Welcome to the YA Movie Countdown, our resident expert’s biweekly guide to young-adult book-to-film adaptations.
Will Divergent be the next Hunger Games? Are you sick of that question yet? Now that we’re only about three weeks away from the film’s release, we’re close enough that we can answer that question and be done with it.
AT THE BOX OFFICE
Obviously we won’t have an official opening weekend estimate until Sunday, March 23, but at this point predictions should be fairly accurate. Back in January I suggested the film could open with about $45 million. Well, I’m upping that. All of the original factors are still in play – a popular property, big-name stars, some moderate box office competition – but now I’m inclined to believe that repeat viewings and positive word of mouth could have an impact as well, possibly boosting Divergent’s opening total to a number that falls in the $50 to $60 million range.
Just about a week ago, The Wrap reported that the film is on its way to a $50 million-plus start. The outlet also noted that figure is only an early tracking number. In the days leading up to the release, it’s likely that it will build. Clearly that’s nothing compared to The Hunger Games’ $152.5 million debut, but it’s still a solid total and all Divergent will need to earn its sequel. Divergent cost about $85 million to make and the Wrap predicted it will run a $40 million marketing tab, but between the possible $50 million debut and the $65 million it already made in foreign presales, it’ll be in pretty good shape.
Similar to The Hunger Games, Divergent has a nice, neat little high concept: the story takes place in a world where society is divided into five factions – Candor for those who value honesty, Dauntless for bravery, Amity for peacefulness, Erudite for intelligence and Abnegation for selflessness. That core concept is both easy to grasp and inherently interesting because it’s in such stark contrast to the way we live our lives, yet we all have certain qualities we cherish more than others, permitting us relate to a degree.
Where the structure of the high concepts behind Divergent and The Hunger Games start to diverge (no pun intended) is when Divergent moves beyond the Choosing Ceremony. In The Hunger Games it is and always is about this astonishing event during which young preteens and teens are expected to fight each other to the death. There is some talk about the horrible nature of the Games and a potential rebellion, but for the most part the focus is on Katniss and her fight for survival within the event.
In Divergent’s case, however, that chief core concept is not a distinct occasion. Once we move beyond the Aptitude Test and the Choosing Ceremony, it’s much more about how the citizens behave within such a society. And even though people in this world are expected to adhere to their faction’s chief value, they’re still people living lives with family, friends, jobs and a wide array of challenges and emotions. That makes the material more of a challenge to digest and, in a sense, less addictive.
This doesn’t mean the story of Divergent is less successful than the one in The Hunger Games, but rather it just reflects the accessibility of the material. Hunger Games has the more clear-cut logline and something like that does make a film very easy to carry with you.
SO WILL DIVERGENT BECOME THE NEXT HUNGER GAMES?
While Divergent won’t manage to match the box office or hype of The Hunger Games, it will earn the title of “the next Hunger Games” as the only young-adult book-to-film adaptation to actually go on to earn itself a franchise since Hunger Games’ release.
ALL THE LATEST DIVERGENT NEWS
If you’re already obsessed with anything and everything Divergent, you’re in luck because now that we’re so close to the film’s big debut, there’s an abundance of new TV spots, interviews and news bits coming our way each and every day. Here’s a rundown of some of the latest:
The threat of living factionless
You know that this dystopian Chicago has the five factions, but what if you don’t fit in or earn your way into a single one? That’s what Jai Courtney’s Eric explains in this brand new clip from the film. Eric is a Dauntless leader, and a pretty ruthless one at that, and this snippet of footage will give you a sense of how far he’s willing to go to motivate his new class of initiates and how his new rule effects some of our main characters – Zoe Kravitz’ Christina, Christian Madsen’s Al, and Ben Lloyd-Hughes’ Will.
Author Veronica Roth has seen the movie and she loves it
It’s undoubtedly a thrill to have your book optioned and turned into a major motion picture, but the material is still your baby and it’s got to be nerve-racking handing it over to a brand new artist and letting him put his own spin on it. Well, it turns out that Veronica Roth is thrilled she took the plunge with Divergent because she recently flew out to L.A. to see the movie and loved it. She explained, “I was completely absorbed by it. Even though I am so familiar with this story, I clearly remember grabbing the arms of my chair when Tris runs to catch the train after the Choosing Ceremony because I was nervous that she wouldn’t make it.” Roth also added, “I feel like I should say that Shailene Woodley as Tris and Theo James as Four are everything I hoped for (or maybe more than I dared to hope for).” Click here to check out her full blog post on her screening experience.
It’s time to meet Four
It looks as though we might get a string of character featurettes prior to the release because one just arrived and it focuses on Theo James’ Four, the film’s leading man. Not only is it a thrill to hear more about the film version of a favorite character from the book, but this is also a particularly well-done featurette. It shows off an extensive amount of behind-the-scenes material along with a number of cast and crew interviews that come together to give you a relatively well-rounded sense of who James is as a performer and what he’s looking to achieve through Four.
Tickets are on sale now!
Divergent doesn’t arrive until March 21, but as of yesterday you can buy tickets. If you’re first becoming aware of the presale now, sadly you missed out on the opportunity to get a free Amazon download code for the eBook with your purchase, but you’ve still got a chance to enter a special Divergent sweepstakes. If you buy tickets on Fandango on or before Sunday, March 31, you’re automatically entered to win a walk-on role in the sequel Insurgent.
Is that enough incentive for you? Grab yourself some tickets and keep an eye on Movies.com because we’ll have loads of Divergent coverage coming your way right through the film’s release.
The YA Movie Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday.
MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB: