Where other adaptations tried to set up future movies that would never come (hi The Mortal Instruments), the Divergent series managed three movies and Lionsgate were confident enough to split the final book of Veronica Roth's trilogy into two.
It was a trick that worked for the likes of Twilight, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, but splitting Allegiant into two potentially proved to be the downfall for The Divergent Series, leading to it being cancelled before it finished its story.
So what happened to the planned final movie of the franchise, Ascendant?
Shortly after the release of the first movie, Lionsgate confirmed that they'd be splitting Allegiant into two movies, released in March 2016 and March 2017.
Initially titled The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 and The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 2, the movies were retitled after the release of the sequel to the slightly more manageable The Divergent Series: Allegiant and The Divergent Series: Ascendant.
The first two movies in the franchise didn't exactly set the box office alight, both falling just short of $300 million worldwide, but there seemed no danger that Lionsgate wouldn't proceed with their original plans for the final book.
Production on the fourth and final movie was scheduled for summer 2016, although it hit a stumbling block when director Robert Schwentke decided against returning, reportedly because he needed a break after filming the previous two movies back-to-back.
Lionsgate quickly moved to sign up Lee Toland Krieger for Ascendant and it seemed as though filming would begin as planned.
But things soon started to go wrong when Allegiant underperformed on its opening weekend, leading to reports that Lionsgate were going to cut the budget for Ascendant as a result.
The series was never blessed with stellar reviews, but Allegiant recorded a series-low 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and only managed $179 million at the global box office, more than $100 million off the previous two movies.
However, it seemed as though filming was still going to start on Ascendant that summer, before reports emerged that Lionsgate were instead looking to release it as a TV movie, potentially to spin-off into a standalone TV show set in the same world.
It was news to the stars too.
And yet in August 2017, it was reported that Lionsgate were pushing ahead with a TV adaptation through Starz, which they had just acquired. Krieger and Adam Cozad were said to be developing it, having been attached to Ascendant when it was a movie.
More than a year passed with no news about the planned TV show, before it was confirmed in December 2018 that the series was "no longer in active development", according to a Starz spokesperson (via Buzzfeed News).
No reason was given as to why the TV adaptation of Ascendant stalled, but it wouldn't be a stretch to say that the lack of interest from the Divergent cast to return for the TV show meant a continuation of the series just didn't make sense.
In 2018, Woodley said that working on Allegiant a "hard experience for everyone" and led her to find something that would make her "fall in love with acting again", which ended up being Big Little Lies.
It seems that Lionsgate rushed development on the Divergent series in the wake of their success with The Hunger Games and Twilight, which wouldn't have helped its critical response or box-office performance.
"Maybe we rushed the third movie a bit instead of taking our time with it," Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said in response to the underperformance. "We wanted to hit a date."
It's hard to know if spacing out the franchise more would have helped it, but it could be that Divergent was doomed to end on a cliffhanger the moment it was decided to split the final book into two.
Even The Hunger Games experienced diminishing returns after doing the same for Mockingjay, and Divergent was never at the box office level of even those later movies when it started out.
But who knows, maybe one day, the series will get a second life – just don't expect a resolution to Allegiant's cliffhanger.
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