After the new broke, Summit released a statement to explain Burger’s decision to not helm the sequel. The studio blames the film’s tight production schedule.
Divergent, which stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James, is scheduled for release on March 21, 2014. The sequel is slated to hit theaters just one year later, on March 20, 2015. The third book based on Veronica Roth‘s popular YA series, Allegiant, was recently slated for release on March 18, 2016.
“Neil Burger is a rock star and he is doing a fantastic job on Divergent. We can’t wait for you to see the film,” said the statement. “But as amazing as Neil is he still cannot be in two places at once and thus needs to finish postproduction on Divergent while we gear up to start production on Insurgent. So, although Neil will continue on as part of our Divergent family as an executive producer, we sadly have to find another director for the next chapter in Veronica Roth’s fantastic series.”
Burger’s decision echoes what happened with The Hunger Games director Gary Ross, who, after helming the first YA pic, decided not to return because of the fast pace of production needed for the sequel, Catching Fire. Francis Lawrence stepped in for the sequel, and will also helm the third and fourth films in the franchise.
Roth’s novel is also a postapocalyptic tale. It centers on a society where people are divided into groups based on certain values. Woodley and James’ characters are in the Dauntless group, which values bravery, but Woodley’s character soon discovers she has a rare quality which allows her to fit into more than one group.