Shailene Woodley may have poked something of a hole in the young adult bubble this week, as she pointed out that she didn’t sign up to be in a Divergent TV show.
Her comments, made in a recent interview with Screen Rant, mark an interesting milestone in the changing landscape of TV, film and young adult media. In recent years, TV has been hailed as entering a golden age – a perception that is intrinsically linked to the rise of streaming services, which have not only made more TV series readily accessible, but also sparked a wave of prestige titles, as they each invest heavily in original programming.
As a result, a growing number of movies are spinning off into small-screen franchises. So when Lionsgate’s big-screen adaptation of the Divergent novels diverged from their financial expectations, the small-screen perhaps seemed like a natural way to wrap things up.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter back in July that the project would be reconfigured as a TV movie, which could then open up windows for spin-offseries. Lionsgate, perhaps more than most, is already well aware of the potential within both the young adult and TV markets: the studio acquired Summit Entertainment years ago, making it the home of the Twilight saga, before enjoying another success with The Hunger Games. It has also invested heavily in projects involving YouTube stars, such as Smosh.
Indeed, the world of online video is an increasingly competitive arena, with YouTube already lining up its own original projects as exclusive titles for its subscription service, YouTube Red. The latest? A young adult dystopian thriller, The Thinning, which is already being compared to The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Hunger Games and more.
While Lionsgate may like the idea of bringing the Divergent series to a captive audience of young TV watchers, buouyed by the presence of stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort, Woodley has now made it clear that she may not be on board. Indeed, she’s already attached an HBO series, Big Little Lies, which would fit in the prestigious mould of the network’s output rather than the teen-targeted young adult franchises of YouTube and others.
“Out of respect to the studio and everyone involved, they may have changed their mind and may be doing something different, but I’m not necessarily interested in doing a television show,” she said in an interview with ScreenRant.
Her comments follow the series’ third entry, Allegiant, making just $66 million on home soil in cinemas, a disappointing performance that prompted Lionsgate’s rethink about Ascendant, the fourth and final chapter.
Teller, meanwhile, has also been cagey on the switch in focus, telling The Hollywood Reporter at the War Dogs premiere recently that it “caught us all by surprise”.
“At this point, it’s a different set of circumstances,” he said of whether he would reprise his role. “We’ll see. I honestly haven’t talked to anybody.”
“Things do change anytime they’re messing with something that was not the original intention. We all signed on for it in hopes that it’d be released in theaters, and we all had every intention of finishing.”