Bad news for fans looking forward to the final Divergent film on the big screen.
Variety reports today that Ascendant — the fourth and last of the The Divergent Series film adaptations — may not open in theaters. Instead, Lionsgate is planning for the sequel to air as a TV movie before the franchise is spun off into a full television series.
Negotiations are reportedly in early stages, and it's yet unclear if Shailene Woodley and her co-stars Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort would return to star. Ascendant was originally scheduled for release in June 2017. Lionsgate declined to comment to BuzzFeed News.
It is highly unusual — if not unprecedented — for a final installment of a major multi-movie franchise to skip theaters and head straight to the small screen. The move likely came as a consequence of the series' performance at the box office. The Divergent Series sequel Allegiant, which was released March 16 this year, made only $66 million, a steep plummet from the $150 million the first film, Divergent, earned in 2014 and the $130 million Insurgent grossed in 2015 on their opening nights.
The latest news around Divergent may be another example of diminishing returns among YA adaptations to theaters. The Hunger Games franchise started out strong: The first 2012 film grossed $408 million at the domestic box office, and the second installment Catching Fire made $424 million the following year. However, the last Hunger Games book (of three) was split into two parts and Mockingjay — Part 1 earned $337 million in 2014 and Mockingjay — Part 2 made it across the finish line with $281 million. As for an ongoing franchise, The Maze Runner made $102 million since its release in 2014, but the series' earnings have only further dwindled, with 2015's Scorch Trials taking home $81 million.
Speaking to press at San Diego Comic-Con on July 21, Woodley said the possibility of Ascendant going straight-to-TV was news to her. “Honestly, I was on a plane when all that happened and I landed, and I’m like ‘Whoa, what’s going on?'” she said, according to Deadline.
Woodley would not say if she'd return as the hero Tris in Ascendant were it to be developed as a TV movie or series, only noting, "I need to talk and find out what the details are."
In an interview with Screen Rant, Woodley revealed she isn't keen on starring in a TV continuation of Ascendant. "I didn’t sign up to be in a television show," she told reporters. "Out of respect to the studio and everyone in involved, they may have changed their mind and may be doing something different, but I’m not necessarily interested in doing a television show."
It's official: Woodley will not be playing Tris in Ascendant, the fourth and final Divergent movie reportedly being developed into a TV movie. "I'm not going to be on the television show," Woodley told Vanity Fair, confirming her exit from the Divergent franchise.