A militant, repressive society masquerading as a utopian paradise in the not-too distant future. A young protagonist (perhaps with a very special set of skills) using all of her wit and abilities to save her friends and help reset society. By now it’s become a well-worn trend in the ubiquitous world of YA dystopian fiction. Following the massive success of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, which was adapted into four films, Hollywood has been investing quite a bit in the YA dystopian future craze that series helped launch. Capitalizing on this new found interest of teenagers fighting against The Powers That Be studios quickly green-lit other genre favorites The Maze Runner, The 5th Wave and Ender’s Game, and though each were based on successful novels, none found the same big-screen success.
The series compared perhaps most frequently to The Hunger Games is the Divergent series. This film adaption is based on Veronica Roth’s YA trilogy where society is divided into factions based on their dominant personality traits and follows Tris (Shailene Woodley), a woman with multiple dominant traits. While the first two films received mixed reviews, the third installment The Divergent Series: Allegiant has been critically-panned and heralded by some as the end of this particular era. It’s now clear that the film’s poor performance will impact the final installment, The Divergent Series: Ascendant.
Allegiant has only amassed $29 million in the U.S., and $54 million internationally, making it a much more modest opening than Insurgent, which opened domestically at $52 million. Following this sharp downturn, Lionsgate is reportedly cutting Ascendant’s budget, according to THR. Though we don’t have the exact figures, THR reports Allegiant‘s budget was at around $110 million, so it follows that the final film will have to be built on a number considerably smaller than that.
This is another setback for a film that has already seen a name change as well as a new director taking over. This uninspired sequel, and the studio’s potential lack of faith in the final act does point to the decline in interest for a genre that has seen its fair share of flops and fizzles. This also highlights the potential detriment that splitting the source material from one book into two movies brings – something executives have said was done to honor the significant amount of story and not, as many fans suspect, to simply squeeze more money out of the franchise.
It seems a little extreme to place the future of a genre on the back of only one franchise, and we have yet to see how the final film will fare with audiences. Either way, it seems safe to say that there will be a small break in YA dystopian films — at least until the remakes begin.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is now in theaters. The Divergent Series: Ascendant will hit theaters on June 9th, 2017.