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Neil Burger Won't Direct 'Divergent' Sequel 'Insurgent'; Antoine Fuqua To Helm Jesse Owens Biopic

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist December 17, 2013 at 2:39PM

Such is the current cinema culture that a movie can be months away from release and talk and plans will already be underway for a sequel. That goes double for franchise properties, so it's not a shock that Summit Entertainment is already looking beyond their YA series starter "Divergent." Banking on it being a hit, or at least economically successful enough to warrant a followup, and work is already starting on the sequel "Insurgent." But don't expect director Neil Burger to be there.
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Divergent Neil Burger

Such is the current cinema culture that a movie can be months away from release and talk and plans will already be underway for a sequel. That goes double for franchise properties, so it's not a shock that Summit Entertainment is already looking beyond their YA series starter "Divergent." Banking on it being a hit, or at least economically successful enough to warrant a followup, and work is already starting on the sequel "Insurgent." But don't expect director Neil Burger to be there.

Currently in post-production on the first film, since he's unable to clone himself, Burger has opted to excuse himself from sequel duties. But don't worry, everything is cool between the director and the studio, who felt compelled to release the following statement:  “Neil Burger is a rock star and he is doing a fantastic job on 'Divergent.' We can’t wait for you to see the film. But as amazing as Neil is he still cannot be in two places at once and thus needs to finish post production on Divergent while we gear up to start production on 'Insurgent.' So, although Neil will continue on as part of our 'Divergent' family as an executive producer, we sadly have to find another director for the next chapter in Veronica Roth’s fantastic series.”

Meanwhile, from a sequel that needs a director to a biopic that now has one, Disney is taking on a biopic of U.S. Olympic star Jesse Owens and has tapped Antoine Fuqua to helm it. David Seidler ("The King's Speech," "The King And I") will adapt the book "Triumph" by Jeremy Schaap that tells the story of the record breaking runner who thoroughly embarrassed Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Here's the Amazon synopsis: 

At the 1936 Olympics, against a backdrop of swastikas and goose-stepping storm troopers, an African-American son of sharecroppers won a staggering four gold medals and single-handedly demonstrated that Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy was a lie. The story of Jesse Owens at the Berlin games is that of an athletic performance that transcends sports. It is also the intimate and complex tale of one remarkable man's courage. Drawing on unprecedented access to the Owens family, previously unpublished interviews, and exhaustive archival research, Jeremy Schaap transports us to Germany and tells the dramatic tale of Owens and his fellow athletes at the contest dubbed the Nazi Olympics.

With his incisive reporting and rich storytelling, Schaap reveals what really happened over those tense, exhilarating weeks in a nuanced and riveting work of sports history.

No word yet on when this movie is aiming to enter production, but one to keep an eye on for now. Until then, Fuqua's next effort is "The Equalizer" starring Denzel Washington which hits theaters next fall. The first look image of the movie is below, and it's apparently about a man who does all of his killing sitting down. [Deadline/Variety]

The Equalizer Denzel Washington


This article is related to: Neil Burger, Insurgent


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