Divergent Sequels Get Release Dates, But Director Neil Burger Isn't Coming Back

By Nick Venable 2013-12-17 00:34:43discussion comments
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Now that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has brought in $730 million, eclipsing its predecessorís worldwide earnings by almost $40 million, I canít imagine Lionsgate really believes their upcoming Divergent trilogy will reach those numbers. But theyíre definitely ready to live in an optimistic utopia as they have set release dates for both the dystopic sequels Insurgent and Allegiant. Donít expect Divergent director Neil Burger back, though, because he has diverged from the project. Youíre glad we didnít use that in the headline, right?

Variety gave no sign as to why the director stepped down, but the studio still has a short while to nail a replacement down. No doubt shooting for future commercial tie-ins with college basketballís March Madness, Lionsgate has set March 20, 2015 for Insurgent, while Allegiant will hit theaters on March 18, 2016. The first film went into production in April of this year, and even though we have yet to see how well it will do in theaters, there is a wealth of directors out there who can pull off high-concept YA fare for the back to back productions. Maybe The Hunger Gamesí Gary Ross?

Speaking of, this question presents itself: Before anyone has had a chance to see Divergent as Burger lensed it, does it even technically matter to anyone not involved with the production that heís out of the picture? Obviously fans of Burger and Veronica Rothís novels may be affected, but I wonder if some people are almost too sold on directors sticking with franchises for three films or more. Have Peter Jacksonís predetermined trilogies somehow tainted the idea that different directors should give audiences different takes on preexisting material? Once Ross left the Games, Francis Lawrence stepped in to direct the next three films, the latter two of which representing the final novel in that series. To me, itís only once we see what Divergent gives viewers that we can begin to wonder what Burgerís lack of presence will mean for the series. Iíll be passing along the soapbox now.

The first Divergent film will follow Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), a teenager growing up in a futuristic Chicago where the population is divided into five factions based on their inhabitantsí qualities. Tris inhabits all the qualities, and could possibly be the key to saving humanity, which makes her a target to the powers that be. Spoiler alert: She doesnít die in the end. It also stars Kate Winslet, Theo James, Ray Stevenson, ZoŽ Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney and Mekhi Phifer.

Read what Burger had to say about the film with our own Kelly here, and check out the trailer below. You can find it in theaters on March 21, 2014.


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