Recently, Hollywood filmmakers are splitting up book-based movies faster than Scientology is splitting up marriages. Just yesterday, it was announced that Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, is going to be made into two separate films. Our response: Holy Twilight-copying-Harry-Potter hell!
It's no small wonder that Lionsgate has decided to do the ol' part-one and part-two deal with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. This is an easy way to double profits just when the cash cow is about to go dry. Just look at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts one and two. They made more than $2 billion worldwide. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 made about $705,058,657 worldwide, and part two is expected to exceed that.
But that's just the money. No movie franchise is ever successful without the heart (the Star Wars prequels don't count; they had leftover heart from episodes IV, V, and VI to drive fans to theaters). So the real question is: What do the fans think?
Generally, we think they want the core of the story to remain the same with as many details left alone as possible. Despite the many changes in the book-to-movie adaptation, Deathly Hallows parts one and two delivered the same powerful themes that the book did, bringing diehard fans to tears (a happy kind of weeping). Initially, critics suggested that Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was slow and perhaps not even necessary. That mentality lasted only until they saw Part 2, which was deemed a success. It was action-packed, heartbreaking, and a great end to that series. And it wouldn't have been possible without Part 1.
Although they get a bad rap, Twilight fans likely feel pretty much the same way. To be fair, they tend to go from zero to Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction pretty quickly, some even going so far as to tattoo Robert Pattinson's face on their backs. But most Twilight fans live in the realm of sanity, loving the books despite a lack of critical acclaim.
The same goes for the movies. Twilight: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 told a story in 117 minutes that probably could've been told in half that time. It also kept up Twilight's tradition of abysmal reviews, earning a mere 25 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes tomatometer, the lowest rating of all the Twilight films. But as we've seen many times before, bad reviews don't mean a movie won't make money (cough, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -- cough). Only time will tell if Part 1 provided the necessary setup to make Part 2 really sparkle.
So does Mockingjay meet all the right checkpoints to be worthy of being divided into two movies? Well, fans will probably love the chance to see more Peeta-Katniss-Gale action. A two-parter does make it more feasible to explore the complex themes of loss, recovery, and love that really peaked in Mockingjay. Plus, there's a chance to see more of the amazing Elizabeth Banks as Effie. The Hunger Games books were more critically acclaimed than Twilight, and as we've seen from Harry Potter, having good source material can give a film a leg up on making a movie worthy of its fans' money.
Is splitting Mockingjay just another Hollywood scramble for profit, or is it a way to stay true to books that are adored by millions? With Harry Potter, it was both. Maybe, just maybe, this will be too.