2012's The Hunger Games set the ball rolling for a whole new range of Young Adult dystopian fiction — and one of the best, in my view, was 2014's Divergent. Unfortunately, the years haven't been kind to dystopian movies; while Divergent grossed $288 million at the box office, the third instalment — Allegiant — only grossed a disappointing $179 million. Going purely by the domestic box office takings, it didn't break even on its $110 million budget.
Off the back of this poor financial performance, the final chapter has been relegated to a TV series — and now it seems that not even the cast will be returning for that show!
What's Going On?
The fundamental problem is that the fashion has changed. Where once dystopian Young Adult fiction was all the rage, last year's Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and The Giver suggested that the genre is running out of steam. Frankly, it's hard not to see this year's The Fifth Wave as a last gasp.
At the same time, though, the "Divergent" franchise has a very specific, particular problem. Fundamentally, Veronica Roth's excellent series of novels takes you on a whistle-stop tour through a dystopian world, with twists and turns every step of the way. By the time you finish the last novel, everything you thought you knew has been turned upside-down. It's wonderfully done, but it involves a lot of exposition, and it doesn't translate very well to the big screen. Although the first movie, Divergent, was remarkably faithful to the book, by Insurgent the series was blazing its own trail. With the series set to end in a very different place to the novels that inspired it, Lionsgate was clearly struggling to please both cinemagoers and fans of the books.
So, Lionsgate decided to move the Divergent series from the big screen to the small, figuring that a TV series has the length and flexibility needed to absorb us in the twisting, winding world of the Divergent franchise. Personally, I think this is the right call, but in a sense it was inevitable that the cast wouldn't be willing to return. After all, it's probably not prudent to associate your career so strongly with a struggling franchise.
What's Next for The Divergent Series?
I'm not going to lie; I suspect this story will go unfinished. Hollywood fashions have changed, and Young Adult dystopian fiction is no longer as alluring as it was. We're a long way now from 2012's The Hunger Games.
I freely admit that I find this disappointing. The reality is that I enjoyed Divergent, and — for all I found the direction of travel to be disconcerting — I'm always happier to see a series brought to a conclusion. I hate the idea of leaving the story unfinished. But I also fully understood that no film studio will make a movie — nor will any network make a TV series — purely for the sake of finishing a story that's already failing financially.
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For now, though, it seems that fans will have to be content with the films that we've already got. That said, at least there'll always be Veronice Roth's excellent novels to scratch our Divergent itch!
Do you want to see Divergent head to a TV series?
(Source: We Got This Covered, Poll Image Credit: Lionsgate)