In the merciless contest involving attractive young people—in which merciless contests involving attractive young people are pitted against each other, then forced to fight to the death by opportunistic adults—Divergent emerged as the Chosen One, besting all other Hunger Games pretenders to open at first place with $56 million. That’s not exactly the triumph achieved by The Hunger Games (or, for you no-longer-so-young adults, Twilight), but it was enough to leave most of its other young-adult contestants like The Host and Vampire Academy behind, their early deaths serving to make Divergent’s victory all the more emotionally resonant. It should also help justify those two Divergent sequels that are already scheduled for 2015 and 2016—though of course, our autocratic movie society needs little justification to continue putting teenage girls through deadly trials to amuse its citizens.
The weekend’s other story of misfits combining their unique talents to overcome adversity, Muppets Most Wanted, landed in second place with a total of $16.5 million. That’s significantly off from what The Muppets did in 2011, when the combination of a Thanksgiving opening and years of pent-up nostalgia was good for $29.5 million. You could also blame a glut of films targeting the family audience, its slightly less than rave reviews, or a cast that traded the feel-good duo of Jason Segel and Amy Adams for Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey. But clearly, its underperforming is a reflection of its Russian gulag storyline, at a time when most kids are too concerned with the situation in Ukraine to laugh about that right now.
Finally, it was a big weekend for another story about a constantly maligned group searching for a savior: the Christian drama God’s Not Dead, in which the question of God’s existence is solved, as so many Gnostics predicted, with the help of Hercules star Kevin Sorbo. The indie film—about a college student forced to argue God’s existence with his atheist professor, and, naturally, the call of theological debate attracts Dean Cain and the guys from Duck Dynasty—had a fifth-place, $8.6 million debut, making it one of the biggest-ever openings for faith-based films, even with its confusing lack of Kirk Cameron. Its success will also hopefully pave the way for sequels where God’s existence is debated in an escalating series of contests involving ’90s TV action stars.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.