Dystopian sci-fi futures are the gift that keeps on giving in Hollywood. This year brought us The Divergent Series: Insurgent, in which heroine Tris Prior continued the good fight to survive in an alternate version of Chicago - and still to come in 2015 are The Scorch Trials, the second installment of the Maze Runner trilogy, and the conclusion of The Hunger Games in Mockingjay - Part 2.
Given the annual nature of these franchises, no sooner has one been released than its sequel heads into production. Such is the case with The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1, the penultimate installment of the movie series based on the young adult sci-fi novels by Veronica Roth. The movie, which is set to be released under the shorter title of Allegiant - Part 1 so that moviegoers don't run out of breath when trying to buy tickets, began principal photography in Atlanta this week, with Insurgent's Robert Schwentke returning to direct.
The Divergent Series is set in a society that has been strictly segregated according to a few key personality traits, and in which those citizens who possess a mix of several of those traits are considered 'Divergent' and treated as dangerous outcasts. Following the events of Insurgent, Allegiant - Part 1 will continue the story of rebellious Divergent Tris and her friends as they prepare to explore the unknown world outside the walls of Chicago, and discover the reason behind the social structure that they grew up in.
The returning cast includes Shailene Woodley as Tris and Theo James as love interest Four, along with Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort and Maggie Q. New cast members include Jeff Daniels, Nadia Hilker and Bill Skarsgård. Allegiant - Part 1 was scripted by a pretty big writing team: Noah Oppenheim (The Maze Runner), writing duo Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (Exodus: Gods and Kings), and Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Beings a Wallflower).
The two previous entries in the Divergent franchise both received mixed reviews, with Insurgent failing to impress as many critics as the first movie. However, between a dedicated fanbase and the films' moderate production budgets they've both managed to put away a modest profit at the box office. Lionsgate was confident enough in the franchise to green light the sequels before Divergent even made it into theaters, and it looks like that confidence wasn't misplaced.
The production start date leaves Allegiant - Part 1 with a fairly tight turnaround of just ten months, but by this point Schwentke and the cast are probably well into the swing of things. We'll keep you updated on Allegiant - Part 1 as production continues.
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.