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Will There Ever Be A Divergent 4?

When the Divergent series arrived in theaters back in 2014, it seemed to have a promising future. A compelling story of a dystopian world, the film also featured a young hero who audiences could easily root for, as she fought against an oppressive system. The same formula had worked for other franchises like The Hunger Games, so it seemed like Lionsgate would have a winner with the Shailene Woodley-starring film, which also partnered her up with Theo James and Ansel Elgort.  

Directed by Neil Burger, Divergent established an interesting post-apocalyptic Chicago, where society is divided into different factions depending on which virtue they associate with the most (think The Hunger Games' class system crossed with the Hogwarts houses). The film followed Shailene Woodley's Beatrice – or Tris, as she later calls herself — as she joins the Dauntless faction, made up of the braver citizens in dystopian Chicago. However, her genetics mean that she's a Divergent, so she has a number of attributes from different factions. Specifically, she's simultaneously intellectual, selfless, and brave — pretty useful traits to have when you're going up against a fascist state, eh? 

The first film wasn't a roaring success, but it made $288 million on its $85 million budget, which in Lionsgate's eyes was enough to warrant a sequel based on the next book in Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy ... which is the point where, unfortunately, the franchise started to show signs that it wasn't going to last.

Insurgent and Allegiant didn't go as planned

Robert Schwentke took the helm for the sequel, called Insurgent, with the story following Tris and her boyfriend Four being pursued by Jeanine and the rest of her faction. Did we mention Kate Winslet is the villain hunting our plucky hero? The series definitely didn't make the most of having her onboard. Either way, the sequel's debut suggested that audiences weren't quite sold on another 'chosen-one' styled franchise so soon after The Hunger Games had wrapped up its four-film arc: It made roughly the same profit as the first film, scraping in $297 million on a $110 million budget, but critics weren't as kind this time around. Insurgent was blasted for being too generic, with Empire's Helen O'Hara praising Shailene Woodley's performance but calling the plot "one-note." 

However, because Insurgent was filmed back-to-back with the next installment, Allegiant, the franchise continued to stumble on ... albeit briefly.

By the time Allegiant arrived in 2016, audiences were barely interested in the Divergent series, and its story — which now involved the outside world, and the secrets behind the walled-off cities. Allegiant was a disappointing flop, making just $179 million worldwide. The next film, titled Ascendant, looked to be in trouble, but for months after Allegiant's debut, the fourth chapter seemed to be going ahead — that was, until Variety reported the film would instead debut as a TV movie with a spin-off series also in the works. Hardly the best way to finish off a franchise.

A disappointing end

After the diminishing returns on The Divergent Series, Lionsgate was clearly not convinced that a final film in the franchise could make up for the millions the studio had lost making the first three chapters. Soon after the TV news broke, the actors leading the film quickly abandoned ship. Theo James expressed his disappointment in an interview with TooFab, "I think it's a shame that we can't finish the story, but I think it's evolving in a place where the actors that have been in the three movies probably won't be in whatever it evolves to in the future."

Shailene Woodley officially left the fourth film in February 2017, after previously slamming the TV idea, and that was the final nail in the Ascendant coffin. Surprisingly, a TV project was still in the works for quite some time, remaining in development until then end of 2019. To be fair, while the Divergent series didn't break any box office records, it was still a relatively lucrative property ($765 million in total) which would also come with a pre-established fanbase if the franchise continued in another form.

So, Divergent 4, AKA Ascendant, will probably never see the light of day, after the studio's disappointment with the franchise, and the cast's disheartened reaction to being shifted over to TV. But that's not to say Tris and Four couldn't return in the future. After all, this is the age of reboots finding new life at streaming services. Who knows? A reimagined Divergent could be the next big show that we obsess over each week, like WandaVision or The Mandalorian. For now, though, maybe it's best to go read Veronica Roth's original books, if you want to know how it all ends.