The release of the penultimate entry in The Divergent Series didn’t get off to the best of starts at the US box office with Allegiant taking just over $29 million in its opening weekend. A steep drop from the $50 million plus the previous two instalments commanded with their debuts. Lionsgate remains committed to completing the saga with the finale, Ascendant, scheduled for release next summer. However, while the fourth movie will be made The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that the production budget will be reduced significantly.
Typically each movie in The Divergent Series had a production budget of around $110 million (aside from the first film’s economic $85 million price tag), and that figure had been assigned to Ascendant. The specific budget reduction remains unknown for now, but The Hollywood Reporter’s sources say it will be “several million” at the very least.
Box-office analyst Jeff Bock gave an eloquent explanation of why Allegiant has been so tepidly received by fans of the bestselling books by Veronica Roth.
“It comes down to this: The core of the story is being hollowed out by splitting the final novel [into two parts] and spiraling out of control. Not only is story momentum being truncated, but this type of corporate greed has caused something even more dire than declining grosses — it’s completely destroying the brand name. Ding dong, dystopia is dead. At least in the YA genre.”
Adaptations of Young Adult books aren’t always a licence to print money, The Mortal Instruments, The Giver, The Host and many more all tried and failed to launch successful movie franchises. The Divergent Series isn’t the only active YA franchise that is showing the signs of decline, the second Maze Runner adaptation (The Scorch Trials) took noticeably less that its predecessor. There’s no need to worry about Maze Runner as they cost a lot less to produce than Divergent, so much so that you could make two Maze Runners for the price of Allegiant.
Insurgent and Allegiant director Robert Schwentke won’t be back to helm the finale, Lee Toland Krieger (Age of Adaline) has already been brought in to replace him, and filming is due to start later this year.