Final “Divergent” To Get Budget Cuts

Audiences seem to have had enough of wannabe young adult franchises and the unnecessary splitting of final entries in a series.

“Allegiant,” the third film in Lionsgate’s “Divergent” series, opened this past weekend in the U.S. to $29 million, 44% down on the low $50 million openings of the previous two entries. International openings, which can be relied on to save a film’s skin, were similarly down. Critical reaction also went from middling for the first film to poor for the the second to downright scathing for this third one.

In the wake of its poor performance, a source tells THR that Lionsgate is reportedly cutting the budget of the fourth and final film “Ascendant” which is due to start shooting this summer. How much isn’t clear, but their source indicates at least several million will be coming off the bottom line. “Allegiant” in comparison came in at $110 million.

Like several other Lionsgate franchises (namely “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games”), the distributor split the final book in the series into two films for obvious financial gain. The trouble is “Divergent” was never the box-office powerhouse of those other franchises, and reviews cite that the material simply isn’t strong enough to justify the split.

“The Hunger Games” saw declines in its final two films which also split one book, but the series was such an overperformer and so critically praised in its first two outings (especially its second) that its impact wasn’t felt so much.

With both its “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” franchises over, Lionsgate has been searching for a hit without much success. A source for the trade says the aggressive timetable is compromising quality, resulting in a series of costly duds such as “The Last Witch Hunter,” “Mortdecai” and “Gods of Egypt” and a slide in the studios share price of a whopping 45% in the past four months.

Whatever budget it comes in at, “Ascendant” remains on track to shoot this Summer for a June 9th 2017 opening.