Here's something I should have seen coming a mile away: Lionsgate has announced that they'll be splitting Suzanne Collins' final book in the Hunger Games series into two films. Part 1 of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay will be released in November 2014, and Part 2 will follow in November 2015.
It's hardly a surprising move, so why am I so surprised? I guess there's a part of me that still thinks of this wildly popular YA series as somehow different from the other wildly popular YA series. Hey, Twilight may have been about merchandising and profits and milking every last drop from its sparkly cash cow, but Hunger Games is, like, about the STORY, man.
Well, it's true we'll be getting more of the story, cinematically speaking. But I think it'd be more accurate to say that Lionsgate knows exactly how to work a franchise for maximum payout.
I realize it's a little early to be voicing an artistic objection over a couple of sequels I haven't even seen yet, but it's such a blatant cash grab by the studio I can't help feeling like it affects the quality perception of the entire franchise. Instead of being excited by the prospect of seeing 4.5+ hours' worth of Mockingjay storyline, I'm a little turned off knowing that I'm going to have to wait a full year between Part I and Part II.
Plus, I can't lie -- Mockingjay was my least favorite book of the series, much like Breaking Dawn was my least favorite of the Twilight books. I'd have much rather seen Lionsgate expand the first book into two movies, but of course they had a big enough challenge proving that they could pull off an adaptation at all.
Personal preferences aside, it's clear that dragging out the last book in a well-loved series is a savvy box office move these days. (See also: Breaking Dawn 1 and 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 and 2, etc.) Now that the studio has announced its decision about Mockingjay, fans can begin the process of pondering about how, exactly, they'll choose to break up the story.
*MAJOR SPOILER TALK AHEAD!*
Mockingjay starts with Katniss reluctantly morphing into the symbol of the rebellion struggle, District 13 is under attack, and Peeta's captured by the Capitol. Peeta is eventually rescued, but oh no, it turns out he's brainwashed. Urban warfare ensues, with the rebels assaulting the Capitol and Snow's mansion and gah, Prim gets killed. Katniss becomes suspicious of Gale, she kills President Coin, Snow is dead, Katniss tries to kill herself, and then it's 20 years later and she's, like, married to Peeta with two kids.
It's kind of a flustercluck of a book, right? I'm not sure there's a clean break in the story where it makes sense to split it, but if I had to guess, I'd say the first movie will be lots of war n' violence, with the cliffhanger being Surprise: Brainwashed Peeta! The second movie could be the Snow/Coin drama and Katniss's eventual realization that it was Peeta all along. *giant romantic sigh*
(STILL BITTER. TEAM GALE.)
Of course, I could be way off base -- but the fact that I'm even theorizing about it just shows how I've played right into Lionsgate's profitable little paws. Damn you, manipulative movie studios! See you in 2013, 2014, and 2015 I GUESS.
What's your reaction to Mockingjay being split into two movies? Where do you think they can break up the story?
Image via Amazon