12:45 pm EDT, March 21, 2016

‘Divergent’ threequel ‘Allegiant’ is performing really badly at the box office

It's never a good idea to alienate the original fans.

The third movie in the Divergent series, Allegiant, failed to open at #1 at the weekend box office despite opening against smaller films.

Allegiant’s opening weekend box office tally totaled $29 million domestically, making it the smallest debut for a Divergent movie yet (Divergent made $54 million and Insurgent made $52 million). It was beaten by Disney’s Zootopia, whose third weekend at the box office made $38 million (for a total so far of $201 million).

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Why the big drop for the Divergent series? Several factors are likely at play. For one, the film series has started to divert greatly from Veronica Roth’s source material, which is alienating some fans (this writer included). Two, there’s growing concern that moviegoers are increasingly tired of seeing dystopian movies. Three, the Allegiant reviews say it’s the worst of the series.

And four, moviegoers are tired of seeing a single book get split into two movies. For additional proof, look no further than Mockingjay’s performance. Part 1 made more money in its opening weekend and in its lifetime than Part 2 did. That’s right: Many people who saw Part 1 were so bored by the movie that they didn’t want to come back a year later to see Katniss kill Coin and Snow.

Related: Why I’ve lost interest in Divergent, and YA’s dystopian genre

There was a time when this did work. Both Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 posted larger box office numbers than their “Part 1” predecessors. In theory it should be easier for Part 2 movies to make more money — you’d think that more people would want to see the grand finale rather than the penultimate movie.

People are just tired of these splits. They’re tired of these stories being stretched out for no good reason other than the studio making more dough. It’s a particular bad situation for Allegiant, because many readers did not like the finale in the source material.

It’ll be interesting to see how Allegiant’s poor box office performance affects the final movie, Ascendant. Unlike Deathly Hallows, Breaking Dawn, and Mockingjay, the studio decided to not shoot Allegiant and Ascendant back-to-back. As they head into production, they’ll have to look at how they can shoot this movie without spending too much. In other words, the budget for this movie will probably be smaller than what it took to make Allegiant.

A report at THR on Monday morning underscores the difficult situation the studio now faces. Lionsgate’s stock price fell on Monday following Allegiant’s underwhelming performance. Part of the reason for the stock price drop comes from Lionsgate’s promise to investors that they would continue to bring in good box office numbers in their post-Mockingjay world. It was The Hunger Games series that helped Lionsgate grow its stock price. What becomes of the stock without Katniss?

Allegiant will likely continue to post poor box office numbers next weekend, when it goes up against the opening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

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