The No. 1: ‘Divergent’ separates from the pack; our full coverage

The new dystopian thriller “Divergent” defied the recent trend of young-adult book adaptations faltering on the big screen, topping the weekend box office with an estimated $56-million opening.

While that falls short of the first “Twilight” ($69.6 million) and “Hunger Games” ($152.5 million), it’s still a solid number that outpaces such YA misses as “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” ($9.34 million), “Beautiful Creatures” ($7.6 million), “Vampire Academy” ($7.8 million) and “Ender’s Game” ($27 million).

Richard Fay, president of domestic distribution at Lionsgate, which released “Divergent,” told The Times, “This is a great start to another franchise.” He added, “We’ve got a lot of runway ahead of us.”

Based on the bestselling Veronica Roth novel of the same name and directed by Neil Burger, “Divergent” stars Shailene Woodley as a young woman who poses a threat to her dystopian society because she doesn’t conform to any of its five rigid factions, which are based on personality types. To get further up to speed on the background of “Divergent,” read our story on five things to know about the movie.


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And if you’re wondering what film critics thought of the movie, the Times’ Kenneth Turan called “Divergent” “an acceptable, play-it-safe version” of Roth’s book, one that benefits from Woodley and co-star Theo James making “romantic music together.”

Like Turan, most other critics found the movie to be a somewhat familiar, formulaic take on the YA-dystopia genre.

Woodley, though, has earned generally good notices for her performance as Beatrice “Tris” Prior, a role that could launch the actress to a new tier of stardom. The 22-year-old got her start on the ABC Family series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and garnered critical acclaim for her performances in “The Descendants” and “The Spectacular Now,” with her much-anticipated drama “The Fault In Our Stars” set for release in June.


Her rapid rise to action-franchise heroine has already earned her comparisons to “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence. For more on Woodley, see her profile in Hero Complex and our look at some of her most memorable quotes: Part 1 and Part 2.

To read more about “Divergent” director Neil Hamburger, who previously helmed “The Illusionist” and “Limitless,” see this Hero Complex Q&A.

“Divergent” fans might also want to mark their calendars for the film’s two sequels, “Insurgent” and “Allegiant,” slated for release in March 2015 and 2016.



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