SAN DIEGO – Lionsgate and recent acquisition Summit Entertainment are cornering the market on young adult franchises. From “Twilight” to “Hunger Games” to the upcoming “Ender’s Game,” no one does it better. Today, Summit brought it’s next potential franchise to the Comic-Con faithful: “Divergent.”
Based on the best selling novel by Veronica Roth, “Divergent” joins “Ender’s Game” and “Hunger Games” in yet another dystopian future where society has been divided into five separate factions (well, a walled-in Chicago at least). As Roth herself told the Hall H crowd, at a young age citizens choose to be members of the selfless (Abnegation), the peaceful (Amity), the honest (Candor), the brave (Dauntless) and the intelligent (Erudite). “Divergent” focuses on Tris (Shailene Woodley), a young woman raised in the selfless faction who decides to join the brave, a decision that means she’ll leave her family forever.
As director Neil Burger (“Limitless”) noted, “[It all begins with a] choosing ceremony. There is an aptitude test. It’s a psychological dream state and they put various challenges to you and they determine what faction you are best suited for. Then there is a ceremony where you come on stage and you slit your palm that represent the factions, and doing so, you pay your sacred allegiance to that faction.”
He continued, “They have determined that that’s the way society can work. That’s what keeps society in balance.”
Burger revealed that the production just completed principal photography in Chicago on Tuesday. But, because they knew Comic-Con was around the corner, they prepared a special preview reel just for the Hall H crowd.
The footage started with Tris and Christina (Zoe Kravitz) jumping on an elevated train with other new members of the brave clan (this is obviously after the choosing ceremony). They both realize they have to jump off the moving train to the rooftops below. Being “brave,” they have no fear (we think) making the jump. The entire group of new recruits are then told by an elder member of the clan that in order to be initiated they must jump from what appears to be at least a five- or six-story building into a dark hole in the street below.
Tris volunteers to go first and we see her jump…and then safely land in a net unseen from the room. As she’s pulled from the large net we’re introduced to Four (Theo James), who asks, “Did they push you?” as Tris can barely get a word out upon gazing at his handsome face. Four then lets Tris know this is her one chance to change her name (it was Beatrice before) and quickly she chooses Tris. The footage then segued into a montage of brave clan training scenes with a quick snippet of the evil Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) and an icky shot of a long needle being used on Tris’s neck (perhaps a certain serum?).
Overall, the film appears to have a more contemporary “Hunger Games” look, not that far in the future. What may make “Divergent” work is the chemistry between Woodley and James, supporting cast members Miles Teller, Mekihi Phifer, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q, Jai Courtney as well as the aforementioned Winslet.
Roth has already released the second novel in the trilogy, “Insurgent,” and revealed during the panel that the final chapter, “Allegiant,” will be written from both Tris and Four’s perspectives.
Far too many members of the cast were on hand for an engaging conversation, but Woodley, James, Kravitz, Phifer, Teller (who shockingly didn’t speak until the final question to the panel), Maggie Q, Ben Lamb, Amy Newbold, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Ansel Elgort and Christian Madsen were in attendance.
“Divergent” opens nationwide and in IMAX on March 21, 2014.