Hypable reported on the story Thursday night, and the backlash was immediate. “Proving even more so why she’s a rat,” said one reader. “Yet your career started on a TV show,” said another, referring to Shailene’s starring role on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager. A third fan added, “Shailene sounds so entitled. She wouldn’t be a huge hit if it wasn’t for the fans of Divergent.”
On its face, the backlash is understandable to an extent: How could the star of a big (relatively speaking) movie series bail right before it ends?
But naysayers are wrong. Not returning for Ascendant is the right choice.
The studio bailed on her by screwing up the adaptation of Veronica Roth’s work, then splitting the final book into two movies, then deciding that the fourth installment wouldn’t really be a movie. If the studio doesn’t believe they can put together a movie worthy of being released in movie theaters, why should Shailene do them a favor by signing a new contract (which is required, because her current contract calls for the fourth movie to have a theatrical release) for a low-budget TV movie?
(And yes, it will be shot on a smaller budget. Before we learned of Summit’s plans to skip theaters, they admitted to investors that they had rushed out the third movie and promised to shoot the fourth for less money. The special effects were already pretty bad — so you can imagine how much worse they’d be on TV.)
Let’s be honest: The TV movie is going to suck. It may please, like, 20% of the diehards who are still out there. The truth of the matter is that Summit wants to burn it off as quickly as possible, but to please investors they’re throwing in this tease of a “spinoff series” to make it seem like there’s long-term potential there. But there’s not.
And it’s entirely Summit’s fault that it burned to the ground this way. They didn’t have to make Insurgent and Allegiant divert from the source material. They didn’t have to split book three into two movies.
It’s burned to the ground, financially speaking, because the fans have given up. The fans — the people who made the movie series possible in the first place — were betrayed when the producers started veering the story off Veronica Roth’s path. The fans — who are already tired of dystopian adaptations — were told to sit through an extra movie so Summit could make an extra buck.
This is something I will never understand: How studios can betray the fans then expect them to continue turning out. If you lose your core base who were there for you at the beginning, what do you expect will happen?
The studio let the fans down, and now they’re letting the cast down by screwing them out of what they were promised. By not coming back for the TV movie, Shailene Woodley (and likely others) will save face and take the high road. A road that doesn’t include a movie with an ill-fitting back door for a spinoff series. A road that doesn’t include a bad, shot-for-ABC Family movie added to their IMDb profile.