After critics panned Divergent (leading to a 33% Rotten Tomatoes score), hopes for a strong opening weekend fell by the wayside. Shares of Lions Gate (LGF) followed suit, dropping 12.3% last week. As we entered the weekend, Wall Street's $50+ million expectations were little more than a pipe dream.
All the bad news weighed on Divergent like a real-life villain. As a result, the movie entered Saturday with a disappointing $22.8 million total. Some media outlets dropped their expectations as low as $40 million.
However, the young ladies of American defied mainstream critics. Underground critics did as well. By Saturday night, its Rotten Tomatoes score had risen 8 points to 41% among critics. More importantly, its score among moviegoers had crept up to a massively divergent 81%.
The rising tide showed through in the Saturday box office numbers -- just shy of $20 million, a heroic number for a flick that was left for dead just 24 hours earlier.
Suddenly, $50 million appears feasible again. Divergent is Dauntless.
We'll soon see if the latest Seeking Alpha analysis proves correct...
Disclosure: I am long LGF.