First there was the rush to find the next Harry Potter series, then the next Twilight, and now producers are falling all over themselves to challenge the Hunger Games' young-adult crossover throne. The latest and closest of these challengers, Divergent, looks to replicate Lionsgate’s previous success with another bestselling post-apocalyptic book series. Shailene Woodley plays Katniss Everdeen stand-in Tris Prior, a precocious girl living in a dystopian future Chicago where society is divided into five rigid factions (Amity, Candor, Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless) and teenagers choose their place for the rest of their lives. But Tris is unique—she has more than one dominant personality trait among all the thesaurus-sourced alternatives for friendliness, honestly, bravery, intelligence, and selflessness—and therefore a threat to the very fabric of a society populated by one-note characters. And look, there’s Mr. Pamuk from Downton Abbey to teach Woodley to stand still while knives are thrown at her, and also to love.
Like their primarily teenage audiences, young-adult series adaptations can be fickle: For every Hunger Games there are more than a few Mortal Instruments. But with a cast that also includes Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, and Zoe Kravitz, Divergent seems more likely than most to extend Lionsgate's box-office dominance in the genre.