It's no secret that The Divergent Series hasn't been a critical darling in theaters over the last several years, but that didn't make yesterday's creative upheaval less odd. Following Allegiant's disappointing performance in March, it was announced that Lionsgate is aiming to release the final entry in the series, Ascendant, on television instead, followed by a standalone TV series. This was surprising news to a lot of people, including main star Shailene Woodley, who found out about it the same way as the rest of us did.
While speaking at the Snowden panel earlier today at San Diego Comic-Con (via Deadline), Woodley detailed how she heard about the Divergent Series shakeup after getting off a plane. She explained:
As it stands now, the actress has no idea what her future with the franchise is, saying she needs to "talk and find out what the details are." Woodley plays the Divergent Series' lead protagonist, Beatrice Prior, so it's hard to imagine her not being involved. Nevertheless, it's obvious this news took her off guard. The media shift follows several setbacks for Ascendant, including the original director departing and the budget reportedly being reduced.
Although the first two Divergent Series movies managed to earn a fair amount of money at the box office, the audience reception to the series has always been lukewarm. The third movie, Allegiant, proved to be the most disappointing entry in the series yet, making only about $66 million domestically and $179 million worldwide, along with mostly negative reviews. If Ascendant kept its June 9, 2017 release date in theaters, it would go up against World War Z 2 and The Mummy reboot, and chances are it would be pummeled. Rather than risk another beating, Lionsgate would rather finish this story on TV with a smaller budget. From there, the goal is to release a TV series set in the same universe, but with a new cast of characters.
While Lee Toland Krieger is still slated to direct Ascendant, no official deal has been reached on these Divergent Series plans, including what channel or streaming service the movie and TV show would air. However, of all the actors in these movies, it's hard to imagine Shailene Woodley not being the first one brought back. She's become a rising star over the last couple years, and it would look bad if they couldn't bring back the actress leading this whole endeavor. Considering that this movie is intended to complete the series (it's also worth noting that Allegiant and Ascendant were originally told in one book), it would be excellent if they could bring back all the main actors simply for continuity's sake, but Woodley definitely needs to be a priority.
Stay tuned to Cinema Blend for the latest regarding The Divergent Series' future, but it may be a while before anything is set in stone.