Divergent: Allegiant hit theaters earlier this spring, and may be the series' last appearance on the big screen. Variety revealed that Lionsgate is repositioning the franchise for television with plans to release the final installment, Divergent: Ascendant, as a TV movie followed by a spinoff series.
Based on the book series by Veronica Roth, the Divergent series takes place in a dystopian society where citizens are sorted into five different affiliations based on their personalities. It follows Beatrice Prior, who’s labeled a "divergent" — someone who can think independently and who is seen as a threat to the stability of society.
Divergent was supposed to be the next big YA franchise
When it first hit theaters in 2014, Divergent was seen as the next huge young adult franchise to take over the box office. Lionsgate was so optimistic about its prospects that it followed the lead of films such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Hunger Games: Mockingjay by splitting its final act into a pair of films. Now, it’s looking like the final film won’t hit theaters at all.
It’s not hard to see why Lionsgate is taking a new route with this move: where Harry Potter and Hunger Games have become massive successes with audiences and critics, Divergent has struggled. The first installment garnered only a 41 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes; The Divergent Series: Allegiant pulled in a mere 13 percent and seriously underperformed at the box office. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Allegiant was the second biggest failure for the company after Gods of Egypt. Additionally, Allegiant director Robert Schwentke just departed the film and was replaced with Lee Toland Krieger (The Age of Adaline).
The final film will help launch a spinoff television show
It appears that Lionsgate is trying to salvage the franchise as best they can by positioning it for a television audience. Currently, the plan appears to be to complete the current story arc with the main cast with Ascendant, while using the film to introduce a new group of characters who will carry the spinoff television show. It’s not clear if any of the film’s cast will appear in the television show if it happens, and no television networks have been approached to carry the show.
Downgrading the film to become a glorified television pilot could help cut the company’s losses while appeasing fans of the series, even if it’s a huge blow to Lionsgate. Films such as Stargate and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have been spun off into extremely successful television franchises, and it’s possible that the company is hoping to score a similar level of success with Divergent.