"Divergent Series" Sheds 3D

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Considering how slow 3D news has been these days (with select TV manufacturer's phasing it out this year) it's interesting that I somehow managed to miss one of the more obvious stories that was starring me right in my face: "The Divergent Series: Allegiant" was released to theaters this weekend WITHOUT a 3D version to accompany it!  To my knowledge the film was announced to be in 3D, but it is being released only in 2D and I'm not even aware of the Chinese market getting a 3D version.  Part of me is kicking myself for missing such an obvious story, but I think this may actually speak more about the problems the franchise is having in general than it does about me.  The first film is the series was not released in 3D.  With "The Divergent Series: Insurgent" though, Summit Entertainment made the announcement the series would be jumping into the realm of 3D, and thus that film became the first in the series to get the 3D treatment.

At the same time it was announced that the final book in the series would be split into two movies: "The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1" and "The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 2." Both were also announced to be in 3D.  Amazing what a difference a year makes though.  So what happened?  I've got a few theories.  Keep in mind these are more or less speculative guesses, but I think they're strong ones.  After splitting the final 'Hunger Games' movie into two parts proved to be a creative (and critical) nightmare for Lionsgate (who also happens to distribute "The Divergent Series"), some changes were made.  The first thing that needed to go was the whole "Part 1 and Part 2" thing.  Look, it may have worked for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," but that novel was almost 800 pages long.  "Mockingjay" and "Allegiant" COMBINED barely make 700 pages, yet both these books were being split into two movies to keep the franchises alive just a little longer!

The thing about this is that fans are getting tired of the film splitting.  They see it for what it really is, and if they didn't before, they certainly did when "The Hobbit" was forced to be a trilogy.  I have a saying that goes "you can't keep people stupid forever," and that was starting to show in the box office returns and reviews.  Thus "The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Part 1" became just "The Divergent Series: Allegiant" while the sequel was renamed as "The Divergent Series: Ascendant.". Granted, this is STILL splitting one book into two, but at least the studios are sort of trying to hide the fact now!  That goes a long way to showing that they are aware of the public scorn for this practise.  The second thing they did was move the release date for the final film up a few months to give the film makers more time to work on the film.  This series has had one of the fastest production schedules of any major franchise, and it shows in how people have received the final projects.

With each new installment the reviews get worse and worse, and there is probably some hope that giving the film makers a few more months to tweak the final movie might give them a better final project (hey, it worked for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2").  Finally, we get to the 3D.  Although the 3D surcharges did add some money to 'Insurgent's' final box office tally, the film still grossed less than its predecessor.  3D upconversion can still add at least several million dollars to the budget, so since the format didn't bring in the extra money the studio wanted, they decided to cut their loss on it and not use it for the next films.  This ultimately seems like a wise move as the latest movie grossed much less than the previous two films and has the worst reviews of the bunch.  It is ironic that the movie opened number two at the box office to "Zootopia," a movie that is in it's third week I release and is kicking serious butt in the 3D and IMAX formats.  I have to laugh because it just goes to show you that nobody knows anything in Hollywood.

I would like to point out if there is a lesson to be learned in all of this, it's that ultimately formats can be used to enhance any movie and it doesn't matter which genre you apply them to, it just matters how the movie uses them.  "Zootopia" was a movie that was predicted to be a disappointment because no one goes to see animation in 3D or IMAX anymore.  The movie has proved them wrong.  On the other hand conventional wisdom says that these formats would benefit 'The Divergent Series.' They did not.  All the number crunching in the world can't predict what 3D movies will be embraced and which ones will be shunned.  It's not about what types of films use the format; it's how the films use the format.  With manufacturers scaling back on production of 3D TV's, who knows if this lesson will ever truly sink in.  I suppose we'll have to wait and see what happens with "Avatar 2."


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