‘Divergent’ Director Abruptly Drops Out of Final Sequel ‘Ascendant’
The most successful among the wave of post-Hunger Games apocalyptic YA lit franchises, Divergent and its equally poorly-named sequels have nearly provided Lionsgate with the Everdeen-sized payday they were searching for. The franchise’s first outing collected a handsome $150 million draw and stayed solid in the second installment, raking in $130 million — not quite Hunger Games money, but more than enough to ensure that any and all sequel opportunities will be explored to completion. When the box-office receipts from The Divergent Series: Insurgent (a.k.a. Divergent 2) came rolling in, executives greenlit a bifurcation of the final novel into two separate films to be titled Allegiant and Ascendant, with the cast and Insurgent director Robert Schwentke on board. Now, a new report has thrown a wrench into that plan.
Deadline reports today that Schwentke has pulled out of the Divergent franchise before he could begin production on Ascendant. The director has already helmed Insurgent and gotten Allegiant, set for a March 18 release, in the can. In fact he cites the draining back-to-back shooting schedules for Allegiant and Ascendant as the rationale for his withdrawal from the fourth film, claiming that there are no hard feelings between himself and Lionsgate and that he has nothing against the franchise.
Lionsgate is now scrambling to procure a suitable replacement in time to adhere to their scheduled Ascendant release of June 9, 2017, though chances are that they’ll secure another workmanlike low-profile director to see blockbuster through to completion. Elsewhere, Shailene Woodley is angrily calling her agent and demanding to know why he didn’t tell her that she could get out of these things whenever she wanted.