If book sales count for anything, “Divergent” won’t touch “The Hunger Games” at the box office – but it’ll do a hell of a lot better than “Ender’s Game.”
That’s the takeaway from Stifel Nicolaus analyst Benjamin Mogil’s report comparing “Divergent” book sales to those of “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” on the eve of their release.
Both franchises were phenomenal successes for Summit and Lionsgate, respectively, and the joint company is releasing “Divergent.” Mogil’s (very limited) data indicates “Divergent” will be a modest blockbuster.
In all three cases, the first movie opened in theaters three to four years after the first book, and all of the books in each series hit the shelves before the movie saw the light of day.
The first book in Veronica Roth’s series, ‘Divergent,” ranks fifth on the Amazon Best Sellers list, higher than the first “Twilight” did before the movie adaptation opened in theaters. It ranks lower than the fourth and final “Twilight” book, “Breaking Dawn,” and the first “Hunger Games” book, did at that same point.
However, the real difference can be found in the sequels. While “Insurgent” and “Allegiant” are both popular books, they rank outside the Top 15 on Amazon’s list. No “Twilight” or “Hunger Games” book sat outside the Top 8 before the first movie opened. Even “The Hunger Games” trilogy box set came in at 11.
Take a look at Mogil’s chart:
So what does this mean?
There are examples of popular books doing big business (the aforementioned duo, “Harry Potter, etc), and there are movies like “The Mortal Instruments.”
One promising sign: “Divergent” books are more popular on the eve of the movie’s release than “Ender’s Game” was. That book, considered a seminal science fiction novel, never hit the Top 50 in 2013. Lionsgate/Summit’s expensive movie adaptation grossed just $112 million.
“Divergent” book sales are below “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” during the key pre-release period. Those lower sales fall in line with advanced tracking indicators suggesting the adaptation will fall short of “The Hunger Games” or “Twlight” at the box office. Stifel’s “box office estimate for “Divergent” is less than half of what “Hunger Games” generated.
That still puts “Divergent” in line to gross close to $350 million — and presumably pave the way for even more adaptations of young adult novels.