'Ascendant' Series in the Works at Starz as 'Divergent' Franchise Moves to TV

Murray Close/Lionsgate


The Divergent franchise is inching closer to continuing on the small screen.

Premium cable network Starz is developing a TV take on Ascendant, which was to be the fourth movie in the Divergent franchise.

Writer Adam Cozad (Tarzan) is attached to pen the script as producers Lionsgate look to its newly acquired full stake in Starz to mine the stalled feature franchise. Cozad will executive produce alongside Lee Toland Krieger (Age of Adaline) after they were both previously set to write and direct what would have been the fourth film in the Divergent franchise. 

Ascendant is in its early stages of development. It's unclear if the project would reunite any of the stars of the films including Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Ansel Elgort. Lionsgate TV and Starz declined comment.

After seeing diminishing box-office returns, Lionsgate opted to first slash the budget on Ascendant before dropping the feature completely. 

Woodley, for her part, has been open to completing the story. The actress, who stars as Tris, initially rejected the idea of doing a TV movie to wrap the franchise. "I signed up to tell the whole story of Tris, and I would love to be able to do that," she said in September. "Nothing would make me happier." Multiple stars are expected to opt out of their deals if the movie evolves into a TV series. 

Ascendant was originally poised to debut June 9 of this year, but after the franchise's third installment, Allegiant grossed a mere $66 million domestically, Lionsgate began to rethink its strategy for the fourth film based on Veronica Roth's book series.
For Lionsgate TV, the Divergent series could be a win for the former independent studio that now has a cable network to supply content. The TV arm recently fought to save ABC’s Nashville at Viacom-owned CMT. The studio’s TV credits include Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black and a Dear White People adaptation as well as E!’s The Royals

Given the Lionsgate deal, Starz is now expected to vertically integrate and focus its upcoming scripted originals on ownership. The cable network recently went straight to series on The Rook, a drama from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, as Starz CEO Chris Albrecht told reporters there would be more Lionsgate-produced fare to come.