Lionsgate found tremendous success in the young adult market with its hit Hunger Games film series. And were hoping to do it again with another dystopian series, this time from young author Veronica Roth, beginning with the 2014 film Divergent.
Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet, Divergent powered in $276 million in worldwide box office. But two more box office-disappointing films later, Lionsgate pulled the plug on the series, making the unusual move of planning the final film as a television movie.
That doesn’t sit well with Divergent‘s original director, Neil Burger, who told The Hollywood Reporter the problems began when Lionsgate split the last book into two films.
The second film, Insurgent, picked up where Divergent left off a year earlier, pulling in a smaller domestic gross, but a larger $295.3 million worldwide haul. It wasn’t until Allegiant hit theaters last March that Lionsgate saw problems. The film received poor reviews from critics, and earned just half what the other movies did in North America, and $171.5 million worldwide.
It seemed impossible for Lionsgate to invest another $100 million-plus into a fourth film, so taking the cheaper television route seemed like a good idea. The problem? It might also include a new cast.
“It’s just too bad because I love all those actors, and they were very loyal to it. They’re (Lionsgate) still really trying to figure out what they’re gonna do with it.”
“I think it’s sad.”
For its part, Lionsgate is hoping to continue the Divergent series as a continuing television project. One potential home could be the premium cable channel Starz, once Lionsgate finishes its $4.4 billion announced acquisition of the company.
Woodley would like to return, but it’s unlikely she would portray Tris for one last time if it’s on a much smaller screen.
“I signed up to tell the whole story of Tris, and I would love to be able to do that. Nothing would make me happier.”
The fourth film, which had been called Ascendant, had been set for a release next June. Up and coming director Lee Toland Krieger, had been tapped to direct, but his status with the project is now unclear, too.
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