Neil Burger won’t be returning to direct Divergent sequel 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. 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,” a rep for Summit said in a statement.
After Variety broke the news, Erik Feig, president of production of Lionsgate, hopped on the phone with EW to reiterate that the reason is in no way a reflection on Burger’s work on the upcoming Divergent. “It’s the opposite,” says Feig. “We’re extremely happy with the film Neil has done. He’s delivered an amazing, amazing movie which is really the most important thing. You can’t have a franchise without a successful first film. What Neil has done is the hard part: he cast the movie, he created the world and he set the tone.”
The reason for Burger not returning for Insurgent (slated for March 18, 2015), says Feig, simply comes down to timing. Burger is still working on post-production on Divergent—visual effects, and working with Hans Zimmer (“he wants to do a superhero theme for a woman”) on the score—and would be unable to go into necessary pre-production work on the second film, which would need to begin before he’s even finished with they first film. “This is a critical time,” says Feig. Could he possibly come back to direct the third film, 2016’s slated, Allegiant? “You never know,” says Feig. “We’re not thinking that far ahead. But 100% I will be doing another Neil Burger movie if he wants to.”
As for who will come aboard to direct Insurgent, Feig says the search has only just begun but that he hopes to have news on a director soon.