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'Divergent' film earns $4.9 million, Lions Gate green lights sequel

Cast member Mekhi Phifer and his wife Reshelet Barnes pose at the premiere of "Divergent" in Los Angeles, California March 18, 2014. REUTERS
Cast member Mekhi Phifer and his wife Reshelet Barnes pose at the premiere of "Divergent" in Los Angeles, California March 18, 2014. REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lions Gate Entertainment Corp will move ahead with plans for a second movie in its new "Divergent" dystopian thriller series, the company said on Friday after the first film debuted with $4.9 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales from Thursday night showings.

"Divergent" stars Shailene Woodley in the story of a futuristic society that divides people into factions based on single personality traits. Woodley's character, teen heroine Tris Prior, has multiple dominant traits that make it difficult for her to fit in, and she becomes a threat to the government's faction system.

Lions Gate had tentatively scheduled "Divergent" sequels for March 2015 and March 2016. On Friday, the company said it gave the official green light to the second installment, "Insurgent".

"We're confident that Divergent is on its way to becoming another important franchise for us," Lions Gate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer said in a statement.

"Divergent" is expected to sell between $50 million and $68 million worth of tickets at U.S. and Canadian theaters through Sunday, according to pre-opening estimates from Wall Street and box office analysts.

The film is based on the first of a trilogy of novels by newcomer author Veronica Roth.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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