The franchise is called "Divergent," but don't expect the latest installment to veer into uncharted territory at the box office. "The Divergent Series: Allegiant," which premieres Friday, is the third film of an underperforming franchise that continues to toil in the shadows of other young-adult giants.
"The Divergent Series: Allegiant," stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James as two young soldiers continuing their battle against an oppressive society that divides the population into five factions and hopes to eradicate those deemed "divergent," who do not fit in those boxes. The franchise, an adaptation of the popular young adult novel series of the same name by Veronica Roth, premiered in 2014.
The first "Divergent" hit theaters as a slew of young adult film adaptations were launched, including "The Maze Runner" and "Percy Jackson & The Olympians," which, while profitable, failed to live up to the success of their big-name predecessors, "The Hunger Games" and "Twilight." The first movie in the "Divergent" series grossed just under $151 million domestically, while its 2015 follow-up, "The Divergent Series: Insurgent," fell to just over 130 million, according to Box Office Mojo. With global revenue added in, the movies more than exceeded their budget costs to bring a profit to studio Lionsgate, and a fourth and final film is in the works. However, they certainly never reached the level of popularity necessary to become a cultural sensation.
"The Hunger Games," also produced by Lionsgate, fared much better. The first "Hunger Games" film earned over $408 million domestically. Its three follow-ups, "Catching Fire," "Mockingjay — Part 1" and "Mockingjay — Part 2," grossed $425 million, $337 million and $282 million, respectively. Meanwhile, the first "Twilight" movie in 2008 grossed $192 million and, by the time the series reached its third installment, "Eclipse," the franchise was pulling in over $300 million in the U.S. Both franchises became cultural touchstones, spawning countless popular references, late-night comedy parodies, toys and Halloween costumes.
Do not expect "Allegiant" to do the same. Lionsgate fashioned "Divergent" as its next "Hunger Games," perhaps a bit too transparently — the first trailers were criticized by some critics for ripping off "The Hunger Games," and the franchise also cast two young, acclaimed actors as its leads. But the "Divergent" franchise's box office receipts are down, not up. History says "Allegiant" is not likely to see a bigger box office return, following a $20 million dollar dropoff between the first two films.
Critics also never really warmed up to the franchise. Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates film reviews and gives movie's a corresponding score, gave the first two film's a 40 percent and 29 percent positive rating, respectively ("Allegiant" received a dismal 11 percent).