Wed
Jul 11 2012 4:00pm

What to Expect When You’re Expecting An Extra Hunger Games Movie

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.

19 comments
Scott Silver
1. hihosilver28
Geh, consider me wildly unenthused. It just doesn't feel like there is material to justify this, and I can't think of any story published as one volume that after being split makes for a more compelling story. I really didn't like Deathly Hallows I or II, and primarily for that reason. Part I was two acts of a story and II was just the third act. Don't even get me started on Breaking Dawn. The only two-parter that I feel really works is Kill Bill, and I still would prefer that to be one volume (I'm still waiting for The Whole Bloody Affair to come out...please let it be soon). It all just feels like a blatant cash grab and I feel it will really disrupt the flow of the story. Well, at least we now have YA film tropes to go along with book tropes. In addition to having a love triangle, if it's a series the final volume will now ALWAYS be split into two movies to make people pay twice to see the finale.

If they are concerned about the time, make it a longer movie. But, I can almost guarantee you that a single, complete, taut 2.5 hour movie will make a better movie and experience than two meandering, unfocused 1.5-2 hour movies.
Lsana
2. Lsana
I can't think of a good reason to divide Mockingjay into two movies. It's no longer than any of the other books. It doesn't have any more plot than they do. If you can do Hunger Games in one movie (and they did), and do Catching Fire in one movie (which apparently they think they can), why stretch Mockingjay into 2? I guess it's just what's done now: when you adapt a series of kid's books into movies, you make the last one into two movies, whether it needs it or not.

Obviously, it's still a long way off, but I right now I'm thinking you can count me out for this one. Mockingjay was a hard book to read, and by about the midway point, I no longer cared whether District 13 or the Capitol won. I would have been hard pressed to sit through one movie based on it. I can't see myself sitting through two.
Bridget McGovern
3. BMcGovern
I'm assuming that the decision was a purely commercial one, since I can't seem to come up with a compelling plot-based argument for splitting Mockingjay in half, either. The studio suddenly has a huge hit on its hands, and dividing up the last book means squeezing out the maximum profit from the franchise. For every purist who refuses to abide this sort of meddling, there's probably a hundred more people who don't particularly care about the details and just want to be entertained, and then there are fans who might be slightly annoyed, but have gotten hooked in by the first couple of films and are bound to stick with the series through the grand finale.

I'm not excusing or agreeing with their strategy, but it makes purely financial sense from the studio's perspective. I barely remember the penultimate Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Damp Sadness? There was a fair amount of camping and depression, from what I recall), but I sat through it to get to the last film, which I ultimately enjoyed. In the case of the Hunger Games, I'd certainly prefer for them to stick to the trilogy, but if they play up the action effectively, stay focused on Katniss and don't get bogged down in Team Gale vs. Team Peeta nonsense, I'll stay along for the ride.
Rich Bennett
4. Neuralnet
Like all the other posts, I am underwhelmed by this idea. At least with Harry Potter there was a lot of material to cover... I could kind of justify 2 movies. The last hunger games book doesnt seem substantial enough and there is too much inner turmoil in it that wont really make a good movie, let alone 2 movies. my guess is the second movie will focus on the battle for the capital... first movie will be everything leading up to that. I really was surprised by how much I liked the first HG movie... I have a bad feeling it is all downhill from here.
Scott Silver
5. hihosilver28
@Bridget
"Harry Potter and the Damp Sadness" HAHA, yes that exactly! That gave me a much needed chuckle here at work. This summer of movies is both exhilarating and depressing. I love the original work that we've seen so far this year, but between Spiderman and news like this...it's aggravating to see the Hollywood system making purely monetary based decisions. That's not to say that Amazing Spider-man and Mockingjay Pts I&II are/will be bad movies, but the decisions leading up to them are not made to preserve artistic merit and intent. And this makes me sad. It also makes me sad because the established series will mean that the studio will be rewarded for this kind of crap and we'll get an inherently inferior movie than if it was one movie. That's what aggravates me most, is that it's not a victimless crime, by splitting up the book, it destroys the pacing and flow that Collins came up with by writing the books. Mainly, I hate seeing half a movie and paying for a full one.
Lsana
6. Lsana
@3,

I wouldn't necessarily assume that it makes financial sense from the studio's perspective. I certainly don't think it's as simple as "two movies will make twice the money of one." Whether or not this works I think will depend greatly on how they do with Catching Fire. If it's as good as the first movie, the gamble will probably pay off: pretty much everyone who would have seen a single movie will see at least the first one, and some percent will stick it out to the bitter end. If, on the other hand, Catching Fire kind of sucks, then I think they're running a serious risk of the following scenario:

1. Moviegoers are no longer so enamored of the series that they will go see another Hunger Games movie no matter what.
2. Mockingjay I isn't all that good because they're trying to stretch the plot to fill two movies.
3. Even after sitting through this mediocre movie, you don't get any resolution to the series and will be expected to shell out yet again if you want the ending.

1+2+3 = "I'll wait for DVD" or "Eh, I'm sure it will be on cable eventually."

Money almost has to be why the studio is doing it, but that doesn't mean that they're right. I personally would have waited to make this call until after I got audience reaction to Catching Fire.
Lauren W
7. laurene135
Here's my two cents:
If they could contain all the epicness of Lord of the Rings in three movies, than other stories (especially ones much smaller than the LotR books--hello Mockingjay) should be able to as well, and their cry of "just too much story for one movie!" falls onto my unsympathetic ears.
Lsana
8. xrobzix
i am thrille dthey do it in two parts, the book started slow for me, and if they would have not done it they would have rushed a lot of things, where i will think the splitting part will happen cracking the nut too, the gun shot might be dark to end on but will keep those that did not read the book something to ponder about, the book also worked up to this part only to go into high gear in the attack on the citadel, theepic ness of the lord of the rings on the other hand were movies with another hour into it where they cut out a lot of small things and went into book 3 in the 2nd movie, so book 3 was also cut in half in sorts,

the turmoil katniss is in , needs to be shown greatly else some actions wont make sense, and yes mocking jay is shorter than return of the king, but in return of the king just so much unimportand stuff happend it went on and on, mockingjay spends time on showing katniss as the heroine even tough she doesnt want to be and doesnt know her strength yet,
where snow is just an evil jerk and coin a meanie so we need to see katniss grow into the mockingjay ifthat will be rushed it will loose a lot of impact during the assault,
Deana Whitney
9. Braid_Tug
Ending with the Nut would be best. Yes, depressing.
And totally a grab for more money and the chance to make it more about the "romance."

Sorry, I just don't see the stories as a romance, unless it's the unrequited kind. She cares about Gail as a BUDDY. But he's cute, so let's make it more Hollywood, by all means. ugh...

Likw #7 said, if you can put all of the LoR in three movies, the Hunger Games should be a snap.
Lsana
10. cj_wildcat
My big question is why split Mockingjay and not Catching Fire? I agree that there's enough action for two Mockingjay movies, but Catching Fire has much more to cover and would make so much more sense to split. I don't get this trend of splitting up the final installment of the series, but not any of the middle ones that warrant it (Goblet of Fire, I'm staring right at you!)
Lsana
11. xrobzix
1248 pages for lord of the rings

1381 pages for the hunger games trilogy

that are 133 pages MORE than LOTR in the samesize oof books
further more like i said LOTR had a lot of useless floatsome things they gladly cut out for pacing of the movie, where lord of the rings movies were 3 hours and thus longer than the hunger games, would you like to see a 4 hour movie ? or even longer so you can have your one movie?
Lsana
12. TJ The Movie Man
Seriously? Would they quit this habit of "Splitting the Final Film" they're just trying to double their income. They may aswell split every book they adapt into three movies each! Much more money that way.
Sky Thibedeau
13. SkylarkThibedeau
"Mockingjay II:the Search For More Money" Hollywood is run by accountants and splitting the finale in two is their way to maximize profits.

They are doing the same thing with the Hobbit.
Lsana
14. karlijn3rd
lol nice spaceballs reference you made there skylark,
butlike someone on here already said the epicness of lord of the rings 3 was also cut in 2 , the part withthe spider is in the 3rd book and not the second but was in the second movie, i understand you all as you say its just for the money, it is , but what is not just for the money now a days?
just be glad there is no hungergames video game, hunger games board game, hunger games trading card game, hunger games summer camps,

so yes they cut mocing jay in 2 get over it
Scott Silver
15. hihosilver28
I think why this is upsetting, besides the money aspect is the nature of storytelling in general. When you have a three-act structure built into the story that you are adapting, splitting it inherently ruins that structure. Then you remove any resolution from one of the movies and you remove all of the story and tension building from the other. Granted, both combined will give you that...but only when you can watch both back to back. I say take some extra time for the movie, make the pacing taut, and you'll have a much better movie overall.
James Whitehead
16. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@13SkylarkThibedeau, at least Jackson's logic for splitting The Hobbit into two movies is the amount of material he's adding to it (e.g., The White Council confronts the Necromancer, Arwen & Aragorn meet, possibly fleshing out the dwarf orc wars in Moria, etc...)

I have faith that Jackson is not doing this just for a money grab; he earned a great deal of geek cred from me for his LoTR movies. The studios might like it that way, but only if it pans out. They'll be on the hook for two potentially weak films as opposed to one tightly made one.

I have not read the Hunger Games series but my kids liked them - well the first two anyway, neither child was very impressed with the third one. So one hopes for the fans' sakes anyway, that there is a vision behind this decision; a method to their madness, so to speak.

Kato
Lsana
17. DJMat
Mockingmore? Not being an intense fan of the series I can perhaps claim an outside view to the issue of split vs not to split. Three quick things. One, sure money is likey at least one motive...always is, always will be. Second, perhaps the producers were of the opinion that there was too much story for one film. More "Game" being more goodness for all, one would hope. Third, the whole thing will depend on the screenplays. Movies are not books (Duh!) and what you can bring to the screen is such a small part of the book that one would hope for a balance of story, tension building, resolution, etc., etc., etc. within each film...allowing each to work well on its own. And fourth, (yeah, I know I said three...sue me) if I were a screenwriter I surely would be attempting to produce the best work possible as my reputation and future would rest on the result. Let's hope for two great films instead of one. Anyway, they didn't ask us for input, so this is all moot.
Debbie Solomon
18. dsolo
Mockingjay is not long enough for 2 movies. It's the same length as the other two, with extra angst thrown in (which is why I would hate to sit through it for 2 movies). Breaking Dawn and Deathly Hallows were at least very long books.
Lsana
19. xrobzix
but hwere the firt 2 books had a lot of dead moments, mockingjay has less of that and thus more story, in catchingfire there is a lot aboutt he victory tour, if they wantto show every little thing it would take a lot of time , but i guess they only do the important things and a montage of the other stuff, where in mockingjay they need to spend more time on prim becuas when youknow happens you will feel sad or sorry , if they rush that the impact of it that was in the books will be lost

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