is. And his films are currently ushering in a new wave of bright young stars. Kudos Fox for riding this teen wave. Keep ’em coming. Now will someone please make a Judy Blume adaptation worth watching?!?
CHINCY CUT OF THE WEEK: “Zombeavers” (March 20, 2015)
The zombie genre is donzo. This pretty much seals the deal. That said, when imbibed with the right concoctions, this might possibly be the best film ever. Beaver fever is real, folks.
CLASSIC CHINCY CUT OF THE WEEK: “The Stuff”
I’ve actually seen this film…and didn’t eat ice cream for, like, a day afterwards. I think it’s time for a remake featuring fro yo! “Oh no, fro yo!” But seriously, I’ve never trusted those live and active cultures.
Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.