The Divergent Series returns to the big screen this month crackling with epic action scenes, spectacular vistas and unexpected twists. The latest film in the series, Allegiant follows Tris, Four and their comrades as they escape the walled city of Chicago and embark on their most astonishing adventure yet.
The final instalment of the Divergent book series, Allegiant set a HarperCollins pre-order sales records record prior to its publication in 2013 and sold 455,000 copies on its first day. Collectively, the trilogy has sold more than 37 million copies and spent months atop the New York Times, Apple’s iBooks and Amazon best-seller lists.
Devoted Divergent readers also turned out en masse for the first two film adaptations, helping fuel worldwide ticket sales of $586 million. To satisfy expectations for the trilogy’s fan base, the filmmakers decided to divide the 544-page trilogy conclusion into two separate films, with the climactic Ascendant set for release in 2017.
So as we head into the two part finale with Allegiant, we were excited to learn a little more – no spoilers we promise – about what can we expect from the filmmakers and stars.
“After two hit movies, we’ve seen a lot of Chicago and spent time with all the different factions, so we believed the filmmakers, the audience and the actors were all ready to go to a different world,” says producer Douglas Wick (Gladiator and both Insurgent and Divergent). “Cinematically and story-wise, it feels great to go over the wall for some answers: What’s outside the city? Why do the factions exist? Who’s behind it all? What does being Divergent truly mean?”
Shailene Woodley, too, relished the challenge of pushing her character toward new horizons. “When we first met Tris in Divergent, she empowered herself,” says the actress. “In Insurgent, she’s guilt-ridden and winds up being betrayed by her brother Caleb. In Allegiant, Tris goes outside of Chicago because she feels like it’s part of her destiny.”
Theo James, whose portrayal of Four in the first two films has made him a worldwide heartthrob, enjoyed seeing his and Woodley’s characters tested in a challenging new environment. “Tris and Four have gone through so much together, fighting and losing people they care about,” says James. “They feel like there must be something better out there, and they’re both keen to discover something new. Also, they want answers to the riddle that’s at the heart of the book series and the movies: What happened to the planet and why?”
The man who evidently knows the answers to those questions is David, the visionary leader of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, played by Golden Globe-nominated actor Jeff Daniels. “This genetics experiment that is Chicago has had some disastrous consequences,” Daniels explains. “But this is David’s life’s work. Nothing and no one will get in the way of that.”
The addition of an actor of Daniels’ calibre turned out to be a career high-point for Woodley. “It was great to act with Jeff Daniels,” she says. “Besides being incredibly professional, Jeff put a lot of his soul and spirit into this character. Also, it was nice to have a male antagonist. In the past, we only had female antagonists. Playing David, Jeff brings a different kind of dynamic to the story. You don’t quite know what his agenda is or what fuels him. At the end of this film, David leaves you wondering what he’s going to do in the next one."
With Oscar-nominated actresses Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer also returning and the promise from director Robert Schwentke (Insurgent, The Time Traveler’s Wife) of immersing audiences in the world beyond Chicago by filling the screen with grander visual effects, more monumental vistas and more exciting action sequences than anything featured in the previous films, we are excited to once again enter the dystopian Divergent world.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is out at Showcase Cinemas March 10 in both 2D and IMAX