Veronica Roth's Divergent novels take place in a future world where - in the aftermath of a terrible war - a new societal structure has been imposed to maintain the peace, wherein every individual (upon reaching their mid-teen years) is assigned to one of five different factions, based on different virtues. Of course, no system of classification is without its outliers, and those who do not fit into any one group - known as "divergents" - are viewed as a threat by the authorities who run this world.
Combine those pop genre elements - dystopian setting, totalitarian government - with a Katniss Everdeen-esque protagonist in Beatrice 'Tris' Prior (Shailene Woodley), and you can understand why Summit Entertainment (Twilight) hasn't wasted any time in getting a movie franchise based on Roth's best-selling books moving down the assembly line, based on the hope that Divergent's box office will be closer to Hunger Games territory, less Ender's Game (to use fitting comparisons).
The first Divergent movie doesn't open in theaters until next month (watch the trailer), but the sequel Insurgent already has a finished initial script draft written by Brian Duffield (this summer's Natalie Portman western Jane Got a Gun), which Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman (Winter's Tale) is now revising. In addition, Summit has announced that Robert Schwentke will take over directing from Neil Burger (Limitless), who helmed the original installment.
Last week, Variety broke the news that Insurgent has been scheduled to begin principal photography in Atlanta, GA and Chicago, IL this May, keeping it on track to make a March 2015 release date that Summit had previously claimed. The younger stars of Divergent - which include Theo James (Golden Boy), Miles Teller (That Awkward Moment), Ansel Elgort (Carrie) and Zoë Kravitz (After Earth) - are well past their rapid-aging teen years, unlike the Harry Potter cast back in the day; regardless, there's plenty of reason for Summit to strike while the iron's hot (read: while the source material is at the peak of its popularity).
Schwentke is coming off directing one of last year's most (in)famous box office bombs and critical punching bag, in the shape of the Jeff Bridges/Ryan Reynolds supernatural buddy action/comedy R.I.P.D.. However, in all fairness, he also has the popular comic book adaptation RED and Jodie Foster suspense/thriller Flightplan to his name, as well as his own "divergent" work - the time-travel romance/drama The Time Traveler's Wife.
One common complaint that's been voiced about the Divergent trailer footage is that Burger's visual approach and world-building sensibilities appear to leave something to be desired; whether that's also true of the film, remains to be seen. Admittedly, Schwentke isn't known for being a cinematic visionary, but he is more experienced - and proven to be capable - in the field of action filmmaking than Burger. That should make all the more important a difference with Insurgent, as the narrative stakes heighten, rebellion breaks out, and the power scale in Tris' world begins to tip over.
Divergent opens in theaters on March 21st, 2014.
Insurgent is scheduled to arrive on March 20th, 2015.
Source: Variety, Summit Entertainment