With the success of The Hunger Games film franchise, Lionsgate is positioning another YA property to pick up the slack once the last Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay – Part Two, is released next year. The would-be franchise starter Divergent will hit theaters this spring, but the studio is already looking to start production on its sequel before box office revenue could be counted. Insurgent is the next book in Veronica Roth’s best-selling young adult book series, so Lionsgate tapped a proven screenwriter to bring the book to life on the big screen.
According to THR, Lionsgate hired screenwriter Akiva Goldsman to write the screenplay for Insurgent, which might be awkwardly re-titled as Divergent: Insurgent. Despite writing both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, Akiva Goldsman won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for A Beautiful Mind in 2001. Goldsman went on to work with director Ron Howard on the films Cinderella Man and The Da Vinci Code.
This isn’t the first time a high-profile screenwriter has tackled a young adult film adaptation. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt wrote The Hunger Games: Catching Fire under the pseudonym Michael DeBruyn, which he also used to write Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion. Emmy Award-winning writer Danny Strong wrote both parts of the upcoming new Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay.
Divergent‘s director Neil Burger recently announced that he will not return to direct its sequel, so Lionsgate is currently looking for someone to fill his seat. Hiring Akiva Goldsman is just one part of getting a new production team in place to start shooting Insurgent soon.
It remains to be seen if Divergent will become the next Hunger Games or Twilight, or fumble as a non-starter like Beautiful Creatures and The Golden Compass. Lionsgate has released new trailers and images from Divergent, but I remain completely unsold on the film based on the terrible clip released last month. It features the film’s lead, Shailene Woodley, and Theo James in a very awkward and laughable scene. If that’s just a taste of what we’ll get in Divergent, there’s no hope that the movie will be any good.
Divergent is set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, where people are separated into five distinct factions: Amity, Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. Its citizens are divided based on dominant personality traits, but some are unique and cannot be classified. These people are called “Divergent” and have no place in society. The story follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior, who is discovered to be Divergent and must figure out how to stay alive.
Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Vanessa Taylor (Hope Springs) co-wrote the screenplay, while Neil Burger (Limitless) directed the film. Divergent stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Tony Goldwyn, Ashley Judd, and Mekhi Phifer.
Divergent will hit theaters everywhere on March 21, in IMAX, while Insurgent will open wide on March 20, 2015. The last film in the series, Allegiant, is set for release on March 18, 2016.