Lionsgate announced today that production is officially underway on the penultimate installment in the Divergent franchise, The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1, in Atlanta. As is all the rage, the final book in author Veronica Roth’s trilogy is being split in half, but Allegiant – Part 1 and Allegiant – Part 2 are being shot separately. The story for Part 1 finds Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) escaping beyond the Wall that encircles Chicago to finally discover the shocking truth of what lies behind it.
Filmmaker Robert Schwentke, who did a surprisingly solid job at the helm of Insurgent, returns to direct Allegiant – Part 1, and new cast additions include Jeff Daniels as the morally ambiguous David, with Bill Skarsgård and Nadia Hilker filling the roles of Matthew and Nita respectively. Returning cast members include Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Keiynan Lonsdale, Jonny Weston, Mekhi Phifer, and Daniel Dae Kim.
This series, which was dubbed “the next Hunger Games” when first in development, is fine. It doesn’t have the thematic resonance or story richness to really stand apart as something especially engaging, but it’s entertaining enough. Having read the books, though, the ending of Insurgent opens up Allegiant – Part 1 and Part 2 to major deviations with regards to how the Chicago community reacts to/interacts with the outside world. I’ll be curious to see how these changes are addressed in the next two films, and if the terrible story of Allegiant can be turned into something salvageable on the big screen.
Per the press release, the credited screenwriters on Allegiant – Part 1 are Noah Oppenheim and Adam Cooper & Bill Collage and The Perks of Being a Wallflower writer/director Stephen Chbosky. Curiously, it looks as though this series may finish out without ever having the same screenwriter work on more than one film, as Insurgent’s Brian Duffield and Akiva Goldsman are nowhere to be found.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 opens in theaters on March 18, 2016 followed by Allegiant – Part 2 on March 24, 2017.