Lionsgate to Cut ‘Ascendant’ Budget in Light of ‘Divergent’ Franchise Fatigue
It had to happen eventually: the post-apocalyptic YA bubble has finally popped, and Hollywood has begun to panic as it realizes that it’s hit a point of diminishing returns. Allegiant, the third installment of the Divergent franchise that was supposed to launch Shailene Woodley to A-list ubiquity and grant Lionsgate another box-office bonanza in the tradition of their highly lucrative Hunger Games franchise, did not perform as expected. That may be putting it lightly, too — this past weekend, the film opened to a pitiful $29.1 million compared to the film’s bloated $110 million budget.
That budget estimation comes from a source cited in a new item on Variety announcing that Lionsgate will scramble to backpedal on their all-in commitment to YA by slashing the budget for the upcoming final installment of the Divergent series, Ascendant. Though exact figures have not been pinpointed at present, the Variety piece quotes a source claiming that the final installment will shrink instead of grow, as is customary for blockbuster franchise pictures, with Lionsgate scaling the budget back several millions of dollars. Variety quotes box-office analyst Jeff Bock as he claims that there’s no real precedent for a drop-off this steep between franchise sequels, possibly excepting the dip between the second and third Hunger Games movies, but those put up much higher numbers than anyone had expected anyway.
If this lessened budget represents the first slight breeze of the mighty gale-force winds of change, the dominant model of young-woman-fronted action could be on its way out. This wave seems to have crested with the staggeringly successful Twilight and early Hunger Games films, and has now begun its journey out to shore. If the Maze Runner franchise knows what’s good for it, it’ll maze-run directly into a different genre.