Shailene Woodley’s YA Science Fiction Movie Is Getting A Second Life On Streaming

Shailene Woodley's 2014 film Divergent is in the top ten most-watched movies on HBO Max.

By Douglas Helm | Updated

Shailene Woodley divergent

The Hunger Games craze led to quite a few YA wannabe film franchises attempting to follow in the Jennifer Lawrence-led hit’s footsteps, but they rarely found the same level of success. One of these franchise experiments was Shailene Woodley’s Divergent series, which is currently finding a second life on streaming. The first film in the franchise is currently in the top ten for HBO Max according to FlixPatrol.

Divergent takes place in (as many YA franchises do) a post-apocalyptic dystopia where the population is divided into factions based on virtues. Shailene Woodley plays Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior, who learns she is a Divergent and won’t fit into any of society’s factions. This leads to her uncovering a secret plot to rid the world of Divergents and create a perfect society.

Divergent is based on the YA novel of the same name by Veronica Roth. Neil Burger directed the first film in the series with a screenplay by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor. Along with Shailene Woodley, the cast includes Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer, Kate Winslet, and Maggie Q.

Despite landing with a bit of a thud, these movies did nab some quality actors that were on the precipice of becoming big stars. Notably, Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller broke through with their roles in these films. Of course, their presence doesn’t necessarily mean the films were great.

Divergent is likely the best out of the films released in the franchise, but that’s not exactly high praise. The film received mixed reviews at best with plenty of negative reviews as well, though the performances by Shailene Woodley and the rest of the cast were hardly the issue. However, the film managed to pull in around $288.9 million at the worldwide box office, which means more films would be greenlit.

Shailene Woodley divergent

To understand why Shailene Woodley’s Divergent made so much money, you simply have to look at the popular movies of the early 2010s. Divergent came out in 2014, meaning The Hunger Games came out just two years earlier, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire came out the year before. These two Hunger Games films collectively made over $1.5 billion at the international box office and Hollywood was looking to recreate that success.

In 2014, both Shailene Woodley’s Divergent and Dylan O’Brien’s The Maze Runner came out to try and capture some of that YA market. Both films featured groups of teens fighting to survive in a dystopian society with protagonists who had something special about them that set them apart and helped them fight against society. The formula may have been a bit obvious, but it did technically work.

These films were profitable enough to warrant multiple sequels, although they never enjoyed nearly the same level of success as The Hunger Games. Shailene Woodley’s Divergent franchise would get sequels with The Divergent Series: Insurgent and The Divergent Series: Allegiant. The reviews for the films would get progressively worse, so we haven’t seen anything from the franchise since 2016.

The most recent update from the Divergent franchise was in 2016 when a final film to follow up The Divergent Series: Allegiant was canceled and a Starz spin-off was planned instead. Shailene Woodley opted to not take part in the series because it violated her contract that specified the final film would be released in theaters. This, in combination with the pandemic, caused the series to likely be dropped indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the Hunger Games franchise is finding another life with the prequel film The Hunger GamesThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes which is releasing later this year. There’s still demand and interest from fans in the Hunger Games franchise, while Shailene Woodley’s Divergent franchise has been pretty much forgotten. However, the fact that it’s doing so well on streaming right now might mean that people are more interested than the studios assume.

Shailene Woodley seems to have made her stance on returning to the franchise pretty clear, and she might be too busy to come back to the role anyway. Woodley has plenty of projects planned for the near future including the drama To Catch a Killer, the comedy Robots, the Gamestop stock movie Dumb Money, and Michael Mann’s Ferrari. While we wait for those projects, you can revisit her breakout role now on HBO Max.