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Why 'Divergent' Could Be Rare Successful Launch of YA Franchise (NEW VMA TRAILER)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 26, 2013 at 12:41PM

The official first look at footage of upcoming YA would-be franchise "Divergent" was unveiled last night at the MTV Video Music Awards. The film is set for a March 14, 2014 IMAX release. Watch below.
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Shailene Woodley in 'Divergent'
Shailene Woodley in 'Divergent'

The official trailer from upcoming YA would-be franchise "Divergent" was unveiled Sunday night at the MTV Video Music Awards. The film is set for a March 14, 2014 IMAX release. Watch below.

No question that one of the high points of Comic-Con 2013 was the Lionsgate/Summit “Divergent” panel, which debuted the first-ever footage from the film. Directed by Neil Burger ("Limitless"), it’s aimed at the "Twilight" crowd. Casting, which includes Shailene Woodley, Theo James (“Downton Abbey”), Kate Winslet and Maggie Q, is strong.

Not all YA franchises have hit gold like “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” (think cookie cutter “Beautiful Creatures,” or this past weekend’s latest Sony box office underperformer “The Mortal Instruments”). "Divergent," however, could be a winner. One, this more recent book was on bestseller lists for 26 months, followed by a sequel, "Insurgent," that was published last year; a third installment is in the works. Summit knows how to sell to this demo and the elements are attractive indeed.

The film, which wrapped this summer, is set in a much smaller post-cataclysm walled Chicago 100 years in the future and stars Woodley as Triss, who has grown up in one of five factions of society based on a quality: Abnegation (selfless), Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), Dauntless (the brave), and Amity (the peaceful).

For those of you unfamiliar with the books written by Veronica Roth while she was still in college, as a rite of passage to adulthood in this society you have a choice to make: stay in the faction you were raised in and continue to see your family and friends, or choose a new one, for which you will have to pass an aptitude test to prove that you qualify. Once you're in you are committed for life; there's no going back. Our heroine decides to leave Abnegation to become part of Dauntless. 

This new trailer contains snippets of three strong scenes that were shown at greater length at Comic-Con: Triss climbs up to an elevated train trestle, jumps onto a moving train with her group of would-be Dauntless members, and jumps off onto a rooftop. She also is the first to leap into the unknown, where she is received by the hearththrob who becomes her mentor/lover (Theo James). The trailer adds Kate Winslet (as the all-too familiar humorless female authority figure, see Jodie Foster in "Elysium") who reminds our heroine that in this society, being divergent (carrying more than one quality at a time) is not good--and more scope from the movie. 


This article is related to: Video, Video, Divergent, Shailene Woodley, Summit Entertainment, Summit


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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.