Summit’s adaptation of Veronica Roth’s best-selling young adult novel Divergent doesn’t come out until March 21, 2014, but the studio certainly hopes it will be the next franchise to dip into that lucrative market presently dominated by The Hunger Games. They’re certainly high enough on the dystopian thriller to give it a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, where it paired up with their other big science fiction property, Ender’s Game. Our lovely big sister Cinema Blend is all up in Comic-Con’s business, and was fortunate enough to catch everything the panel had to offer.
Moderated by Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick, the gathering began much as you would expect, with introductions of key players, including Roth, director Neil Burger, and actors Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Maggie Q, Mekhi Pheifer, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz, and Miles Teller, though some of the supporting cast comes out later. Roth and Burger discuss the world and setting of Divergent, which takes place more than 100 years in the future, in a Chicago where kids are divided into five different factions based on their dominant personality traits. They deliver some nice details, like how the kids are tested, and that there’s a joining ceremony that involves dripping blood into a bowl.
At this point we’ve only seen set photos from the film, but, much to the delight of the audience, Burger announced that they’ve finished shooting, and that the crowd is about to see the world premiere of a clip. I can only imagine that the scene resembled the crowds on Oprah when she announced she was giving them all brand new cars. The footage features lots of running, fighting, jumping off of trains—the heroine Tris (Woodley) picks the Dauntless, or brave faction, so she must demonstrate that she belongs—and more tattoos and tattooing than you might normally expect from a teen-centric movie. Then again, it is the dystopian future and I’m sure kids get into all sorts of trouble there. It is described as “intense,” and shows a ton of chemistry between Tris and her future boyfriend Four (James). I’m sure that plays well to fans of the book.
Because everything is a trilogy, Roth talked about the third book in the franchise, Allegiant, which is due out this fall. She announced that she’s shifting things up a bit for book three, telling the story from two perspectives—both Tris and Four’s—instead of just the heroine’s. You can’t help but wonder if that means something unfortunate will befall Tris, and we’ll lose her POV for a time, perhaps permanently. You could see her being confined for an extended period, unable to see anything beyond her cell, or even killed. Then again, maybe Roth just wanted to try something else for a change.
The cast banters back and forth for a time, reminiscing about favorite moments and memorable scenes, and joking around, and the fan Q and A begins with a question about comparing the book to the movie. People ask about bits from the books, training, filming, and one hapless sucker even steps up and asks about Ender’s Game, which doesn’t come until later. Things conclude with the cast talking about what parts of their own personalities reflect in their characters, and their parts in general.
Without being able to see the footage for ourselves, we missed out on the most interesting, and definitely the most exciting, bit of the panel. It does sound like Divergent will be suitably action packed and full of angsty teen romance. I’m looking forward to this footage leaking out so we can judge for ourselves. As far as if Tris and Divergent can dethrone Katniss and The Hunger Games, we’ll have to wait until March, 2014. And by that point we’ll have already seen The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, so usurpation may be a moot point. We’re talking more about following in footsteps rather than taking over.