Divergent Series: Ascendant – Why The Final Movie Was Canceled



The Divergent Series: Ascendant was supposed to wrap up the franchise with a TV movie. Here is why the final Divergent movie was canceled.

The Divergent Series: Ascendant was supposed to wrap up the sci-fi saga but was eventually abandoned, and here is why that cancellation occurred. Following the huge success of The Hunger Games franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence, there was a short-lived fad of movie adaptations of young adult sci-fi novels. These included The Maze Runner trilogy and The Divergent Series. Based on the best-selling YA novels by Veronica Roth, the Divergent series featured a great cast of up-and-coming actors, including Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz, and Bill Skarsgard. The series is set in a futuristic society where people are divided into factions based on their virtues: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite.

The main character Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley) learns she is a Divergent — meaning she has multiple attributes and will never fit into just one faction. This forces her to conceal her status and avoid becoming a target. Divergent‘s unique premise was well-received both by critics and at the box office. However, while Divergent and its sequel The Divergent Series: Insurgent were solid hits, they did not reach the same heights as The Hunger Games, and the future of the franchise was inevitably put into question following the underwhelming performance of The Divergent Series: Allegiant in 2016.

Related: What The Divergent TV Movie Means For YA Properties

Supposedly, the franchise would have ended with a fourth film in 2017, but after the financial disappointment of The Divergent Series: Allegiant, the plans to wrap up the saga shifted to a TV movie The Divergent Series: Ascendant, in lieu of a theatrical conclusion. This would have introduced new characters and set up a television series revolving around storylines no longer found in the books. Unfortunately, those plans did not come to fruition, so what happened?

The Divergent Series: Ascendant TV Movie Was A Response To The Box-Office Of Allegiant

Allegiant - Zoë Kravitz, Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, and Miles Teller

Prior to the release of The Divergent Series: Allegiant, there were already signs that the general public’s interest in the franchise was waning. The second movie only topped the original’s total gross by a tiny margin, and audience interest in YA movies in general appeared to be shrinking rapidly. This downward trend was confirmed by the poor box office of Allegiant, which grossed less than $180 million worldwide, a staggeringly low sum compared to the almost $300 million Insurgent made the year before.

Since The Divergent Series: Allegiant split the final book in Roth’s trilogy into two films, the final movie’s production was supposed to begin after its predecessor hit theaters. The meager financial returns of Allegiant halted those plans, and in July 2016, it was announced that a TV movie would instead wrap up the story. The cast response to this was far from enthusiastic, with Shailene Woodley stating she did not sign up for a TV movie and doubted she would return. Co-stars Theo James and Miles Teller later ruled out a TV movie return too.

Related: Miles Teller Not Doing Allegiant TV Movie

The Divergent Series: Ascendant Was Canceled In 2018

Divergent Series Allegiant Poster

None of the Divergent cast was interested in making the jump from three big-budget blockbusters to a TV movie, let alone one that acted as a pilot for a potential series. Although Woodley wanted to return to complete Tris’ story, she only expressed willingness for a theatrical movie. The actress later admitted how disappointed she was with the saga’s ending that she even considered quitting acting entirely. This similar lack of interest from the original cast eventually killed The Divergent Series: Ascendant in 2018, after years of development. Cast members like Teller and Kravitz were already moving on to bigger roles and projects, so the odds of convincing them to return were always slim.

After all, while The Divergent Series: Ascendant would have provided closure to the story, making it a TV movie would have been an acknowledgment the series had failed on the big screen. If anything, this reveals how the fans were shortchanged of a fitting conclusion to the franchise and proves The Divergent Series: Allegiant should not have split the final book in two.

The Divergent Series’ Possible Future

Divergent Allegiant Movie TV Lionsgate

With multiple new streaming services popping up in just the years since Allegiant was released, Hollywood’s hunger for new content does not look to be abating anytime soon. While it seems like The Divergent Series: Ascendant is unlikely to ever be revived as a project, Hollywood loves a known brand name with an established fan base, and it will be difficult to imagine the Divergent franchise not returning to the screen in some form down the line. So, even though Summit Entertainment, which owns the rights to the franchise, will not be reviving the sci-fi saga anytime soon, that does not mean that the property will be dead forever. After all, the Divergent movies were still profitable, making over $765 million worldwide.

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