Per a new report by The Hollywood Reporter, studio Lionsgate looks to be taking some immediate action after the Allegiant box office debacle this weekend. Their sources say the budget of the fourth and final movie in the series, Ascendant, which is scheduled to shoot this summer, will be cut by a significant amount. The specific number wasn’t revealed, but it could be in the “several millions of dollars.” Like they did with Twilight and The Hunger Games before it, Lionsgate split the third book to make more money, but franchise fatigue has set in from the bottom to the top.
A reluctant teen hero leads a rebellious group of like-minded dystopian youths against the oppressive regime of a future totalitarian government’s social experiments— Oh, wait, you’ve seen that movie before?
Such is the problem for Lionsgate, which saw its YA empire begin to crumble over the weekend as the latest Divergent series movie, Allegiant, faltered at the box office. It’s bad news for the company on many levels, but worst of all: it’s only the first half of the two-part conclusion of the adaptation of the Veronica Roth novel series, directed by Robert Schwentke and starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James.
Its lackluster $29 million first weekend total was a major blow to the studio, which is facing a wilting YA craze after rising to mid-major status thanks to the genre’s popularity over the last decade. Allegiant represented the lowest opening weekend of the Divergent series so far, coming in over $23 million less than the previous installment, Insurgent, made during its opening weekend in 2015.
The overall numbers don’t look so good for Lionsgate, a company that ascended to the role of major Hollywood studio after the lucrative Twilight and Hunger Games movies. The studio hoped to pass the dystopian YA baton from The Hunger Games to Divergent, but the declining box office even leftover from the relative failure of Mockingjay - Part 2, the final Hunger Games movie last year, caused Lionsgate’s stock to drop 3 percent on Monday according to a report by Variety. Lionsgate also had a recent bomb with the $140 million epic Gods of Egypt, which fizzled at the box office almost immediately.
It seems the Divergent movies and dystopian YA adaptations may have lost their momentum in the wake of Lionsgate’s fleeting successes. It’s not a new phenomenon; magic was in vogue after Harry Potter clones and vampires got hot after Twilight, but in every case, the knockoffs didn’t thrive like the originals.
But Lionsgate will look to prolong the lives of many franchises off the big-screen. Last year it was reported that the studio will lisence out its series to independent companies to turn into theme parks and different entertainment destinations in locales like Atlanta, China, and the United Arab Emirates.
YA adaptations may be a passing fad, but another series could just as easily come along and prosper. And for what it’s worth, the Maze Runner movies are excellent. But as of right now, Lionsgate needs to do some YA soul searching, and at this point it can only afford to grow up a little bit.
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