This news broke a couple of days ago on Variety, and has not been confirmed by Lionsgate; but it also has not been denied, so I guess it is true. Allegiant-the-movie (or rather, Allegiant-the-movie-somewhat-loosely-inspired-by Veronica Roth’s-Allegiant-the-novel) failed to scale the high wall of acceptable reviews and–more importantly, no doubt–box office proceeds. Lionsgate has decided not to proceed with Ascendant-the-movie, but rather will tie up the franchise with a TV movie, that will hopefully launch a new TV series with different characters set in Roth’s dystopia.
As the resident Divergent-junkie and Veronica Roth fangirl, I see the news as a mixed bag. It is crystal-clear that Lionsgate overplayed its hand in thinking they could squeeze four films out of this trilogy, especially when the book they chose to “split,” Allegiant, itself disappointed so many fans. As it was, the Insurgent and Allegiant movies deviated so much from the books that inspired them that I don’t think I’ll miss the fourth movie on the big screen. There’s also the fact that they basically used up all their source material in the third movie, unless they planned to spend 2 hours killing Tris and scattering her ashes from the Hancock Tower. Link to the Mugglenet academia podcast for more details on this.
There’s a lot we don’t know; apparently the announcement came as a surprise to a lot of people, including the cast. It’s unclear if any of the major players will sign on for the movie, or even if a network is interested. Veronica Roth, a fairly consistent social media presence, is so far silent on the issue. But, if the TV-movie is re-envisioned as an “out with the old, in with the new” launch for a new series, it makes more sense to kill Tris, mind-wipe Peter and let the ashes of Allegiant disappear into the wind as they start a new story with different characters.
My advice for the Gamemakers:
- Go back to the source material you skipped in Divergent, Insurgent and the Free Four stories. There are lots of plotlines and characters you could pick up. Uriah is the obvious choice, since you didn’t even let the poor guy speak in the Allegiant movie, though Kenyan Lonsdale is presumably unavailable; all comics fans know he will eventually be Kid Flash. But there’s always Shauna (hire a disabled actress for genuine diversity in your cast), Cara, George and Amar. Yes, you will have to pay Ms. Roth royalties for her creations, but divert some of your special effects budget to her, and a few good screenwriters, and you’ll have a better product in the end.
- Psychology and neuroscience is what made the best part of the series tick. Work some into the TV movie and series.
- As I said in my first Allegiant review, there were a few possibilities for follow-up plots. Peter gradually reverting to his old personality, despite the lost memories. Marcus still floating around, presumably ready to make trouble. The government’s uneasy acceptance of the new Bureau and the aborted Chicago experiment. The continued threat from the Fringe. And, of course, how the city itself adjusts to life after factions.
- Finally, if you are going to follow up with the failed experiment angle, hire a genetics consultant, get the science right and spend some time educating the public about epigenetics while you are at it. Actually, I know some science faculty at Mary Baldwin University who will be happy to advise your scriptwriters in exchange for a donation to our building renovation fund.