By Lindsey Bahr
LOS ANGELES — Sean Penn’s “The Gunman” was no match for the rebel kids of “Insurgent.”
The second installment in the “Divergent” series easily topped the box office with $54 million from 3,875 theaters, according Rentrak estimates Sunday. Penn’s geopolitical thriller stumbled with only $5 million.
While the second films in both the “Hunger Games” and the “Twilight” series boasted opening weekend gains over the first, “Insurgent’s” opening nearly matches that of its predecessor, “Divergent,” which debuted to $54.6 million just last year.
Many predicted a bit of growth for this second film, which sees the return of stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Kate Winslet to author Veronica Roth’s dystopian world. But, both distributor Lionsgate and box office analysts see the consistency as a good thing.
“We’re extremely pleased with the outcome,” said Lionsgate’s President of Domestic Distribution Richie Fay.
“I think this is exactly where we thought we’d be,” he added. “We attracted a few more males this time around, and I think we’re headed in the right direction. The uptick from Friday to Saturday was considerably higher than it was for ‘Divergent.’ That, the A- CinemaScore and what’s coming into the marketplace will allow us to grow very nicely.”
According to Lionsgate, 60 percent of audiences were female.
Rentrak’s Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian credits Lionsgate’s consistent release date strategy and impressive marketing campaign for the strong repeat performance.
“It’s really about driving a very fickle audience, that teen, YA — whatever you want to call them — they’re really tough to get a handle on. Their tastes change like the wind,” he said. “The key is keeping the young adult audience engaged, excited and enthusiastic.”
“Insurgent” also performed well overseas, taking in $47 million from 76 markets, bringing its worldwide total to $101 million.
Disney’s live-action “Cinderella,” meanwhile, fell 49 percent in Week 2 to take second place with $34.5 million. The PG-rated film has earned an impressive $122 million domestically to date.
Also in its second weekend in theaters, the R-rated Liam Neeson-led action film “Run All Night,” managed a slight edge over Open Road’s “The Gunman.” Neeson’s film, a Warner Bros. release, dropped 54 percent with its $5.1 million weekend, while Penn’s film debuted in fourth place with only $5 million.
“You have a lot of R-rated competition out there right now,” noted Dergarabedian, who also added that Penn’s foray into the action genre has not garnered the best reviews.
“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” one of the better performing R-rated releases in recent weeks, rounded out the top five with $4.6 million in its sixth weekend in theaters. The 20th Century Fox film has now earned over $114.6 million domestically.
“Over the past couple of weeks, films driven by the female audience have done much better than films driven by the male audience. But that’s all going to change because ‘Furious 7’ is on the way,” Dergarabedian said.
“Put on your seatbelt and get ready, because it’s going to be an incredible ride in the coming weeks,” he said.