Since Lionsgate has announced that they’re officially expanding the Hunger Games trilogy into four movies by splitting the final book into two parts (echoing the treatment of the Twilight and Harry Potter film series), I’ve been attempting to figure out how to feel about the news. On one hand, I’m certainly a fan, so I suppose I should be happy about having an extra film to look forward to, and more Hunger Games to love. On the other hand, I’m curious about how the split is going to work in terms of the narrative, and how it will affect which elements of the series are foregrounded in the adaptation.
[Spoiler warning: if you haven’t read Mockingjay yet, and don’t want any plot points revealed, you should stop reading here.]
I’ve written about Mockingjay here before, and I think it’s actually a better conclusion to the series than many people give it credit for, but I can also see why it’s the least favorite installment of the series, for many fans. So much of the book is concerned with Katniss’s inner turmoil, and mental and emotional trauma—how well will that translate on screen?
There’s certainly enough action to fill two movies, but I can only imagine that the book’s intense focus on our protagonist’s internal struggles won’t completely carry over—and perhaps it will be an improvement, if the alternative is two hours of mopey Katniss fighting with Gale and skulking moodily around District Thirteen. As much as I appreciate Suzanne Collins’ efforts at establishing the psychological factors that lead inexorably toward the series’ climax, I doubt the movies will depart from the pacing and constant action of the first two novels nearly as much as the third book did.
I also wonder whether the extra installment will give the filmmakers an excuse to heavily foreground the love triangle, playing up the Peeta/Gale rivalry as much as possible. Personally, I hope that doesn’t turn out to be the case—I was actually quite pleased with how little it factored into the first movie—although I’m sure many fans don’t feel the same way. I’d prefer the romantic angle to remain secondary to the larger, life-and-death plot points of the rebellion against the capital, but something tells me that the melodrama of tragic, damaged pretty people in love will be too irresistible for Hollywood. At least hijacked Peeta will be crazy a lot of the time, which might make up for all of the jaw-clenching angryhandsomeface we’re in for….
So what are your predictions for how they’ll split the action up? The bet around the Tor.com office right now is that the first movie will end after Gale destroys the Nut in District Two and Katniss gets shot, but that seems a bit too dark to be a satisfying stopping place. Maybe the first movie will culminate with the horror of the Nut, followed by Finnick and Annie’s wedding and Katniss’s defiant declaration that she is going to help attack the Capitol, come hell or high water. Which leaves training, the mission and its aftermath in store for Mockingjay II: Mock Harder…and at this point, I suppose I should admit that the more I think about it, the more excited I’m getting about the prospect of three more movies.
Maybe it’s just a cynical grab for extra box office dollars on the studio’s part, but if they do a good job, does it really matter? I’m starting to think that, done well, the four movies might actually present fans with a more satisfying conclusion than the source material initially provided…at this point, though, there’s nothing left to do but cross our collective fingers and remain (wildly) optimistic.
Bridget McGovern is the non-fiction editor of Tor.com, and seriously needs to know who is going to play Finnick Odair, right now. If you’re privy to any top secret Finnick casting intel, please let her know on Twitter.