After dwindling box office returns, Lionsgate made the surprising move last summer to yank the final Divergent movie, Ascendant, from theaters, instead opting to air it as a TV movie that leads into a new spin-off series, and now it finally has a new home. Lionsgate's new TV subsidiary Starz, which the studio purchased last year for a whopping $4.4 billion, will be developing Ascendant, which is still in the very early stages at this time, although the writer and director who were originally working on the final movie, are still aboard the project.
Deadline reports that director Lee Toland Krieger (The Age of Adaline) and writer Adam Cozad (The Legend of Tarzan) are both slated to return in the same roles they had on the original Ascendant movie, with both also slated to executive produce. As of now, no story details have been released, although this report claims that it would be a "possibility" to bring back the cast of the movie trilogy, to bring their character arcs to an end, before the new spin-off series gets under way. Still, with that being said, it seems unlikely that primary star Shailene Woodley will be back as Tris Prior.
The news of the Divergent movie franchise switching to the small screen came as a surprise to Shailene Woodley, who has revealed on several occasions, most recently this February, that she has no interest in joining a TV series, adding that the entire cast had "every intention" of finishing the story theatrically with a fourth and final movie. Last March, just months before the announcement that the final Divergent movie will head to the small screen, we reported that Lionsgate had slashed the budget for the fourth film, after the third movie in the franchise, Allegiant, dropped off sharply from its predecessor, Insurgent.
The YA sci-fi franchise got off to a solid start in 2014 with Divergent, which earned $150.9 million domestic and $288.8 million worldwide, from an $85 million budget. The 2015 follow-up Allegiant, which brought in some new franchise additions like Naomi Watts as Evelyn, suffered a slight drop domestically ($130.1 million) but earned a bit more internationally ($167 million) for a worldwide total of $297.2 million. However, last year's Allegiant seemed to fall off the rails, earning just $66.1 million domestically and $113 million internationally for a worldwide total of $179.2 million, from an undisclosed budget, which may have been the result of the studio splitting the last book in Veronica Roth's YA trilogy into two movies, a once-popular practice that has fallen by the wayside . Still, even despite the drastic box office drop-off, cancelling the theatrical release of the franchise finale came as quite the shock to many.
It will likely be quite some time until we know what cast members are coming back, if any, but most of these stars may be too busy to return, such as Keiynan Lonsdale, who returns as Wally West in Season 4 of The CW's hit superhero series The Flash. Naomi Watts recently debuted her new Netflix series Gypsy, while Ansel Elgort, who played Tris Prior's brother Caleb, is coming off a hit movie of his own, Edgar Wright's Baby Driver. It will likely be quite some time until all of the details are hammered out for this Ascendant TV series, but it seems clear that Lionsgate is sticking to its guns and turning this final theatrical movie into a TV movie that spawns a new original spin-off series.