The Big Picture
- The Hunger Games franchise director Francis Lawrence regrets splitting the final book into two films, as it frustrated fans and seemed opportunistic.
- The decision to split Mockingjay into two parts received criticism from fans and critics, and the final installment fell short in box office earnings compared to Part 1.
- To make up for the previous split, Lawrence refused to split The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and instead made a longer movie, which will be the longest Hunger Games film to date at 156 minutes.
Next month, the latest installment of The Hunger Games hits our screens. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel film adapted from a lengthy novel, will be released in theaters and unlike the finale of The Hunger Games, it will be released in one part, rather than split in two. This is a good thing for many fans, including the franchise director Francis Lawrence, who helms the sequel which revolves around the fall from grace of the villainous Coriolanus Snow.
Speaking with People, Lawrence — who directed the final three outings for Jennifer Lawrence‘s Katniss Everdeen — reflected on the decision to split the final Hunger Games book into two films, admitting that he learned from that experience for the better. Back in November 2014, Mockingjay: Part One graced the theaters, amassing an impressive worldwide box office revenue exceeding $755 million.
That said, there were some murmurs of discontent over the decision to launch the first half of a two-part presentation, which premiered in November 2015. Despite the final installment of the franchise still performing admirably, it fell short by about $100 million in global box office earnings when compared to Part 1. This suggested that some fans were less inclined to endure a full year’s wait for the conclusion, and felt that large aspects of the novel were extended unnecessarily as a result.
Lawrence and Lionsgate were, in fairness, doing what everybody else had done. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows had split its final, lengthy, book into two parts, but there were some arguments that the action-heavy book merited it, plus the series had a huge amount of goodwill for its decade-long, consistent output. When Twilight did the same thing with Breaking Dawn, eyebrows were raised.
By the time it got to The Hunger Games, it felt felt opportunistic and cash-driven. As Lawrence explains, it looked disingenuous to fans, even although that was never the filmmakers’ intentions.
“I totally regret it. I’m not sure everybody does, but I definitely do. What I realised in retrospect—and after hearing all the reactions and feeling the kind of wrath of fans, critics and people at the split—is that I realised it was frustrating. And I can understand it.
We got more on the screen out of the book than we would’ve in any of the other movies because you’re getting close to four hours of screen time for the final book, but n an episode of television, if you have a cliffhanger, you have to wait a week or you could just binge it and then you can see the next episode. But making people wait a year, I think, came across as disingenuous, even though it wasn’t. Our intentions were not to be disingenuous.”
Making It Up to Fans
As a make-do, Lawrence refused to allow the same to happen again, even though the prequel will serve as the longest Hunger Games film to date at 156 minutes. “I would never let them split the book in two,” Lawrence said. “There was never a real conversation about it. It’s a long book, but we got so much shit for splitting Mockingjay into two—from fans, from critics, from everybody—that I was like, ‘No way. I’ll just make a longer movie.’”
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes debuts in theaters on November 17.