Hunger Games’ Francis Lawrence Explains Why He ‘Totally Regrets’ Splitting Mockingjay Into Two Parts

After the Harry Potter films split the final book in the series, The Deathly Hallows, into two separate films, tons of book adaptations followed in its footsteps in the years to follow, including the ending of The Hunger Games movies, Mockingjay. As Francis Lawrence, the director behind both Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 (along with Catching Fire), returns to the franchise for its upcoming prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the filmmaker shared some remorse over the controversial decision.  

A popular opinion among Hunger Games fans is the thought that Mockingjay really didn’t need to be split into two movies, and it didn’t do them any favors. The decision felt like one motivated by making more money on the franchise on its way out than anything else. Here’s what Lawrence said about the whole thing now: 

I totally regret it. I totally do. I’m not sure everybody does, but I definitely do.

In a recent interview with People, Francis Lawrence shared that at the time, the filmmaking team behind the franchise felt that “two halves of Mockingjay had their own separate dramatic questions,” but he completely understands why it led to backlash. As he continued: 

What I realized 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 realized it was frustrating. And I can understand it… In 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.

Audiences were asked to wait a year between the events of Mockingjay Part 1, which came out in November 2014, and Mockingjay Part 2, which hit theaters in November 2015. Lawrence expanded further on filming the final Mockingjay story across two films:  

In truth, 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, I see and understand how it frustrated people.

It would be another story if Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay was significantly longer than the other Hunger Games books, but it’s 390 pages long, which is one page less than Catching Fire and just 16 pages longer then the first Hunger Games book. With that in mind, there really wasn’t a major reason to split the book into half, and as a result, the last two films are highly regarded as the worst of the franchise. (You can check out our ranking of all the Hunger Games films to see for yourself why). Part 1 in particular feels rather drawn out and more a part of a whole than a complete movie. 

Due to the backlash his Mockingjay movies received, Lawrence made the decision to have The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes be one movie. He shared there was “a real conversation” about it, especially since it’s a “long book,” finding its word count a few pages over 500. Since he got “so much shit” for splitting up the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, he decided to make it the “longest Hunger Games movie” instead. The upcoming book adaptation has a runtime of two hours and 36 minutes. 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is coming to theaters on November 17. Stay up to date on 2023 new movie release dates here on CinemaBlend. 

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