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Lions Gate Hit by Weak 'Divergent' Reviews

Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF) tumbled as much as 5%, as its highly anticipated action flick, Divergent, received weak reviews. The film is slated for a worldwide release on March 21, 2014.

Divergent is based on Veronica Roth’s book of the same name and is directed by Neil Burger. It is the first installment in the trilogy starring Shailene Woodley in the lead. The futuristic book is set in dystopian Chicago and depicts young Tris Prior’s (Woodley) coming of age.

The youth oriented theme is reminiscent of Lions Gate’s hugely successful franchise The Hunger Games trilogy, which also had a female lead (Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence) fighting against odds.

However, critics do not seem to be too impressed as is evident from the reviews. Despite laudable performances from Woodley, James Theo and Kate Winslet (who plays the villain), critics found this 140-minute film a clichéd, run-of-the-mill affair.

The director’s adaptation was also seen as a poor attempt at stitching philosophy, romance and brutal action on celluloid.

Divergent is the latest in the genre of “young-adult fantasy adaptations.” The success or failure of this movie will decide the future of this franchise and possibly of the genre, according to some experts. They argue that four high-profile films of this genre (Beautiful Creatures, The Host, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Vampire Academy) failed to make it big at the box office as compared to Hunger Games and Twilight in the past. If Divergent also fails to impress, it might be difficult to sustain interest in this genre in the future.

If successful, it would mean another money-minting franchise for Lions Gate. In the past, the media house has enjoyed an impressive run on the back of the successes of Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga (distributed by its subsidiary Summit Entertainment).

Currently, Lions Gate carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other stocks worth considering in the media/publishing sector include Digital Cinema Destinations Corp. (DCIN), A. H. Belo Corporation (AHC) and The Walt Disney Co. (DIS). All of these have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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