Neil Burger Won't Direct Divergent Sequel

Scheduling issues rear their head again

As often comes to pass on big franchise films these days, the director that launched what the studio involved hopes will be a successful set of films is stepping aside due to increasing schedule pressure. So it is that Neil Burger, the man behind upcoming Veronica Roth YA novel adaptation Divergent, won’t make the planned follow-up, Insurgent.

Burger made his decision because series backers Lionsgate decided to ramp up work on the sequel (due 2015) and a third film, Allegiant for 2016, so confident is it that Divergent will perform well enough to make them both viable. That’s a big gamble – as the team behind The Mortal Instruments could tell you – but Burger is going to be too busy finishing off Divergent to properly gear up pre-production on Insurgent.

“Neil Burger is a rock star and he is doing a fantastic job on Divergent. We can’t wait for you to see the film,” the studio said in a statement picked up by Screen International. “But as amazing as Neil is he still cannot be in two places at once and thus needs to finish post-production on Divergent while we gear up to start production on Insurgent. So, although Neil will continue on as part of our Divergent family as an executive producer, we sadly have to find another director for the next chapter in Veronica Roth’s fantastic series.

Divergent is set in a society where people are divided into social factions based on their personalities. It’s all part of a drive to end years of civil strife and war that has wracked a future America. 

Tris (Shailene Woodley), however, is different. She doesn’t belong in any one faction, and her divergent nature means she’s a threat to the orderly running of the civilization. Things aren’t easy for those who are identified as different – and by different, we mean dangerous. She joins the Dauntless (courageous) faction but there, together with friends and her mysterious, handsome trailer Four (Theo James), Tris must face the perils ahead and figure out the plans of Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), the stern figurehead she’ll have to defeat.

The first film arrives on March 21, and all three books are already on shelves.