When Lionsgate originally announced it would adapt Veronica Roth’s popular young adult novel set in a futuristic dystopian world and featuring a strong female lead character, Divergent naturally drew comparisons to The Hunger Games. After the record-breaking success of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - but before Divergent was released in theaters - Lionsgate gave the green light to adapt the other two books in Roth’s trilogy: Insurgent and Allegiant. A few months later, the studio announced that the final film would be split into two separate movies.
Although the cast and crew are still shooting principal photography for Insurgent, the producers have already begun securing the main players behind the scenes for Allegiant - Part 1. Specifically, a scriptwriter with some experience adapting young adult novels to the big screen has been tapped for the adaptation.
THR is reporting that Noah Oppenheim (The Maze Runner) has signed on to adapt the script for Allegiant - Part 1 from Roth’s novel. Divergent was co-written by Evan Daugherty (Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Vanessa Taylor while the script for Insurgent was adapted by Akiva Goldsman (Fringe) and Brian Duffield.
Whether Lionsgate will follow in the trend of hiring two writers for each Divergent installment and tap a co-scribe to join Oppenheim remains to be seen. Additionally, the third film in the franchise doesn’t yet have a director, but Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher will return - they signed on to produce all four Divergent films - along with Pouya Shahbazian.
Though Oppenheim’s past work co-writing Fox’s The Maze Runner might grant him some insight into adapting young adult novels to the big screen - a feat that can either be very successful (The Hunger Games) or not (The Mortal Instruments) - that's the extent of his screenwriting experience. Prior to Maze Runner, he served as the executive producer on MTV’s The Buried Life and senior producer on Today and Hardball With Chris Matthews.
Since Oppenheim’s only experience in scriptwriting has yet to debut in theaters (The Maze Runner premieres mid-September), it’s hard to judge how he'll fare with Roth’s novel or whether he’ll be able to pen a film that can stand on its own and as fit into a big-budget franchise.
Of course, that doesn't mean Allegiant - Part 1 won’t be successful, but for those who are unsure how recruiting Oppenheim will affect the film and the franchise, it might be best to reserve judgement until The Maze Runner premieres. At least then Oppenheim’s skill as a screenwriter working with adaptations will be better understood.
Insurgent hits theaters on March 20th, 2015; Allegiant: Part 1 one year later on March 18th, 2016; and Part 2 will premiere March 24th, 2017.