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Post-'Twilight,' EW Lays Claim to New YA Movie Traffic Booster, 'Divergent,' Starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood June 20, 2013 at 1:43PM

The "Twilight" franchise is over, and "Hunger Games" is spawning more would-be young adult novel-turned-movie-franchises. Entertainment Weekly is pushing what could (or could not) be the next big YA craze on their cover this week: "Divergent." Based on Veronica Roth's novel of the same title, the film takes place in a dystopian Chicago where society is split into five factions; when kids turn 16, they take a test to determine which of the factions they're best suited for. Stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James, along with director Neil Burger, sat down with EW to talk the new film, which hits theaters March 21, 2014. Highlights below.
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Cover detail from Entertainment Weekly's June 28, 2013, issue
Cover detail from Entertainment Weekly's June 28, 2013, issue

The "Twilight" franchise is over, and "Hunger Games" is spawning more would-be young adult novel-turned-movie-franchises. Entertainment Weekly is pushing what could (or could not) be the next big YA craze on their cover this week: "Divergent." 

Based on Veronica Roth's novel of the same title, the film takes place in a dystopian Chicago where society is split into five factions; when kids turn 16, they take a test to determine which of the factions they're best suited for. Stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James, along with director Neil Burger, sat down with EW to talk the new film, which hits theaters March 21, 2014. Highlights below.

Summit, the company who foresaw the dollar signs in "Twilight," picked up the title early on. Credit Lionsgate/Summit production chief Erik Feig if they deliver the goods on this one. They also have sci-fi title "Ender's Game," which celebrates impossibly young warriors preparing for an imminent alien invasion. Think Starfleet the Younger Generation.

Our TOH! update on "Divergent"'s film's sprawling cast, which includes Kate Winslet and Ashley Judd, is here.

Burger on filming on-location in Chicago:

"Every movie these days they’re like, ‘Let’s shoot this in Canada or Louisiana or Romania because it’s cheaper.' I didn’t want digital landscapes or CGI skylines. This is great for the story and it’s great for Chicago and it’s great for the movie.”

Woodley, who was recently cut from "Amazing Spider-Man 2," on the pressure that looms once signing with a franchise:

“I actually forget there’s a fan base. But then I’ll talk to a publicist who’ll say, ‘If this turns out to be a Twilight or a Hunger Games, this or that might happen.’... But you can’t think like that. My agents were like, ‘Are you f---ing crazy?’ But I said if this movie is successful, things will change and I don’t want that. After [Secret Life of the American Teenager] I never want to sign a contract for more than a year again. It’s a big part of your life and once you sign...”

And Theo James on franchises:

“A fan base is kind of fun and exciting—it means people are invested emotionally. But—and everyone probably says this—you can’t buy into the hype because then you’re f---ed. Also, I’m a big believer of it’s not something till it’s something. You know? There’s no guarantee of anything.”


Will he be in "Insurgent," the not yet greenlit second film in the trilogy?

“I think I am? Can you let me know if you find out?”

Woodley on responding to her character Tris' non-Katniss Everdeen qualities:
"What I like about Tris is that she isn’t perfect. She’s not a superhero—she’s not Katniss. She doesn’t know how to shoot a bow and arrow, she’s not a badass by nature. And I really responded to her and Four’s relationship. It’s authentic and human and genuine.”

This article is related to: Interviews, Entertainment Weekly, Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Neil Burger, Divergent


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.