The initial success of “Twilight” was once thought to have signaled a future where the multiplex would be overrun with teenage romances adapted from YA books. Five years after the world met Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as Edward and Bella, however, “The Hunger Games” has been the only adaptation to catch on in a major way, despite several notable attempts.
This past year was particularly unkind to the genre, with both “Beautiful Creatures” and “The Mortal Instruments” failing to kick off franchises, but next year’s “Divergent,” based on the book by Veronica Roth, is looking to buck the trend, and the studio behind the project, Summit, is already betting on it.
Summit has just announced that they have a planned release date for the third movie in the franchise, “Allegiant,” three months before the first opens. The conclusion is scheduled to hit theaters on March 18, 2016, putting a year between installments. The second installment, “Insurgent,” has already found a writer, Brian Duffield, but as Variety just revealed, “Divergent” director Neil Burger will not be returning for the film currently scheduled for March 2015.
The release plan for a potential “Divergent” series matches what Lionsgate — which owns Summit — did with “The Hunger Games,” which is currently in production on the third and fourth films in the series, the two-part “Mockingjay,” so success with this model isn’t unprecedented.
The strategy didn’t work so well for “The Mortal Instruments,” however. A sequel, “City of Ashes,” was originally scheduled to start production in September, shortly after “City of Bones” opened, but disappointing box-office numbers caused Constantin Film to “reposition the film in the current market place” and delay filming indefinitely.
When rumors surfaced that the movie might be back on last month, star Lily Collins told MTV News that the news might be a little prematurely optimistic. “Well, there is a lot of conversation still going on,” she said. “I don’t know anything else; I kind of am with everyone else in the waiting game.”
But will “Divergent” be the one to break the streak for YA? It is more “Hunger Games” than “Twilight,” after all, and the similarities between “Beautiful Creatures,” “The Mortal Instruments,” and the vampire romance brought the critics down hard on the 2013 YA entries. Maybe what audiences in 2013 are looking for is someone that’s a little more Katniss than Bella.