The Inevitable Final Book Movie Split
When it was announced that Mockingjay would be split into 2 movies, it was a met with controversy. No one was really surprised – the precedent had been set with Harry Potter and Twilight. For big movie franchises, it gives the opportunity for all involved to make more money. It can be a very good business decision. And for fans, when it’s done well, it’s great too. More of the stuff that you love.
As I remember it, people who were against Mockingjay being split into two complained that 1) it was a blatant money grab and 2) Mockingjay is too dark of a book to run for two movies. And, yes, a big complaint of Mockingjay is that you’re stuck in Katniss’s head the entire time, and Katniss is in a very dark place. Because she’s mentally ill, it can be a tough read emotionally. But the story itself is solid. The world building is solid. The brilliant thing about a movie adaptation is that the perspective can be broadened. In the movie adaptations of Mockingjay we’ll be able to see beyond what Katniss sees, to the decisions made behind closed doors in 13, the other districts, and the Capitol. We get to go deeper into this world, so all of this is exciting. And after Catching Fire, we’re confident that Francis Lawrence will be able to execute this in spades. Lionsgate gets a big thumbs up on the making of Mockingjay 1 and 2. Party till it’s November 2015!
But what happens after November 2015? Today came the announcement that the Divergent movie franchise would be following this same pattern of splitting the final book into 2 movies. The pattern continues, and the collective snark about this decision is strong. I know we’re not a Divergent site, but the movies are being made by a Lionsgate company and as Hunger Games fans, we are the bullseye target market for these films. ALSO WE ARE GETTING NO MOCKINGJAY NEWS TO TALK ABOUT, SO -
I just had to laugh, because no, it’s not exactly a blatant cash grab. It’s a very risky attempt at a cash grab. The decision to split HP, Twilight, and THG came after these movies became mega-successes so it was clear the extra movie would make huge money. I don’t think that assumption can be made here yet. And the odds are even more against if because it’s doubtful that this particular book can support two solid movies or 4 hours of collective screen time.
Allegiant is a very divisive book. The most passionate of fans love Allegiant, but beyond that group, Allegiant is negatively viewed and not just because of the ending. For me, everything I had liked about the first 2 books came crashing down with Allegiant. I was uncertain about seeing the Allegiant movie at all because I felt so burned by the book. But 2 movies? It’s adding insult to injury.
The negative perception of the book isn’t news to Summit/Lionsgate, so for the sake of their stock price, they better have one hell of a plan to make this work. Best case scenario – maybe some of the elements that are criticized – the uneven characterization, the world building, the plot – can be improved with a good screenwriter and director to create enjoyable and entertaining movies. The movies also won’t be burdened by chapter by chapter POV switching between Tris and Tobias. However, that’s a dicey situation, because if you change the story, your core fans who love the book are going to be angry and may not support it (or just go see it once, which is damning for the profitability of these movies). And you can’t draw in those who read the book and didn’t like it unless there’s been big changes. Major doubts on this decision. Massively huge doubts.
Good luck to all involved, because it was always going to be a challenge to adapt Allegiant, and now you’ve given yourself twice the job.