The Hunger Games franchise has been criticized for splitting its final movie, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, into two parts, but Katniss’ story greatly benefitted from this decision. It’s common for film franchises, especially those adapted from young adult book series, to do something like this to drag out the story for another installment and, therefore, rake in a little extra cash. This can be frustrating for book and movie fans alike since it means a longer wait for the big finale and more money spent. However, in some cases, such as with The Hunger Games, releasing the finale in two parts may have been the right call.

The Hunger Games franchise wrapped up its initial story in 2015 with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 in 2015. Now, several years later, director Francis Lawrence is returning for the prequel film The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is expected to be a single-installment film, just as the book it’s based on is a single-installment novel. Regarding the decision to wrap up young Coriolanus Snow’s story in one movie, Lawrence noted (via Screen Rant) that he regretted splitting Mockingjay into two parts since he is aware of the common criticism that the move felt “disingenuous.” Of course, Lawrence wasn’t the first to do something similar.

In addition to The Hunger Games‘ two-part finale, several other YA book adaptations have done the same. The Harry Potter franchise made Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a two-parter, and given the series’ high box-office numbers, this felt like a cash grab. The same is true for the Twilight movies with Breaking Dawn. While audiences were excited to see the climactic ending they had invested years of time and money to see, the studios seemed more interested in stretching out the success of these franchises as much as possible.

This is especially frustrating since books like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows certainly could have benefitted from two full movies, but rather than including essential plot points, the films threw in moments and details that had never been in the books to begin with. In the case of Breaking Dawn, too much time was focused on drawn-out storylines, such as Bella’s pregnancy and Alice’s visions, so the two films felt far slower than was needed.

Though Lawrence has stated regret over breaking The Hunger Games: Mockingjay into two parts, it’s one of the few book-to-screen adaptations that did it right. Though plenty was left out of or added to the movie compared to the book, the major plot points were all covered. So, by the end of the two films, it was easier to have a solid idea of what had happened and why without having already read the book. Additionally, Lawrence managed to retroactively improve the plot of Mockingjay by drawing out aspects of the book that had been rushed.

The second part of the Mockingjay book was a flurry of information. Katniss went to the Capitol, and in what seemed like no time at all, she was at the President’s Mansion watching her sister die. She was taken prisoner, held captive, and sent back to District 12, and before we knew it, she was watching Peeta play with their children in the epilogue. It was an impactful ending to a phenomenal book series, but it happened fast. In contrast, the Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 was able to dedicate a little more time to the conclusion of Katniss’ story, and this wouldn’t have been possible if Lawrence hadn’t made the call to extend the story.

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