Woodley is proving a match for her young action-adventure rival Jennifer Lawrence, who stars in the “Hunger Games” series.
Disney’s “Cinderella,” which probably attracted a pre-teen crowd too young for “Insurgent’s” violence, scored well its second week out with a $34.5 million domestic gross. The film has earned $110 million domestically since it opened.
But “Insurgent” clearly took a bite out of other weekend releases. Sean Penn’s “The Gunman” flopped into fourth place with a $5 million gross, falling short even of “Open Road’s” modest projection for an $8 million weekend. That’s art house territory.
The two-time Oscar winner plays an assassin who carries out a contract in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has to deal with the backlash eight years later.
“Insurgent” clearly siphoned off its audience. Penn, 54, hasn’t held down a starring role since 2013’s “Gangster Squad,” and his demographic doesn’t make up a large slice of the movie-going public.
Plus, the movie was trashed by critics. It received a lowly 14 percent rating on rottentomatoes and a 39 score on metacritic.
Penn’s film was bracketed by two other action thrillers, “Run All Night,” which finished third in its sophomore week out with $5.1 million and 20th Century Fox’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” which finished fifth with a $4.6 million domestic gross.
Meanwhile, “Insurgent” made a strong showing despite headwinds from critics. It scored a rotten 38 percent rating on rottentomatoes and a weak 42 score on metacritic.
The film, which also stars Ansel Elgort, Kate Winslet and Theo James, seemed to suffer from a weak plot.
“There’s little substance and little depth, but Woodley, with her preternatural poise, offers a worthy simulation of drama,” wrote Richard Brody in The New Yorker.
And that was one of the tepid reviews.
“There is such a thing as an infinitely bad movie, and this is it,” wrote the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Williams in a scorching broadside.
Ultimately, the problem may be the way studios like Lionsgate. After it’s success with “Twilight” it’s determined to string out young teen novels into multiple movies to exploit their popularity to the max, come hell or high water.
It may not be good movie making, but it’s box office gold.
Brace yourself; even though the book series was a trilogy, two more “Divergent” movies are in the pipeline.
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