Harry Potter did it. Twilight did it. The Hunger Games is doing it. Should we be all that surprised that Divergent is joining the list of feature adaptations that split the final book into two movies? That's the plan for the third and final novel in Veronica Roth's Divergent series, Allegiant. Lionsgate announced the news today that Allegiant Part 1 will arrive in theaters March 18, 2016 and Part 2 has been scheduled to release March 24, 2017. That means one more movie for fans and a chance for an extra box office hit for Summit if all goes well.
Lionsgate's Summit had all three books' adaptations laid out on their release schedule before the first Divergent film was released, a mark of how confident the studio was that people would take to Neil Burger's adaptation of Roth's novel. Since its March 21 release, Divergent has already grossed more than $116 million domestically, so the bet appears to be paying off. And now, not only are those planned sequels still a go, but Lionsgate is adding one more film to the line-up. The adaptation of Insurgent is slated to arrive in theaters March 20, 2015, after which Allegiant Parts 1 & 2 will roll out in March over the two following years.
As mentioned, the first film, which stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet, has already done well domestically, and Lionsgate notes that it's still rolling out overseas. Divergent is set to open this weekend in France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Scandinavia and other major territories, so it'll be interesting to see how the film does globally in the coming weeks. In the meantime, talk of Allegiant's adaptation being split has us curious as to whether or not Lionsgate plans to make any drastic alterations to the story in their effort to stretch it into two books, or for plot purposes.
Divergent introduces us to a dystopian society set in what was once Chicago, where people are divided into five factions, which dictate their lifestyle. The story focuses on Shailene Woodley's Tris Prior, a teen who chooses to transfer factions and begin her training in the Dauntless faction, where people are brave and tasked with protecting the city. Things take a sharp turn toward the end of the story -- to put it vaguely to avoid spoilers -- so we should probably expect something a bit different from Insurgent in terms of the direction of the story. And then there's Allegiant, which Lionsgate describes vaguely as:
After the cataclysmic events in Insurgent, Tris and Four enter a dangerous new world in Allegiant -- Parts 1 & 2 that they no longer recognize. As new truths are revealed about the past and future, Tris must face impossible choices about courage, allegiance and love to protect the people closest to her.
There are some exciting and interesting things that happen in Allegiant, but there are also some events that fans seem to be mixed on, to put it mildly and intentionally vaguely. As much as I'm curious to see how Lionsgate splits the story to squeeze two movies out of it -- Allegiant isn't drastically longer than Divergent or Insurgent -- I'm even more curious to see if the adaptations stick closely to the final book, or if Allegiant Part 2 makes any dramatic changes with the story's ending. There's also the possibility that it could take the Breaking Dawn approach in altering the ending but not drastically changing the outcome in any way. That may be the way to go here, but it's far too soon to tell. In fact, given that the last installment's being split in two, we might not get many hints about the plans for the final movie for a couple of years.
In the meantime, I really liked what Neil Burger did with Divergent. I thought the adaptation was done well, and it was very nicely paced, especially given the length. Insurgent hits theaters next year and Burger won't be directing it -- the torch has been passed to Robert Schwentke -- but given the fairly drastic shift in the direction of the story from Divergent to Insurgent, I'm going to be curious to see how Schwentke approaches the next installment in this franchise. Production on Insurgent starts next month.