Entertainment & Arts

Insurgent tops US box office but Sean Penn's Gunman backfires

Insurgent Image copyright Lionsgate
Image caption The Divergent series is based on novels by Veronica Roth

Fantasy sequel Insurgent has debuted at the top of the US box office, earning $54m (£36m) in its opening weekend.

Starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James, it took slightly less than the first instalment, Divergent, which opened last year to $54.6m (£36.7m).

Film company Lionsgate said it was "pleased" with the result, and noted there was little competition for the film's teen audience over Easter.

Elsewhere, Sean Penn's action movie The Gunman fired a blank with US audiences.

The star could only muster $5m (£3.3m) for the tough tale of Congo mercenaries, which he co-wrote and co-produced.

It had been hoped the film would capitalise on the audience for the "geriaction" genre - popularised by Liam Neeson's Taken series, with which The Gunman shares a director, Pierre Morel.

Image copyright Allstar/Studiocanal
Image caption Sean Penn's film also stars Mark Rylance, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone and Idris Elba

However, reviews were resoundingly negative. The Atlantic's Christopher Orr called it "a dull, generic retread, made far worse by Penn's self-seriousness as an actor, by the banal political pieties he's grafted on as producer and co-writer, and by the presence of a pitifully retrograde female lead role."

Thanks to a slow weekend at the cinema, The Gunman managed a number four chart position, beaten by Insurgent, Cinderella and Liam Neeson's own action thriller Run All Night.

Cinderella, which had been last week's chart topper, had a strong second week, taking a further $34.5m (£23.2m), bringing its total earnings to $122m (£82m).

Female audience boosting figures

Rounding out the top five was Kingsman: The Secret Service, starring Colin Firth, which dropped a couple of places but still made $4.6m (£3m).

"Over the past couple of weeks, films driven by the female audience have done much better than films driven by the male audience," said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

"But that's all going to change because Furious 7 is on the way."

The seventh film in the street racing franchise, The Fast and the Furious, is due out on 3 April. It has been dedicated to the memory of Paul Walker, who died in a car accident while the film was in production.

His scenes were completed using a mixture of CGI and body doubles - some of whom included Walker's own brothers.

US and Canada Box Office
1) Insurgent
2) Cinderella
3) Run All Night
4) The Gunman
5) Kingsman: The Secret Service
6) Do You Believe
7) The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
8) Focus
9) Chappie
10) The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

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