Davis: Studio spins out Divergent Series

Young adult novel trilogy gets four-movie treatment to rake in box office receipts.

Shailene Woodley (left)

This time last year, Divergent was released trying to capitalize on the success of The Hunger Games. Like the latter, Divergent was based upon a young adult novel set in a dystopian future with a strong female lead and although it did not reach the same heights, both in entertainment value (although it was still a good popcorn flick) and box office, it was still a financial success.

Since then, stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort have gone on to make the popular drama The Fault in Our Stars and increased their fan base. That, and the success of Divergent on DVD was well as winning Favourite Action Movie at both the Teen Choice Awards and People’s Choice Awards, means the sequel should be more successful than the original.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent continues the story of Tris (Woodley) and Four (Theo James) as they search for allies and answers in the ruins of futuristic Chicago while on the run from the leader of the powerful Erudite faction (Kate Winslet). Racing against time, they must find out why her family sacrificed themselves to protect a truth that the Erudite will do anything to keep secret.

Also returning for the sequel is Miles Teller (Whiplash), Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard), Zoë Kravitz (X-Men: First Class), Maggie Q (TV’s Stalker), Mekhi Phifer and Ashley Judd as Tris’ mother (in flashbacks). Joining the already impressive cast is Octavia Spencer (The Help), Daniel Dae Kim (TV’s Hawaii Five-O) and Naomi Watts (King Kong, Birdman).

Like The Hunger Games, the final book in the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant, will be split into two movies. Part one will be released this time next year and part two will be released in March 2017.

Also opening this weekend is an action thriller that could do for Sean Penn what Taken did for Liam Neeson. In fact, The Gunman is directed by Pierre Morel, who directed Neeson in that blockbuster.

Based upon the novel The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Penn stars as an international operative who wants out of the game so he can settle down with his longtime love. However, the organization he works for has other plans in mind and he is forced to go on the run.

While it has a strong supporting cast including Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Ray Winstone (Noah) and Javier Bardem (Skyfall), it will be interesting to see how well it does, especially after the recent release of movies like American Sniper and Kingsman: The Secret Service and two Neeson action thrillers: Taken 3 and Run All Night.