Why 'Divergent' Will Never Be As Big As 'The Hunger Games'

Divergent” opened to a strong $56 million this weekend at theatres.

While it’s the first young adult (YA) adaptation to the big screen to not totally bomb since “The Hunger Games,” the movie will never gain the same status as Jennifer Lawrence’s girl on fire.

Sure, the film will be a healthy franchise for Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment over the next few years, but don’t count on it being the cash cow that previous YA series have been for the studios.

There are a few simple reasons “Divergent” will stay in the shadows of “The Hunger Games.”

The Star Power

Shaielene woodley divergent hunger games

Lionsgate / Summit Entertainment, Kirsten Acuna/Business Insider

Simply put, Shailene Woodley is no Jennifer Lawrence.

When Jennifer Lawrence signed on to “The Hunger Games” franchise she recently came off a role in “X-Men: First Class” and was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for 2010’s “Winter’s Bone.”

Since the film’s 2012 release she won an Oscar for her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Shailene Woodley is known among teens for her role on ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and her role in “The Descendants” alongside George Clooney.

Overall, “The Hunger Games” has a more recognisable cast than “Divergent.”

“The Hunger Games”
Jennifer Lawrence

Stanley Tucci

Elizabeth Banks

Liam Hemsworth

Woody Harrelson

Donald Sutherland

“Divergent”

Shailene Woodley

Kate Winslet

Ashley Judd

Maggie Q

“The Hunger Games” was a huge anomaly.

When the “Divergent” movie was first announced everyone — us included — automatically referred to the series as the next “Hunger Games.”

It was easy. Both series are about a dystopian future led by strong female leads. Any YA movie adaptation that follows Suzanne Collin’s series obviously has some huge shoes to fill; however, it’s unlikely we’ll ever have another “Hunger Games” anytime soon.

“The Hunger Games” had a larger debut than the first “Harry Potter” film — and that’s when inflation is accounted for as well.

Compared to other young adult movies, “The Hunger Games” has the seventh-largest opening weekend at theatres behind four superhero films (“The Avengers,” “Iron Man 3,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” and “The Dark Knight”) and the final “Harry Potter” film.

3 films vs. 4 or 5

Four tris divergent

Jaap Buitendijk/Summit Entertainment

Unlike both “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent” is expected to be a three-film series. Lionsgate greenlit a sequel for next March, “Insurgent,” and have another film planned for the series’ third book set for 2016.

The two former franchises split their final novels across two movies giving “The Hunger Games” four movies and “Twilight” five.

In total, the “Twilight” franchise has generated more than $US3.3 billion worldwide. So far, the two “Hunger Games” films have taken in about $US1.6 billion at theatres.

If the studios really want to milk the “Divergent” franchise, they will pull a “Hobbit” and break the final book into two movies to keep it around longer.

The “Divergent” series may have shot itself in the foot.

People like happy endings and the “Divergent” series doesn’t have one.

HUGE *spoiler* The lead character gets killed off as a martyr in the final novel.

How do you think people would have responded if Harry Potter was killed by Voldemort in the final book (and on screen) or if Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen bit the bullet? My guess is not positively. *spoiler*

The final book in the series, “Allegiant,” received a lot of fan backlash after its release in October 2013.

So many fans responded negatively that author Veronica Roth took to her blog to address the controversial ending.

“I’ve said before that this ending was always a part of the plan, but one thing I want to make clear is that I didn’t choose it to shock anyone, or to upset anyone,” wrote Roth.

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer previously told analysts he didn’t think the book’s outcome would hurt the series’ chances at the box office. “A little controversy in terms of publicity never hurts,” said Feltheimer.

While “Divergent” and “Insurgent” may do well, the final third film could be a test for Lionsgate with fans.

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