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In a shocking move, Lionsgate is jettisoning the finale of its Divergent Series to the small screen.
Sources say the studio will reconfigure the project, dubbed Ascendant, as a TV movie and position it for a spinoff series, with Lionsgate TV taking the reins on production. Lionsgate declined comment.
Shailene Woodley starred in the first three movies, which never lived up to expectations as the next big YA franchise. It is unclear whether she or her co-stars Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort would return for a TV version, but a source close to the actress wouldn’t rule it out. It’s worth noting that Woodley has made the leap to the small screen with HBO’s upcoming limited series Big Little Lies, but that likely would be a prestige project.
Woodley, who stars in the series as a woman living in a dystopian world where people are into groups based on their priorities, has been approached to join the TV version of Ascendant, but everything at this point is to be determined, with the ultimate network being a major consideration. Lionsgate will begin shopping the project to networks in the coming days. Though Woodley has been approached, other talent that are signed on for the fourth chapter in the franchise have not received word. Sources say many were blindsided by Lionsgate’s plan.
“They haven’t come to us to discuss deals, but if they think they can skimp on actors’ options, they can think again,” said the rep of one of the co-stars.
Agents say they expect very serious negotiations for their clients. But some feel it would set a dangerous precedent if actors simply go along with a move from film to TV. Sources say Lionsgate had an option for all of the main talent for the fourth and final film, but it had a theatrical requirement. This new arrangement would involve complete renegotiations of their contracts.
Ascendant was dated for June 9, 2017, but after the franchise’s third installment, Allegiant, became a box-office dud — earning just $66 million domestically — Lionsgate began to rethink its strategy for the fourth film based on Veronica Roth’s book series. Sources say the stars have not even received a script for the final installment.
For Lionsgate TV, the Divergent series could be a win for the independent studio. The TV arm recently fought to save ABC’s Nashville after the network canceled it and was able to ink the cast — including star Connie Britton — to return for a new season at Viacom-owned CMT. The studio’s other TV credits include Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black and Dear White People adaptation as well as E!’s The Royals.
Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report.
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