Five days after the assault on the Abnegation faction by Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her mind-controlled Dauntless soldiers, Jeanine has declared martial law and that the Divergents – those with the qualities of multiple factions – and those allied with them are the enemy. Among the Abnegation wreckage, Dauntless leader Eric (Jai Courtney) and his platoon recover a five-sided box: each side has a faction symbol. Jeanine presumes it contains data from the city's founders and the means to end the Divergence problem. As only a Divergent is capable of opening the box, she orders the capture of all Divergents.
Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) hide within the Amity compound. Soon after, Eric and his fleet arrive to test all the occupants for Divergence. Peter gives up the group's location as Tris, Four, and Caleb escape and board a train headed into Factionless territory. After fights with the Factionless aboard, Four reveals his name–Tobias Eaton–which prompts the Factionless to stand down and reply that they have been searching for him.
Four, Tris, and Caleb are given amnesty at the Factionless hideout. There, Tris and Caleb discover that the Factionless leader is Four's mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts), who Four is still resentful towards her for leaving him with his abusive father, Marcus. She suggests that Dauntless and Factionless should ally against Erudite, but Four declines. The next morning, the three leave Factionless for Candor to meet up with the remaining Dauntless; during the trek, Caleb tells his sister Tris that he cannot continue with them and goes in a different direction. Upon arrival, Tris and Four are arrested and brought before Candor leader Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), who intends to deliver them to Jeanine. However, Four pleads for Jack to conduct a trial in Candor with the use of truth serum. During the trial, Four communicates his motives and is absolved. Tris tearfully admits her guilt in shooting and killing Will, which angers Christina, who loved him.
Candor is attacked by the Dauntless who have sided with Eric, and many people are shot with pellets of new simulation serum. Tris is captured by Eric who learns she has a Divergence reading of 100%, making her the perfect subject to open the box. Eric arrests Tris, but Four and the Factionless allies arrive to save her. After a brief exchange, Four shoots Eric in the head for the murder of hundreds of people. Back at Erudite, Jeanine, frustrated that none of the Divergent subjects have survived the simulation trials required to open the box, is approached by Peter, who pledges his loyalty to Erudite, and suggests the best way to get Tris to surrender is by exploiting her humanity.
Back at the Factionless base, Four reluctantly agrees with Evelyn that war is inevitable and that they need to prepare. Jeanine activates the pellets, causing a Christina, Marlene and Hector to repeatedly chant that Tris must turn herself in or more death will follow, as they step closer and closer to the edge of a tall structure. Tris and Tori then climb the sides of the roof as Tris rescues Christina and Tori, Hector. However, Marlene plunges to her death. Overcome by guilt, Tris decides to turn herself in to the Erudites. That night, she and Four sleep in the same room together, and then she quietly slips away.
Upon arrival at the Erudite headquarters, Tris is immediately arrested. She agrees to undergo the trials provided that the suicides cease. Tris overcomes four of the trials, however, when her vitals drop, Jeanine reluctantly halts the simulation so that Tris can rest. Tris then discovers that they have captured Four. She fails the final trial and her vital signs cease. Her body is wheeled over to Four's cell so the latter can mourn, but when she's un-paralysed, Peter assists Four in overpowering the guards, revealing that he had faked her death by injecting her with a sleep serum. Tris is determined to open the box and find the truth about its message; she and Four head to the simulation room, while Peter returns to the control room to secretly grant them security access.
Overcoming the final trial, Tris successfully opens the box. A woman explains that the walled city and faction system is actually an experiment they devised, that the Divergents are actually the success of the experiment, and that the world is waiting outside for them to return to humanity. Realizing she has lost all her power, Jeanine orders that the box be buried and that Four and Tris be executed. However, the Factionless army breaks into the simulation room to rescue Tris and Four. Jeanine and Caleb are arrested. The message from the box is broadcast to the entire city. Tris is hailed as a hero by the masses, eager to explore the world beyond the wall. As Jeanine looks out from her cell, she states that after 200 years since the city was enclosed, there is no telling what awaits them beyond it. Evelyn tells her that she will never find out and kills her.
In December 2013, Summit Entertainment announced that a film adaptation of Insurgent would be released as The Divergent Series: Insurgent on March 20, 2015, as a sequel to the film adaptation of Divergent with Brian Duffield originally chosen to write the script for the film. On December 16, 2013, it was announced that Neil Burger, director of Divergent, would not return to direct Insurgent, due to him still working on the first film. On February 13, 2014, it was announced that Robert Schwentke was offered the director position for the film and that Akiva Goldsman had been hired to re-write Duffield's script.
In March 2014, it was confirmed that Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jai Courtney, Ansel Elgort, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, and Kate Winslet would reprise their roles from Divergent. Additionally, Ashley Judd, whose character died in the previous film, joined the cast for flashback and dream scenes involving her character. Woodley, who was filming at the time The Fault in Our Stars has cut her hair, in order to appear in both films at that time.
On May 12, 2014, it was announced that Octavia Spencer joined the cast as Amity representative Johanna Reyes. Late May 2014, Suki Waterhouse and Jonny Weston were cast as Marlene and Edgar, respectively. The character of Edgar does not appear in the Divergent trilogy; Weston later confirmed that the character is a member of factionless. Early June 2014, Stephanie Leigh Schlund announced that she was cast in the film as a member of the Amity, although she did not appear in the finished film. Naomi Watts and Daniel Dae Kim joined the cast as Evelyn Johnson and Jack Kang. On June 9, 2014, Rosa Salazar joined the cast as Lynn. On June 10, 2014, Australian actor Keiynan Lonsdale joined the cast as Uriah. On June 11, 2014, Emjay Anthony joined the cast as Hector.
Filming began in Atlanta on May 27, 2014 and concluded on September 6, 2014. Filming took place at the United States Penitentiary, Atlanta. For the Amity Compound, a set was constructed at Serenbe Community south of Atlanta. From June 11–24, 2014, filming took place at Peachtree Street, downtown Atlanta including a zip-line scene for which a set was constructed on the roof of Peachtree Center. On June 27, scenes were shot at the Archives Building in Atlanta. From July 12–13, 2014, production took place in Chicago with scenes being filmed at Wells Street, Franklin Street, Adams Street, Van Buren Street and helicopter shots at the Chicago Loop. Ashley Judd filmed her scenes along with Woodley in late June 2014. Additional interior and exterior shots of the High Museum in Atlanta were used as well.
In late August to early September, filming again moved to Atlanta. From August 28–29 and September 2–6, 2014, more scenes were filmed at the Archives Building in Atlanta. Several scenes were re-shot including the train sequence, which was filmed in Fulton County, Georgia on September 3, 2014. A few scenes were re-shot in Atlanta from December 17–21, 2014.
In November 2014, it was announced that composer Joseph Trapanese would score the film. Instead of a song-based soundtrack, the film relied on the score, which is darker and more intense than the first one. The Divergent Series: Insurgent – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack album was released March 17, 2015. The first single, "Holes in the Sky" by M83 featuring Haim, was released on March 2, 2015.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent was released on March 20, 2015 in the United States in 2D, Digital 3D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D. It is the first film of the series to be released in 3D formats and the second film in the franchise to be released in IMAX following the first film.
On October 22, 2014, after a few clues were given on the official Instagram page, www.thedivergentseries.com was launched. On October 28, 2014, 3D interactive character posters of Ansel Elgort as Caleb Prior, Maggie Q as Tori, Keiynan Lonsdale as Uriah Pedrad, Mekhi Phifer as Max, Miles Teller as Peter Hayes, Zoë Kravitz as Christina, Theo James as Tobias "Four" Eaton, and Shailene Woodley as Beatrice "Tris" Prior were released by various media sites.
The teaser trailer for The Divergent Series: Insurgent officially debuted online through the film's official YouTube account on November 12, 2014. The official full-length trailer premiered on December 12, 2014. On January 22, 2015, another five 3D interactive character posters were released, featuring Woodley, James, Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts. The first clip from the film was released on February 18, 2015, and a second clip was released three days later. The final trailer was released on February 24, 2015.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent was released on Digital HD on July 21, 2015, and on August 4, 2015 on 3D/Blu-ray/DVD.
Insurgent earned $130.2 million in North America, and $166.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $297 million. Insurgent made less in North America in comparison to Divergent with $130 million over $150 million but more worldwide with $297 million over $288 million partially due to a 3D conversion.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent earned $4.1 million from Thursday late night shows, which is lower than its predecessor's $4.9 million late night gross. It opened Friday, March 20, 2015, across 3,875 theaters, and earned $21.3 million, which was lower than its predecessor's opening day of $22.8 million. In total, it earned $52,263,680 for its debut weekend, finishing first at the box office, of which $3.6 million (7% of the total gross) came from 356 IMAX theaters. This was about the same opening gross as the first film, which made $54.6 million on the same weekend the year before.
Insurgent was released in a total of 82 countries internationally. Outside the US and Canada, Insurgent opened Thursday, March 19, 2015, in 52 countries earning $8.2 million, where it debuted at number one in 49 of the 52 countries. It opened in 20 more countries on March 21, for a total of 72 countries, earning $39.7 million in two days. Through Sunday, March 22, it earned an opening-weekend total of $48.3 million from 76 countries, where it debuted at No. 1 in 63 countries as well as topping the overseas box office for one weekend.
Its largest openings occurred in France ($6 million), the UK, Ireland and Malta ($4.4 million), Brazil ($4.2 million), Mexico ($3.7 million) and Australia ($3.2 million). In China, the film opened during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday weekend on June 19–21, 2015 and grossed $9.14 million in three days (Friday-Sunday) and $11.7 million in four days (Friday-Monday), which nearly equals the entire run of Divergent in the market ($12.4 million). It debuted at third place behind Jurassic World and SPL II: A Time For Consequences. France is the biggest market in terms of total earnings with $16.9 million followed by Brazil ($12.3 million), the United Kingdom and Ireland ($11.9 million) and Russia ($9.5 million).
The Divergent Series: Insurgent received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Some critics praised the visual style, action sequences and Woodley's performance, but criticized the storyline and the film for being too similar to other young adult book-to-film adaptations. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film holds a rating of a 28%, based on 184 reviews, with a rating average of 5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Shailene Woodley gives it her all, but Insurgent is still a resounding step back for a franchise struggling to distinguish itself from the dystopian YA crowd." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score, the film has a score of 42 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." At CinemaScore, the average grade audiences gave the film was an "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
Many critics praised Shailene Woodley's performance, as well as some of the main cast. Writing for New England Movies Weekly Daniel M. Kimmel said, "Woodley does solid work here as she's done elsewhere, and continues to be someone to watch." Susan Wloszczyna of RogerEbert.com wrote, "Woodley herself almost single-handedly saves these films from being just another overwrought dystopian nightmare." Some critics have considered the film to be an improvement over its predecessor, with Kevin P. Sullivan of Entertainment Weekly writing that, "Taken for what it is, Insurgent is a vast improvement over the franchise's first installment, mostly thanks to expansion in two arenas: budget and scope," and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times calling it "A more effective, adult-friendly film than its predecessor." However, Insurgent still received a considerable amount of negative criticism; Richard Corliss of Time said that "With its repeat itinerary, Insurgent is less a sequel than a remake. The movie has an ordinary middle-chapter scenario, and less The Empire Strikes Back than Attack of the Clones." Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal felt that "Insurgent opens new horizons of repetitiveness, dramatic shapelessness, self-seriousness and a generalized oppressiveness."
Tom Russo of The Boston Globe gave the film a positive review, calling it "a sequel that sticks to more routine territory of action, angst, and dystopian gloom — mostly a sound approach, thanks to the consistent strength of franchise lead Shailene Woodley and a mix of intended and inadvertent surprises." Tom Long of The Detroit News gave the film a B− and wrote, "The action sequences are well done, some of the visuals are spectacular, and at its heart Insurgent is wrestling with some very basic questions about ambition and human interaction." Charles Koplinski of the Illinois Times called it, "Smart, Slick and Superior to its predecessor," and Rich Cline of Contactmusic.com called it "A sharp improvement on the original," and wrote "this second entry in The Divergent Series has a much stronger sense of its premise and characters."
Mara Reinstein of Us Weekly gave it a 2/4, saying that there are "Trainloads of action abound (literally), but it's essentially generic combat." Claudia Puig of USA Today judged, "This second installment, based on Veronica Roth's series of YA novels, feels cobbled together and less focused than 2014's Divergent, and lacks tension and excitement." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post criticized the supporting characters writing that, "many of the other characters here are, by definition, one-dimensional." Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter said, "Even with breathless chases, strong design components and dazzling effects, the story's organizing principle — the faction system that divides society into five groups based on personality — grows less compelling as Insurgent proceeds."
On April 11, 2014, Summit Entertainment announced that a two-part film based on the final book in the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant, would be made. The first part, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, will be released on March 18, 2016 while the second part, The Divergent Series: Ascendant, on June 9, 2017. Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Naomi Watts will reprise their roles. On December 5, 2014, it was announced that Robert Schwentke will return to direct Part 1. Principal photography for Allegiant began in Atlanta on May 18, 2015, and concluded on August 23, 2015. On September 10, 2015, it was announced that the two films would be re-titled, with Part 1 being renamed as The Divergent Series: Allegiant and Part 2 as The Divergent Series: Ascendant. Lee Toland Krieger will serve as the director for Ascendant.