'Divergent' teen warriors defeat 'Muppets' at box office

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK, March 23 Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:18pm EDT

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK, March 23 (Reuters) - Futuristic thriller "Divergent", the story of a society that divides people based on personality traits, dominated weekend movie charts with $56 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, according to estimates released on Sunday.

Walt Disney Co family comedy "Muppets Most Wanted" finished in second place, nabbing $16.5 million from Friday through Sunday, research firm Rentrak said.

Animated "Mr. Peabody & Sherman", produced by Dreamworks Animation Inc, took the No. 3 slot with $11.7 million.

"Divergent" was adapted from a series of best-selling books by newcomer author Veronica Roth.

Shailene Woodley stars as young heroine Tris Prior, a teenager who is a threat to the government because she doesn't fit into one of its factions. British actor Theo James plays Four, Tris' mentor and love interest.

The movie is the start of a new franchise for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, the studio behind the blockbuster "Hunger Games" movies, which are also based on popular books about a teen heroine in a dystopian world.

The company announced on Friday it would move ahead with production on a second film in the "Divergent" series, called "Insurgent", due to reach theaters in March 2015. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud; Editing by Sophie Hares)