Why just make three films when you can make more money with four? This seems to be a growing trend with high-profile (especially young adult) novel series brought to the silver screen in the last couple years. Veronica Roth’s worldwide best-selling novel series is the latest to get that special treatment as announced by Lionsgate Vice President Michael Burns on CNBC Friday morning.
Allegiant, the third novel in the popular futuristic sci-fi novel series, will be split into two films to be released on March 16, 2016 and March 24, 2017. Following on the phenomenal success of the four-novel series five-film Twilight Saga, Hollywood studios could be making a habit of splitting the final book of its novel-based adaptations into two parts with what is expected to continue to be great success. Summit’s Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part I and Part II made over $700 million and $800 million worldwide, respectively. Now Lionsgate appears to be in position to reap huge benefits from The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay’s two-part split of the third novel in Suzanne Collins’ novel trilogy. The second film in the novel series adaptation, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire starring Jennifer Lawrence, has grossed over $800 Million worldwide. No doubt, Lionsgate is banking on this formula and stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James to spell huge success for them once again.
It’s hard to say whether or not this is a positive trend or not; it’s easy to argue that splitting lengthy novels into multiple films allows for a more faithful adaptation of the source material. On the other hand, it’s not hard to look at the utter lack of material in some films, Breaking Dawn, Part 1, for example, and see it as little more than a cash grab.
Doubly curious about the announcement, as well as the plan for yearly installments for the Divergent series which necessitates ongoing production (and thus greater financial risk), is the fact that Divergent is currently at just $139 million worldwide. That’s a tidy sum, but it’s unlikely it covers all post-production and (major) publicity expenses incurred on top of the film’s $85 million dollar budget. Lionsgate is clearly confident in the property, but the box office has yet to fully validate that confidence.
The next installment, Insurgent, to be directed by Robert Schwentke, is due to bow in theaters March 20, 2015.