So as I left on my trip, Variety dropped a bomb on the Divergent Series – that the final movie, Ascendant, which was split off from the final Allegiant novel, will instead be turned by Lionsgate into a TV movie which will lead into a spinoff TV series. No specific outlet for the movie or series was named. The move was likely spurred by the disappointing box office on Allegiant after two successful films.
This has put everything into question for the conclusion of the franchise, however. We understand that negotiations are underway, but it appears that the cast was caught by surprise by the news, with several under the assumption that they will not be involved further or even knowing anything about it beyond the Variety report.
We don’t know the specifics of the existing cast contracts, but they may not allow for a TV movie and certainly not a series. Thus every cast member they wish to retain would need to be renegotiated. This could get expensive since the actors would be in the driving seat in negotiations unless Lionsgate is willing to recast – and that could lose audience even further. Plus, a TV movie’s budget is likely going to be much more restricted, and if used as a backdoor pilot for the series, would likely have to hand the reigns over to the series cast.
This appears to show the risks involved with studios wanting franchises instead of standalone tentpole movies. After the massive successes of Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Harry Potter, The Humger Games and all Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the resurgence of Star Wars and Star Trek, studios are looking for the Next Big Thing and making extended plans for unproven adaptations. Divergent and The Maze Runner come immediately to mind, and Warner Bros has struggled with the DC Comics universe.