There is some potentially disappointing, and possibly embarrassing, news about the final installment of the Divergent series, Ascendant. Due to the lackluster performance of Allegiant, the third theatrical release in the franchise, it looks like there will be a ‘Straight-to-TV’ release for Ascendant. Nothing has been confirmed yet but the likelihood of a small-screen debut is looking very strong.
The Divergent movie series, based on the book series of the same name by Veronica Roth, started out quite strong. The first two films, Divergent and Insurgent, were both very well-received and considered box office hits. However, the third film, Allegiant, was heavily criticized and tanked at the box office. Lionsgate made the decision to split the final book into two films to follow the trend of previous franchises such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, but this franchise was not nearly as successful at this strategy and many fans criticized the decision.
In order to combat the expected dismal response to the final installment, Lionsgate believes the best option is to make Ascendant a TV movie with the possibility of spinning off a new television series. The potential spinoff series is what the studio is really hinging the success of a TV film on. Not much is known about the potential TV series but it is being pitched in the following way: The movie will wrap up the current storyline with the current characters while introducing an entirely new cast of characters that would transition to the television series. It has not been announced if any of the current cast would actually return for the TV movie. In fact, Shailene Woodley, whom portrays main character Tris Prior, heard about the possibility of a TV movie at the same time we all did. According to an interview she gave while at Comic-Con, the actress said “Honestly, I was on a plane when all that happened, and I landed, and I’m like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?'” We do know that filming was scheduled to start last month but has been pushed back indefinitely until final decisions are made.
In my opinion, this is not good news for the Divergent franchise. I actually think it is doing a disservice to not only the fans of the series but also the actors involved. I am much more in favor of regrouping and figuring out what did not work for Allegiant. The fans are crucial in this aspect. This is why blogs like Sister Geeks exist. The fans are the ones that will determine a movie’s level of success. You must listen to them to make sure you get it right. Especially for a series adapted from another form of media…you must stay true to the original version! Too many times, filmmakers take too many creative liberties and end up completely losing the essence of the story. I think this is what happened with the Divergent series. Honestly, Divergent was already at a disadvantage due to the fact that it is very similar to blockbuster franchises like The Hunger Games. It has to be done incredibly well to stand out. Allegiant was not at the level of quality needed. The film should never have been split. The story did not support a mid-story split. And splitting it really ran the risk of dragging it out past it’s entertainment expiration date. People are starting to move on from the dystopian genre and the window of public interest is quickly closing.
So now they run the calculated risk of releasing on the small-screen with the hope that a TV series draws new interest. It’s not the first time we have seen this strategy. The bigwigs refused to give up on The Mortal Instruments series and released the TV version, Shadowhunters, this year to give it another try and they scored a second season. For a real throwback, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer started out as a movie that bombed and was later turned into a cult classic. So there is a chance this will work out. But I am not holding my breath. We will just have to wait and see.
What do you think of Ascendant being scheduled as a TV movie? Will you watch it? What about the potential spinoff TV series?