‘Mockingjay’ Dissected: Enough Material For Two Movies?

In this week's Hobnobbing, we look at the pros and cons of a two-part finale to 'The Hunger Games

Following in the footsteps of previous YA juggernauts “Harry Potter” and “The Twilight Saga,” the third novel of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling “Hunger Games” series, “Mockingjay,” will be split in two for its cinematic re-telling.

It had long been speculated that “Mockingjay” would become a pair of films, though Lionsgate officially confirmed the rumors Tuesday, scheduling Thanksgiving-adjacent release dates for “Part 1″ (November 21, 2014) and “Part 2″ (November 20, 2015).

This news raised plenty of questions among Panem watchers, most notably about where the volume should be split. Our friends over at NextMovie had several suggestions for the perfect cliffhangery cut, but I think there is a more fundamental question here: Is there really enough material to warrant two films? My answer: No… and yes. Let’s break it down:

No: If we look at the material from a numbers perspective (and I’m not talking currency, here), there’s really no need to break up “Mockingjay.” All three volumes in Collins’ trilogy have roughly the same number of pages, give or take 10 or 15, meaning if “The Hunger Games” could be adapted into a single film, so too should “Mockingjay.” Besides, it’s the job of a top-notch director to cut unnecessary details and plot points from what would otherwise be a bloated five-hour adaptation. Gary Ross did just that when he left out Madge Undersee, for example, the daughter of District 12′s mayor and the girl who gives Katniss her signature Mockingjay pin.

Also — and this is point is more a matter of quality rather than quantity — while there are multiple places “Mockingjay” could be split, I’m not sure there is a place it should be split. If you think back to “Breaking Dawn” (forgive me for the “Twilight” reference, but it’s the most recent germane example I have), Bella’s transformation was a logical place to split the book, leaving “Part 1″ essentially about her human life and “Part 2″ essentially about her vampire life. No such point exists in “Mockingjay” — at least for me.

Yes: OK, sure the number of pages in the series’ three installments don’t differ greatly, but you can’t deny there is a lot going on in “Mockingjay,” perhaps more so than “Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire.” To wit, we find our heroes Katniss and Peeta staged in no fewer than three major locations, including Districts 12, 13 and the Capitol. That’s a lot of ground to cover and not feel rushed. Plus, with a double dose of “Mockingjay,” the director (whoever he or she will be) can include fan-favorite moments that may otherwise hit the cutting room floor in a more condensed version.

As to the splitting point, it will also be the director’s job to craft the first film’s narrative in such a way that leaves fans wanting more. A task any talented helmer should be game for.

Do you think “Mockingjay” is meaty enough for two movies? Sound off in the comments below and tweet me @amymwilk with your thoughts and suggestions for future columns!

Earlier “Hunger Games” columns:

» Comic-Con 2012: A Guide For “Hunger Games” Fans
» “Hunger Games”: The Week In Casting Rumors
» “Brave,” “Hunger Games” And The History Of Lady Archers
» “Catching Fire” In IMAX: Time To Embrace The Big, Big Screen?
» “Hunger Games”: Five Things We Learned At Movie Awards