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Divergent (film)

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Title: Divergent (film)  
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Subject: Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Ashley Judd, Ellie Goulding, Jai Courtney
Collection: 2010S Action Films, 2010S Adventure Films, 2010S Science Fiction Films, 2014 Films, American Action Films, American Adventure Films, American Films, American Science Fiction Films, Divergent Trilogy, Dystopian Films, Films Based on American Novels, Films Directed by Neil Burger, Films Set in Chicago, Illinois, Films Set in the 22Nd Century, Films Shot in Chicago, Illinois, Imax Films, Lions Gate Entertainment Films, Mind Control in Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic Films, Science Fiction Adventure Films, Summit Entertainment Films
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Divergent (film)

Lead characters Tris and Four stand above a futuristic Chicago.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Neil Burger
Produced by
Screenplay by Evan Daugherty
Vanessa Taylor
Based on Divergent 
by Veronica Roth
Music by Junkie XL
Cinematography Alwin H. Küchler
Edited by
Distributed by
Release dates
Running time 139 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $85 million[2][3]
Box office $288,747,895[3]

Divergent is a 2014 American science fiction action film directed by Neil Burger, based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth. The film is the first installment in The Divergent Series and was produced by Lucy Fisher, Pouya Shabazian, and Douglas Wick, with a screenplay by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor.[4] It stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q and Kate Winslet.[5][6] The story takes place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic version of Chicago[7] where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Beatrice Prior is warned that she is Divergent and thus will never fit into any one of the factions and soon learns that a sinister plot is brewing in her seemingly perfect society.

Development of Divergent began in March 2011 when Summit Entertainment picked up the film rights to the novel with Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher's production company Red Wagon Entertainment. Principal photography began on April 16, 2013 and concluded on July 16, 2013, with reshoots taking place from January 24–26, 2014. Production mostly took place in Chicago.

Divergent was released on March 21, 2014 in the United States. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but reached the #1 spot at the box office during its opening weekend. Since its release, the film has grossed over $288 million worldwide against its budget of $85 million, making it a financial success.[8][9] It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 5, 2014, while the soundtrack and score were released in March 2014.[10][11]

A sequel, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, is scheduled to be released on March 20, 2015 in the United States.[12]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Pre-production 3.1
    • Casting 3.2
    • Filming 3.3
    • Post-production 3.4
  • Music 4
  • Distribution 5
    • Marketing 5.1
    • Release 5.2
    • Home media 5.3
  • Reception 6
    • Box office 6.1
    • Critical response 6.2
    • Accolades 6.3
  • Sequels 7
  • References 8
  • Readings 9
  • External links 10


In a futuristic dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). Members join a faction based on their preference but are initially given a suggestion by an aptitude test. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) has grown up in Abnegation, the faction that runs the government, yet has always been fascinated by Dauntless. Her father, Andrew (Tony Goldwyn), serves on the ruling council along with the head of Abnegation, Marcus Eaton (Ray Stevenson).

Every year, 16-year-olds undergo a serum-based aptitude test that indicates the faction into which they would best fit, and informs their choice at the Choosing Ceremony. Beatrice takes the test with a Dauntless woman named Tori (Maggie Q) as her proctor. Her test shows attributes of three factions (Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless), meaning she is Divergent. Tori records her result as Abnegation and warns her to keep the true result a secret, telling her that since Divergents can think independently and the government therefore cannot control them, they are considered threats to the existing social order.

The next day at the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice's brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) chooses Erudite, while with hesitation, Beatrice chooses Dauntless. After the ceremony, Beatrice meets Christina (Zoë Kravitz) and Al (Christian Madsen), two Candors who chose Dauntless, and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), an Erudite who also chose Dauntless. The Dauntless initiates are given tests such as jumping from a moving train and taking a leap of faith from a tall building into a large dark hole. During these tests, the initiates meet Eric (Jai Courtney), a brutal leader of Dauntless, and Four (Theo James), the transfer initiates' instructor. Beatrice volunteers first to jump off the building and leap into the hole, which has her branded as First Jumper. After the jump, when Four asks her name, Beatrice decides to shorten it to "Tris."

Tris initially struggles in Dauntless training, ranking 32nd out of 33 after the first evaluation, but slowly improves. After being forced to fight her enemy Peter (Miles Teller) and being hospitalized, Tris almost fails out of Dauntless, but redeems herself by playing a key role in winning a capture-the-flag game.

After the physical stage of Dauntless training, the initiates are put into simulations in order to face their fears. Tris' divergence allows her to excel at these tests, but Four, who begins a relationship with Tris, warns her to conceal the reasons behind her success and to solve the challenges the way a true Dauntless would.

Tris visits her brother, Caleb, in Erudite, who tells her that Erudite is planning to overthrow Abnegation and become the ruling faction. On her return to Dauntless headquarters, Tris is attacked due to her success in training, with Peter, Al, and Drew attempting to throw her into a chasm. She is eventually rescued by Four. The next day, Al pleads with Tris for her forgiveness but she refuses and calls him a coward. Later, she is shocked to learn Al has killed himself by jumping into the chasm.

In preparation for her final test, Four takes Tris into his own fear simulations, where she finds out that one of his fears is taking orders he doesn't want to do. She also finds out that his real name is Tobias, and he is the son of Abnegation leader and head of government, Marcus Eaton. After the simulation, Four and Tris realize their feelings for each other and share a romantic kiss. When the day of the test comes, Tris passes without revealing she is Divergent. During the post-test celebration, the Dauntless are injected with a serum which is said to be administered as a tracking device, but which is revealed to be a mind control serum.

Controlling the heavily armed members of Dauntless through the serum, Erudite manipulates them into attacking Abnegation. Divergents are unaffected, so Tris and Four have to blend in and act as though they are affected by the serum. During a raid at Abnegation, Eric spots that Four is not under mind-control, and Four and Tris are caught and separated. Tris' mother Natalie (Ashley Judd) appears and rescues Tris, but dies while doing so. During the escape, Tris is forced to kill Will when, under the effects of the serum, he attacks her. To stop Erudite's plan, Tris, her father, brother, and Marcus sneak into the Dauntless headquarters. Seeing that Peter is not under the serum, Tris orders him to take them to Erudite's operations room. Her father sacrifices himself in a shootout. Tris goes in alone and finds Four, who is now under a more advanced form of mind-control that works even on Divergents. After a fight she manages to wake him from his stupor, knowing he cannot shoot her while looking at her face, for that is one of his fears. Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is about to start the protocols that will make Dauntless kill every Abnegation. Before Jeanine pushes the button, Tris intervenes by throwing a knife that stabs Jeanine's hand. Tris can't make Jeanine abort the program and Tris can't kill her since she knows the code. Instead, she injects Jeanine with the serum and orders her to stop the program. She does and when everyone is released from mind-control, she realizes it and attacks Tris. Tris knocks her out and escapes Dauntless with Caleb, Peter, Four, and Marcus on the train, intending to ride to the end of the tracks.


Shailene Woodley portrays Beatrice Prior.



In March 2011, Summit Entertainment picked up the rights for Divergent with Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher's production company Red Wagon Entertainment.[13] Neil Burger was announced as the director on August 23, 2012.[14] Evan Daugherty, who co-wrote the screenplay with Vanessa Taylor, said, "I get hung up on the toughness of the movie but of equal importance is the love story between Tris and Four. It's inherently and inextricably linked to Tris' character journey. There will be plenty of sexual tension and chemistry, but it's important that all of that stuff doesn't just feel like it's thrown in, but that it all helps Tris grow as a character."[15] Daugherty further added, "It's tricky because the book is a very packed read with a lot of big ideas. So, distilling that into a cool, faithful two-hour movie is challenging. Not only do you have to establish five factions, but you have to acknowledge that there's a sixth entity, which is the divergent, and you also have the factionless. So there's a world that really has to be built out for the big screen… the movie is going to do it a little more efficiently."[16] Author Veronica Roth said about the script of the film: "Reading a script is a really interesting experience. I'd never read a script before. I was really impressed by how closely it stuck to the general plot line of the book."[17]

Initially, the budget of the film was $40 million but Lionsgate later increased it to $80 million (which finally changed to $85 million) due to the success of The Hunger Games. Analyst Ben Mogil said, "Divergent is more similar to Hunger Games in that the company owns the underlying economics (i.e. production) and the budget (at $80[million]) is more manageable."[18]


Theo James was cast as Tobias "Four" Eaton, winning the role over several other considered actors.

On October 22, 2012 it was announced that Shailene Woodley had landed the lead role of Beatrice "Tris" Prior.[19] Lucas Till, Jack Reynor, Jeremy Irvine, Alex Pettyfer, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Ludwig and Luke Bracey were all considered for the role of Tobias "Four" Eaton.[20][21] On March 15, 2013, it was announced that Theo James had been cast as Four.[22]

Though James was 10 years older than the character when cast, Roth praised his casting: "I was sure within seconds: this was 'Four', no question. Theo is able to capture 'Four's' authority and strength, as well as his depth and sensitivity." She also mentions the chemistry between him and Shailene: "He is a perfect match for Shailene's incredibly strong presence as Tris. I'm thrilled!"[23] The producers said about his casting: "We took our time to find the right actor to fill the role of Four, and Theo is definitely the perfect fit. Veronica has crafted a truly iconic character in Four and we cannot wait to begin production and bring him and this story to life for millions of fans around the world."[22]

On March 11, 2013, it was announced that the roles of Tori, Christina, and Caleb had gone to Maggie Q, Zoë Kravitz, and Ansel Elgort respectively.[24] Ray Stevenson, Jai Courtney and Aaron Eckhart were announced to be in talks to join the cast on March 15, 2013.[25] Stevenson and Courtney joined the cast as Marcus Eaton and Eric.[26] That same day, Miles Teller was cast as Peter.[27] Kate Winslet was announced to be in talks on January 24, 2013.[28] Later, it was confirmed that she would portray Jeanine Matthews.[29] Talking about playing the negative character for the first time, Winslet said, "I'm no idiot. The idea went through my head that I have never played a baddie before, I was almost kind of surprised." Since Winslet joined filming late, she used that distance from her co-stars to appear aloof on the first day of her shoot. "I wanted to break it and say, 'It's OK, I'm really fun. I promise.' But I thought, just for today, I'd let them think that I am a complete bitch."[30] Winslet was five months pregnant during the shooting of the film and her pregnancy was concealed using various props. According to Burger, "We had to be very strategic in the way that we shot her. She always had some sort of file or case in her hand that was sort of protecting, you know, her bump."[31] On March 25, 2013, Ben Lamb was cast as Edward, Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Will, and Christian Madsen as Al.[32] In April 2013, Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn joined the cast as Natalie and Andrew Prior, Beatrice's parents.[33][34]


The Ferris wheel scene in Divergent was filmed at Navy Pier.

Filming began in Chicago on April 16, 2013 and concluded on July 16, 2013.[35][36][37] Virtually all production photography took place in Chicago; many of the interior locations were filmed at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios.[38] Scenes for the "choosing ceremony" were shot at 17th Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago on East Wacker in downtown Chicago.,[39] with outdoor shots taken at Pioneer Court.[40] Filming also took place at the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel; the entire area was treated with dirt and rust to appear more dystopian.[41] Additional scenes were shot at 57th Street and Ellis Avenue near the University of Chicago,[42] at Federal Street where fake L tracks were constructed[43] and at Michigan Avenue.[44]

For the Abnegation sector, the production team constructed the set on Wells Street in downtown Chicago.[45] In late June, filming took place at 1500 S Western Avenue and 600 S. Wells Street, Chicago.[46] In the last schedule, filming moved to the Chicago River and continued at Lake Street Bridge, Wacker Drive and LaSalle Street Bridge.[47] Filming wrapped on July 16, 2013.[48] On January 24, 2014, additional filming began in Los Angeles, finishing on January 26, 2014, which officially became the last day of shooting.[48]


Post-production work began after filming wrapped.[49] On July 18, Summit and Lionsgate issued a joint statement announcing the film would be released in IMAX format: "We're delighted to continue our successful collaboration with IMAX, with whom we have already partnered on the global blockbuster Hunger Games and Twilight Saga franchises, and we're especially pleased that we can introduce our newest young adult franchise, Divergent, to the movie going public in the premium IMAX format that celebrates its status as a special and memorable event."[50]


The score for Divergent was composed by Junkie XL and executive produced by his longtime mentor Hans Zimmer. Randall Poster served as the film's music supervisor.[51][52] The original soundtrack was released on March 11, 2014, while the Original Score of the film was released on March 18, 2014, by Interscope Records.[53][54]



The first image of Shailene Woodley as Beatrice "Tris" Prior was revealed by Entertainment Weekly on April 24, 2013.[55] A few seconds sneak preview footage of the film was shown at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[56] On June 7, Entertainment Weekly released a still of Theo James (Four) showing the Dauntless initiates around their new headquarters.[57] The magazine released several more stills on July 19.[58] On July 16, USA Today released the first image of Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews.[30]

On July 18, 2013 Summit held a sold-out San Diego Comic-Con panel in Hall H. Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Maggie Q, Zoe Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Amy Newbold, Miles Teller, Christian Madsen, director Neil Burger, and author Veronica Roth attended the panel and answered fan questions, along with the showing of exclusive film clips.[59]

On August 22, 2013, a sneak peek of the first teaser trailer was released by MTV.[60][61][62] The full teaser was released on August 25, 2013 during the pre-show of the MTV Video Music Awards.[63][64][65] Two official posters featuring Woodley and James as Tris and Four and highlighting their tattoos were released on September 23, 2013.[66][67] Neil Burger released the full official trailer on November 13, 2013.[68][69] On February 4, 2014 Shailene Woodley and Theo James released the final trailer for the film during their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[70]

The marketing campaign for the film cost at least $50 million.[71]


On its first day of advance ticket sales, the film sold half of its tickets.[72]

Home media

Divergent was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 5, 2014.[10] Prior to its DVD release, a deleted scene from the film featuring Miles Teller as Peter Hayes and Ben Lamb as Edward was released on July 30, 2014.[73]


Box office

Divergent earned $150,947,895 in North America, and $137,228,004 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $288,175,899.[3]

On its opening weekend, the film attained the No. 1 spot in domestic and worldwide box office rankings by Rentrak.[74][75] The film grossed $4.9 million in late night screenings, on Thursday March 20, 2014.[12] On its opening day, the film grossed $22.8 million in the United States (including the Thursday night gross).[76][77][78] Divergent accumulated $54,607,747 from 3,936 theaters at an average of $13,873 per theater, on its opening weekend in the United States and Canada[79][80][81] and grossed $1.7 million internationally from four territories, with a worldwide total of $56,307,747.[82][83][84]

Critical response

Divergent received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 41% rating based on reviews from 196 critics, with an average score of 5.4/10. The site's consensus states: "With an adherence to YA formula that undercuts its individualistic message, Divergent opens its planned trilogy in disappointingly predictable fashion."[85] Metacritic gives the film a score of 48 based on reviews from 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[86] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore were more receptive to the film, giving it a CinemaScore grade of "A". The survey group was 69% female and half of the audience was over 25.[87][88]

The main criticisms of the film was its generic execution and predictable plot.[89][90] Bruce Diones of The New Yorker called it, "barely diverting",[91] and Jordan Adler of We Got This Covered said it was a, "plodding and generic dystopian drama".[92]

Though the film overall received a mixed reception, many critics praised Shailene Woodley and Theo James for their portrayals as Beatrice Prior and Tobias Eaton. According to Todd Gilchrist of The Playlist, "Woodley makes for more than uncertain enough of a hero to add detail and meaning to the implosion of this world", adding that "there's little artifice to her performance, and the mundane honesty of her reactions create a believability that the world would otherwise lack." Speaking of James's performance, Gilchrist adds that he "manages the considerable accomplishment of seeming like a real grown-up man" and that he "makes the character's transformation from hardass to collaborator seem natural, if inevitable".[93] Drew McWeeny at HitFix said, "it helps that [they] got Woodley and James in the leads. [Woodley's] like a walking empathy battery, wide-open emotionally, easy to read and enormously appealing", also adding that James is "incredibly natural onscreen".[94]

Andrew Osmond of SFX magazine was more receptive to the film, calling it "an often entertaining, and sometimes very interesting, piece of teen SF".[95] Andy Lea of Daily Star wrote that "the satire is not as sharp as that of The Hunger Games and the training scenes borrow heavily from the much smarter Ender's Game. But it's also stylish, tense and surprisingly pacy."[96] Orlando Weekly '​s Sam Allard gave the film a 3/5 rating, praising Shailene Woodley's performance by saying she "rescues and then raises up a film that could have been an utter disaster".[97] Christy Lemire of agreed with this sentiment, writing, "the performances—namely from stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James and Kate Winslet in a juicy supporting role—always make the movie watchable and often quite engaging".[98] Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post felt that the film surpassed its source material, feeling that "it's rare that a movie is as good as the book on which it's based. It's even more unusual when it's better."[99] Leigh Paatsch of the Herald Sun dubbed the film a "solid first-up effort for the Divergent franchise",[100] and Margaret Pomeranz of At the Movies gave praise to director Neil Burger, stating that he "handles the action with aplomb".[101]

The Playlist's Todd Gilchrist gave it a mixed review saying that it has "great ideas ... and some terrific character work, but it's given such uneven attention, alternately languished upon and glossed over".[93] IGN's Matt Patches gave it 5.8 out of 10, citing its similarities to other young adult films and contrived Dauntless plot line. He praised lead actors Theo James and Shailene Woodley's performances, judging that they "add personality and physicality to the limp script they're acting out".[102] Scott Mendelson of Forbes magazine echoed these sentiments, arguing that despite Woodley's excellent performance, "the generic story reduced a large portion of the mythology to irrelevancy". Mendelson believed that the film would please the novel's fanbase.[103]


List of awards and nominations
Year Award Category Recipients Result
2014 MTV Movie Awards Favorite Character Beatrice "Tris" Prior Won
Teen Choice Awards[104] Choice Movie: Action Divergent Won
Choice Movie Actor: Action Theo James Won
Choice Movie Actress: Action Shailene Woodley Won
Choice Movie Villain Kate Winslet Nominated
Choice Breakout Star Ansel Elgort Won
Choice Breakout Star Theo James Nominated
Young Hollywood Awards Fan Favorite Actor – Male Theo James Nominated
Fan Favorite Actor – Female Shailene Woodley Nominated
Best On-Screen Couple Shailene Woodley/Theo James Nominated
Best Cast Chemistry – Film Divergent Nominated
Favorite Flick Divergent Nominated
2015 People's Choice Awards[105] Favorite Action Movie Divergent Pending
Favorite Action Movie Actress Shailene Woodley Pending
Favorite Movie Duo Shailene Woodley/Theo James Pending


On May 7, 2013, Summit Entertainment revealed that a sequel based on Insurgent was already in the works. Brian Duffield, writer of Jane Got a Gun, was hired to write the script.[106] The sequel is scheduled to be released on March 20, 2015. The third film, based on Allegiant, was initially announced as a single film scheduled for release on March 18, 2016.[107][108] In December 2013, it was announced that Neil Burger will not return to direct the sequel, due to him still working on the first film.[109] On February 11, 2014, it was announced that Robert Schwentke would take Burger's place for the next installment.[110][111] On March 21, 2014, Lionsgate officially greenlit the film adaptation of Insurgent, due to Divergent's strong opening at the box-office.[12] Principal photography for The Divergent Series: Insurgent began in Atlanta on May 27, 2014.[112]

On April 11, 2014, Summit Entertainment announced that the third film would split into two films titled The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 and The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 2, with Part 1 scheduled to be released on March 18, 2016 and Part 2 scheduled to be released on March 24, 2017.[113]


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  • Divergent: production notes, tour // Summit Entertainment (copy of pdf)

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