TV & Movies

Hunger Games Director “Totally Regrets” Splitting Up Mockingjay

Francis Lawrence wanted to adapt the third Hunger Games book as one “big movie.”

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Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence now regrets dividing 'Mockingjay' into two movies.

The early 2010s saw multiple blockbuster film franchises come to an end — but not before studios split their final installments into two movies to up their box office earnings. The Hunger Games series was among them: The third book in Suzanne Collins’ original trilogy became 2014’s Mockingjay – Part 1 and 2015’s Part 2, both of which were directed by Francis Lawrence.

Nine years later, though, the filmmaker no longer thinks a two-part cinematic conclusion was the right call.

Why MockingJay Was Split

Back in 2014, Lawrence, who took over the series starting with the second film, Catching Fire, explained that splitting the book gave viewers two clear stories. In Mockingjay – Part 1, “Katniss is finally taking on the role as the symbol of the revolution and starting to step up and fight back.”

But the dramatic question is: Will we get Peeta back?” Lawrence told BuzzFeed in November 2014. He described Part 2’s objective, on the other hand, as “Let’s go get Snow.”

At the time, splitting finale films in two was a trend. Lionsgate announced that it would release Mockingjay - Part 1 and Mockingjay - Part 2 separately in July 2012, per Entertainment Weekly. Not coincidentally, the move came after the final Harry Potter and Twilight movies had already been split into two and achieved huge financial success.

Regrets In Hindsight

Almost a decade later, however, Lawrence had a change of heart. On Oct. 18, Lawrence spoke to People about the approach and explained that he doesn’t see it as the right one anymore. “I totally regret it,” he said. “I totally do. I’m not sure everybody does, but I definitely do.”

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“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,” he told People. “And I can understand it.”

A month later, on Nov. 16, Lawrence echoed the same sentiments in an appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. In an interview clip, Cohen asked the director if he stands by “splitting Mockingjay into two movies.” Lawrence answered, “I do not. I would make it one big movie. That’s it. I totally regret splitting up those movies.”

Lawrence continued: “Originally we thought we could do two really significantly different movies but we were making people wait a year.” Comparing it to TV, he added, “It’s not like an episode where you can wait a week and then you can see the next. We were forcing people to wait a year to see the finale.”

The director also revealed that though they shot both movies at once, he had virtually little say in the staggered release dates. “It was planned. Even before I was hired to do all of the movies that was already the plan,” Lawrence said.

Fans Are Divided

Fans flocked to TikTok’s comments section to voice their take on the finale films — and much like they were 10 years ago, they’re still divided.

One who was vehemently against splitting the films said, “I was so upset I had to wait a year. I waited until after the second [mockingjay] to buy the full box set movies.”

Some, however, defended Lawrence’s choice. “I actually disagree, one movie would’ve been too rushed into,” said one TikTok user. Another chimed in: “To be honest, I love that MockingJay is split. Because I feel like we get more details from the book that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”

Still, Lawrence’s takeaway was to not do that to fans again. When it came to directing the series’ prequel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, not even the book’s length made him consider dividing it up. “I was like, ‘No way. I’ll just make a longer movie,’” he added in his People interview.

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