Quick! Split that movie into two parts!

April 15, 2014 Discussion 12


Guys, we need to talk about books being adapted into movies. Specifically, we need to talk about splitting the last movie of a franchise into two parts. Is it necessary? Are the movie guys seeing a market that will pay whatever they can to see their favourite character on the big screen, and getting a little greedy? Are audiences not wanting to let go and forcing people to split up a story into two parts?

• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows •

Let’s begin here, with the 7th book of Rowling’s series being split into two movies.

Did it need to be two movies?

In my opinion, NO. If they were going to break any of the seven books into two movies, it should have been Order of the Phoenix. I’ve been told reliably by a few people who haven’t read the books (they do exist!) that it the movie of Order of the Phoenix makes no sense without having the context of the book. It’s apparently disjointed and assumes the audience knows about lots of things that happen off-screen, except that people who haven’t read the books DON’T KNOW THAT.

There’s quite a lot of material to get through in the fifth book, and it really is one of the more emotional books in the series. In contrast, there are large chunks of Deathly Hallows where nothing happens, which the movies deal with by having long montages.

So in my opinion, the seventh Harry Potter book didn’t need to be made into two movies.

• Breaking Dawn •

There is not enough material in that book for this movies. Yes, it’s a long book, the longest of the series, but in terms of real content that could be taken to the screen, there isn’t enough for two movies.

One of the things I hated about the Twilight movies is the heavy breathing and long pauses between the lines the actors said – it felt like the franchise was based on artificially extending each scene to make the movies longer.

In the Breaking Dawn book, there’s a lot of internal stuff that Bella goes through, but in the movie I think it just got ridiculous how everything was stretched out to fill two movies.

• The Hobbit •

I love Middle Earth. I spend a significant part of every year re-reading books Tolkien set in the world. I speak Quenya (THE THINGS y’all don’t know about me!), but maybe not very well.

There was enough material in The Hobbit, The Unfinished Tales, The Lost Tales and the Histories of Middle Earth in this time period to make two solid movies. There is not enough material, in my opinion, to fill three movies.

I love watching the original three The Lord of the Rings movies. I have the extended versions. I have the soundtracks and the scores and the complete recordings. I love what Peter Jackson did with those movies.

I don’t like watching the movie adaptations of The Hobbit. Every single scene feels too bloody long. Everything happens for longer than necessary. If we’re walking, we walk for a few minutes more than I want to watch. If we’re setting up the scene, there’s one or two more shots of mountains or grass or rivers than I want to see. If we’re fighting, I tend to get BORED watching the fighting because it’s gone on too long.

When we’re talking about extending movies artificially, we have to acknowledge this is one of the worst offenders.

• Mockingjay •

We know that Mockingjay will be split up into two movies. I’m undecided about how I feel about this.

Mockingjay is written so there’s a fair bit of action that happens without Katniss, and maybe there is enough material there to warrant splitting the movie into two parts. I guess we can all judge when Part One comes out. However, my gut instinct is that the move is unnecessary.

• Allegiant •

Image Credit: Hypable.com

It’s been announced recently that Allegiant will also be split into two movies. Allegiant, Part 1 will be released March 18, 2016 and Allegiant, Part 2 will be released March 24, 2017.

I don’t really think that’s necessary. I mean, in a way I realise that in a film, the world will need to kind of be introduced again. Everything is different and maybe a chunk of that movie will be about re-establishing the characters in the changed world. There’s also a bunch of stuff left out of Allegiant that could provide source material.

But, I don’t think there’s more going on in Allegiant when compared to the other two books, so if the other two are fine as one movie each, why is Allegiant being split into two?

And yeah, I get that the producers would probably want Roth to contribute to the expansion of stuff that isn’t in the book, but that’s kind of silly because usually you’re cutting things out of an adaptation, not frantically looking to add things in.

• Why?? •

So why?

Why does Hollywood suddenly think that we all want two movies of the last book in a franchise? Because it worked for Harry Potter? In my opinion, it only “worked” for Harry Potter in the sense that people went and saw both movies, even those who like me, thought it was unnecessary.

Honestly, my reaction when hearing Deathly Hallows was going to be split up was to say that the production company could see their gravy train leaving the station and they wanted to hold on to it for just a bit longer. Which is terribly uncharitable of me, but the more that this happens to book adaptations, the more I think I was close to the mark.

• Lionsgate and Warner Brothers •

It seems it’s Lionsgate and Warner Brothers who are doing this. They own most of the YA franchises these days and they’re the ones deciding that we need two films when the franchise is finishing. The Hobbit movies can be put down to Peter Jackson’s love of Middle Earth (and his hubris), but Summit did the Breaking Dawn movies and is doing the Divergent adaptations, and the Hunger Games movies are by Lionsgate, who merged with Summit a while ago.

So maybe it’s just Lionsgate/Summit?

• In Conclusion •

I think it’s unfair of the companies to do this if it’s not warranted. I don’t agree that all these book-to-movie adaptations needed two movies for the last movie. I think the target audience for these movies is in most cases too young to pay to see it for themselves. It’s one thing if I want to go and watch The Hobbit in three movies, but quite another when a kid between 12 and 16 wants to go see an adaptation of their favourite book, and their parents and guardians are walloped with having to pay to see two movies when the story have been told well with one. But of course, a successful business model looks at where the money is coming from, and then tests to see how far the target market will go. In this case, it’s pretty obvious that people, and their parents, will pay to see two parts of a movie.

I also don’t think boycotting or refusing to see/buy these movies is a positive solution – they’ll just stop making YA adaptations, and it’s great to finally see movies being made especially with this grossly overlooked audience in mind. I wish they had more respect for that audience, but baby steps, I guess.

I am looking forward to see how Allegiant and Mockingjay play out. Considering that these are the first split-the-book-into-two-movies scenarios where I can see where the extra material would be coming from and how it would help tell the story in a visual medium, these two movies might change this hateful trend for the better.

What do you think of this growing trend?

12 Responses to “Quick! Split that movie into two parts!”

  1. michelle A - Novels On The Run

    Great post Shaheen.

    I too didn’t like Harry Potter # 7 split into 2. I thought the same about Order of The Phoenix. Man, they did some stuff to that movie, it needed to be 2 movies. They changed stuff around to get it into one movie.

    But! There is another way of looking at all this. Apart from the fact we know it is a money making thing , making last books into 2 movies.

    It helps publishers too. They sell books!! Lots of them. Also peeps who haven’t read the series, may buy the books after seeing the movies. It’s always about $$$$. If I was the author of the books, I would be pretty chuffed to see my book in two movies. That would be a amazing, s long as it was done right. Veronica is only what 24 or 25 and what an achievement to have 4 movies for 3 of her books. Pretty darn brilliant.

    We of course don’t need to see it at the cinema and spend $$$ on two movies, we can wait to watch on DVD. So again it is the consumers choice what they do. I personally will always go see a movie on a book , 9/10 times, because I am a book nerd. It is my enjoyment, my thing. But of course book lovers can be the worst critiques too.

    I totally agree about the Hobbit. Something about those movies, makes me yawn. I LOVE the book! LOVE it. Nerd Alert here loves her Tolkien. I haven’t revisited from a long while as being a blogger we don’t have that luxury to reread books a lot. It’s always on to the next book..CHaaARGEEE!!

    I think certain movies deserve to be split and not just the last one, because it is the last one. That is getting a little cliche.

    I loved reading this posting. Well done!


    • Shaheen

      Hi! Thanks for commenting 😀

      I agree it’s consumer’s choice, but I think that the industry is showing a lack of respect for the target audience. Because teenagers are in a weird place in their lives where they aren’t kids and can’t expect their parents to pay for all the movies they see, but they usually aren’t earning a lot to begin with. Asking them to pay for two movies when the story could have been told in one isn’t very nice, I don’t think!

      I totally agree that it’s out choice to buy the DVDs, but then if too many people decided to not see these movies in the cinema and wait for a DVD, then they’d stop making them because “no one is watching”, especially since the sales on the first weekend after release tend to dictate whether sequels get made.

  2. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    Honestly, I don’t mind if they cut movies in half. My fangirilish heart cries, though, because I have to wait longer (part 1 of Mockingjay is going to KILL AND BURN AND LET ME DIE). Buuut, I mean, movie-making-people have to make a living too. And if we’re happy to be entertained by watching movies, I guess, why not??! x) But I do agree that it’s horrifically hard to sit through a movie knowing you have TO WAIT A FULL YEAR until it’s finished!!

    • Shaheen

      I agree that movie people need to make money too, but splitting movies in half is a bit like the trend of authors writing mostly unnecessary novellas and selling them for a few dollars EACH.

      Like, I totally get splitting a movie in half if it needs it, but in basically all the examples I’ve seen, it wasn’t necessary. And I’m not talking about making movies longer so that they can follow the books word-for-word. I’m just talking about how the MOVIES no longer work well as movies because there is either too much cut out like in HP5, or there’s too much added in like in The Hobbit franchise.

      I think adaptations are always going to be different from books, but if the industry is artificially splitting up movies when it’s not needed, then it’s just all about the money and it’s unfair to the people who have to pay twice to see two crap movies, when they could have paid once to see an amazing one.

  3. Trinity

    I agree it all seems to point to the dollars. (The only redeemable thing in Breaking Dawn Part 1 is Anna Kendrick’s wedding speech) I feel like pointing at LotR and saying look they managed to do it in 3! But apparently it all must be done in 3 for them now.

    I’d rather have 1 solid movie than 2 all right kinda laggy ones.

    I also still need to read Allegiant!

    • Shaheen

      Reeaadd ittt. Then get angry like everyone else lol. I haven’t reviewed it yet. I keep avoiding it because I’m like, maybe if I ignore it, it’ll go away or maybe the review will write itself. Which isn’t working.

  4. Kirstie

    My husband and I were lamenting this recently because he (FINALLY) read the Harry Potter books and as he finished each book we’d all re-watch the movies and we agreed you could have squished it into one, but we also debated then it might have been too rushed and long(the feeling you get for Order of the Phoenix).

    On the other hand – The Hobbit and Breaking Dawn. I haven’t watched the second one of either (though once it’s out on bluray I’ll probably buy and watch The Desolation of Smaug). If you can fit the LOTR nicely in to one book per movie, why did the Hobbit need to be pushed that far? Two movies would have been ok, but three makes me arch one eyebrow.

    Great post 🙂

    • Shaheen

      I loooovvee Middle Earth and it kills me to say this but OMG I just sometimes wish Jackson hadn’t adapted The Hobbit. Even though I love the casting and the score and everything, it’s just cinematically not working for me and I felt the stretching out much more in the second movie than the first. You know second book syndrome, where NOTHING HAPPENS OMFG? Well The Hobbit 2 almost feels like it has second movie syndrome. Everything is artificially expanded and I hate it.

  5. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    This is becoming an increasingly popular trend isn’t it? And I can’T help but feel that at it’s basis, it’s just about getting more profits for the film industry. I, for one, was for splitting Deathly Hallows in two. But then again I also agree that they should have split OotP in two, as well as GoF and HBP. Too many things were omitted from the bigger books and to be honest I just wanted ALL the details to be in the films. Other than that though, NO Breaking Dawn didn’t need to be split in two. I was one of the people blown away by the fact that they split the tiny little Hobbit book into not only two but THREE parts o.O

    And as much as I love the Hunger Games trilogy, I don’t think Mockingjay is a big enough book to warrant two films. Allegiant might be big enough but I wasn’t impressed with the book to begin with so I guess it doesn’t matter either way lol You make excellent points here Shaheen – great discussion ^^

    • Shaheen

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope Mockingjay and Allegiant make the two-movies thing work, otherwise I will just be a rage-monster about this trend.

  6. Astrid @ The Art of Dreaming

    I understand why film studios do this: they want to prolong the franchise and make more money (something I mentioned in my recent review of Divergent), but it makes me sad as both a film and book lover.

    The problem is that an author spends countless hours crafting a novel with a plot and character arcs in mind that is satisfying as a whole. When you break this into two, or three (like the Hobbit), you’re breaking the structure of the story itself. It leads to a less satisfying movie experience and ultimately does damage to the franchise (I think).

    I don’t believe any book (or very few) should be split into two. Both books and movies are mediums for story-telling and splitting a book into multiple parts dilutes the story and impact.

    There will always be more detail in a novel than can be put in a film, but reading is a different experience than watching a film. We should be able to experience and enjoy each in their own way.

    Thanks for starting such a great discussion! Love your blog! 🙂

  7. boy

    this whole article lost all credibility when the writer said deathly hallows did not need two films but mockingjay did. Sounds like another crazy YA fan girl that does not know simple logic. mockingjay is a 352 page book where nothing happens in the first half. deathly hallows is a 780 page book with a heavier plot, more action, more characters, more revelations and plot twist the list goes on.

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