Allegiant split

Harry Potter did it, Twilight did it, The Hunger Games is doing it, and now Divergent is, too. Lionsgate/Summit announced today they are splitting the final chapter of the Divergent series, Allegiant, into two films, to the surprise of absolutely no one. The decision brings the total number of installments in the series to four. New release dates and more about the Allegiant split the jump.

Divergent only opened last month, but dates for the sequel were set last year. Allegiant Part 1 will take the March 18, 2016 opening that was originally supposed to go to Allegiant, while Allegiant Part 2 will follow a year later on March 24, 2017. (The changes don’t affect the release of next year’s Insurgent, which is still bowing March 20, 2015.) The two halves of Allegiant will be shot separately, rather than back-to-back.

Lionsgate co-chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger explained the decision in a statement. “The storytelling arc and world of the characters lend themselves perfectly to two films, a storytelling strategy that has worked very well for us on the two Twilight Breaking Dawn films and about which we’re tremendously enthusiastic for the two upcoming Mockingjay films of The Hunger Games franchise,” they said.

In other words: We made tons of money pulling this maneuver with The Twilight Saga and we expect to make tons more repeating it with The Hunger Games, so of course we’re going to do it again for Divergent.

Divergent wasn’t quite a Hunger Games-sized hit, but with a worldwide gross of $139 million so far and counting, it did well enough to get Lionsgate excited. Robert Schwentke (Red) is directing Insurgent from a script by Akiva Goldsman and Brian Duffield

All four movies are based on Veronica Roth‘s trilogy of books, which unfold in a dystopian version of Chicago. Shailene Woodley leads the series as Tris, a 16-year-old who doesn’t quite fit into any of her community’s “factions.” Soon, she discovers that this very fact gives her the power to change society forever.

Here’s the full press release:

Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company, will produce and release Allegiant, starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James and based on the third book in Veronica Roth’s best-sellingDivergent trilogy, as two separate films, it was announced today by Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger.  The Company will release a total of four Divergent films on its Summit Entertainment label, with the next film,Insurgent, which begins production next month, slated for release on March 20, 2015 andAllegiant – Parts 1 & 2 scheduled for release on March 18, 2016, and March 24, 2017, respectively.

The first film in the Divergent franchise is off to a fast start, grossing $117 million at the domestic box office in its first three weeks of release, and it continues its international rollout this weekend with openings in France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Scandinavia and other major territories.  Book sales of the best-selling Divergent series continue to skyrocket with total sales nearing 20 million worldwide and sales of the three-book boxed set and three-book e-bundle increasing 55% last week.  The three books ranked one-two-three on the USA Today best-seller list for 2013. 

“Veronica Roth brings her captivating story to a masterful conclusion in Allegiant, a rich, action-packed book with material that is ideally suited to two strong and fulfilling movies,” said Friedman and Wachsberger.  “The storytelling arc and world of the characters lend themselves perfectly to two films, a storytelling strategy that has worked very well for us on the two Twilight Breaking Dawn films and about which we’re tremendously enthusiastic for the two upcoming Mockingjay films of The Hunger Games franchise.”

The Company’s The Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga franchises have collectively grossed more than $5 billion at the worldwide box office, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the 10th highest-grossing film of all time.  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Parts 1 & 2 will be released on November 21, 2014 and November 20, 2015, respectively.

After the cataclysmic events in Insurgent, Tris and Four enter a dangerous new world inAllegiant — Parts 1 & 2 that they no longer recognize.  As new truths are revealed about the past and future, Tris must face impossible choices about courage, allegiance and love to protect the people closest to her.

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