[SPOILERS for The Divergent Series: Insurgent ahead.]
Lionsgate/Summit's The Divergent Series hasn't reached Hunger Games levels of popularity, while the film adaptations have been more costly to produce than fellow YA dystopia movie franchise The Maze Runner. Nonetheless, the Divergent property has become a reliable source of income for the studios - with the initial two installments having grossed, respectively, $289 million and $271 million (to date) - so production will begin as previously scheduled next month on the first half of the movie finale, The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1.
This year's installment, Insurgent, concluded with the death of Jeanine (Kate Winslet) - shot in the head by Factionless leader and Four's (Theo James) mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts). That left a vacancy in the central antagonist position for the remaining two Allegiant movies, but we're now hearing that the new "big baddie" in the story will be played by Jeff Daniels.
THR is reporting that Daniels has entered final negotiations to costar in Allegiant - Part 1 & 2 as David: the head of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. The Bureau, as will be revealed in Allegiant - Part 1, is the organization that was responsible for designing the "Chicago experiment" - which then gave rise to the five different Factions, such as Abnegation and Amity. Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four, and the other Chicago citizens who're still alive by the end of Insurgent wind up meeting up with David and his fellow BGW members; but, without getting too deep into spoiler territory, the groups have... conflicting interests.
Allegiant, as it were, is the latest high-profile project that Daniels will have signed on for since the HBO series The Newsroom (which he co-headlined) came to an end last year. The lauded actor is also playing supporting roles in two buzzed-about Fall 2015 releases: Steve Jobs, the biopic directed by Danny Boyle, and The Martian, the sci-fi novel adaptation helmed by Ridley Scott.
Maze Runner co-writer Noah Oppenheim adapted Divergent Series creator Veronica Roth's source material for Allegiant - Part 1 (and, most likely, will also pen Allegiant - Part 2), while Insurgent director Robert Schwentke will call the shots when production starts in May. The talent behind the camera suggests that the Divergent property will continue to hold its middle-ground position - in the context of the modern YA post-apocalyptic literature adaptation sub-genre - when its concluding chapters reach theaters over the next two years.
That being said, it remains to be seen if splitting its finale into two parts works better for the Divergent Series than it did for Hunger Games (or, before that, Twilight), when it concerns both the critical and fan reception. Maze Runner fans can take solace in knowing that the finale to that franchise, The Death Cure, will not be split into two halves; making Maze Runner the rare YA sci-fi adaptation that began as a trilogy and stayed that way, even after the jump to the big screen.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1 opens in theaters on March 18th, 2016. Allegiant - Part 2 will arrive a year later on March 24th, 2017.