By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 16, 2013 at 8:58PM
Before the first "Divergent" film has opened (March 21, 2014), Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment has tipped its commitment to a would-be Young Adult franchise by scheduling "Allegiant," the third film adaptation of Veronica Roth's bestselling "Divergent" trilogy, to open wide on March 18, 2016. "Insurgent," the second film which is being written by Brian Duffield ("Jane Has Got a Gun"), will come to theaters on March 20, 2015--but director Neil Burger won't be aboard. Word is that Burger is finishing up the detailed post-production VFX process, which will take him right up to the opening of the film in March – with no time to prep for an "Insurgent" shoot based on the studio’s typically hurried timeframe. "Twilight" first-timer Catherine Hardwicke and "Hunger Games"' Gary Ross also didn't make the rushed segue to a second franchise installment.
Another way to look at it: Summit was unwilling to commit to Burger before waiting to see how the first one fares with critics and audiences. (By contrast they were confident enough to assign the last "Hunger Games" sequels to Francis Lawrence before "Catching Fire" had finished shooting.) Burger told Entertainment Weekly last summer, when asked if he was doing "Insurgent": "I think I am?"
The first romantic dystopian sci-fi adventure stars Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet and Theo James and is produced by Red Wagon Entertainment's Lucy Fisher, Pouya Shahbazian, and Doug Wick. "Divergent" also stars Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Zoe Kravitz and Jai Courtney.
TOH! got to scope out early footage of "Divergent" at this past summer's Comic-Con. For those of you unfamiliar with the books written by Roth while she was still in college, in this dystopian world, to make the rite of passage to adulthood you have a choice to make: stay in the faction you were raised in and continue 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 Triss (Woodley) decides to leave her Selfless faction to become part of Dauntless. "Triss is a real girl who's forced to find herself," Woodley said. "She has to rise to the occasion and find the courage to help others around her as well as herself."
The footage at Comic-Con was compelling: it shows Triss facing the challenge of climbing a trellis to a subway platform, jumping onto a moving train, and leaping off into a seventh story rooftop. (The production built the train and elevated tracks, director Burger said, to make it look as real as possible. "She climbed it for real.") Then she must dive into a hole below--not knowing that a net will break her fall. At the bottom is Four, played by "Golden Boy" Brit actor James. While he holds the screen, he was quite charismatic and commanding on the Comic-Con stage as well. James described his character as an "old-fashioned man with a centered sense of the masculine. He's not afraid to state what he's afraid of. Everyone's afraid of something." The movie is about "choosing who you want to be."
The next question for Summit is who they want their next director to be.