Thursday, June 2, 2011

Helpful or Harmful? The Pros and Cons of Dividing Popular Books into Two Movies

So just yesterday one of the executive producers of The Hunger Games said in an interview that the uber popular trilogy written by Suzanne Collins will be made into four films. I'm not sure how I feel about this. This new trend of stretching popular franchises across two movies can be very useful and enjoyable, but it can also be harmful.


HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: The movie that started this trend. In HP's case I think turning the final book into 2 movies was a great choice. I'm an avid Potter fan and I am often disappointed by how much is left out of the movies. (Peeves, S.P.E.W., Quidditch in movie 5, the back story of the Marauders, etc.) It is widely acknowledged that Order of the Phoenix is the worst film in the series and that's because there was just not enough time to tell the complete story and it left audiences who hadn't read the books incredibly confused and annoyed. How is Voldemort's presence affecting Harry? What exactly is this prophecy? If Harry and Cho don't talk to each other, why are they randomly making out? By turning DH into 2 movies the filmmakers have 5 hours translate the 750-page book to screen as opposed to just 2.5 hours. Part 1 was so good and I have high hopes that Part 2 will blow me away.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN: First let me start off by saying that I have read all 4 Twilight books and I live with the regret every day of my life. So little happens in Breaking Dawn that there is barely enough material to make 1 movie. Seriously, the entire middle section of the book, the part narrated by Jacob, could have been 1 chapter instead of 150 pages. Unless the filmmakers have created some amazing new plots, these films are going to be a disaster. And I will be there opening weekend to witness the self-destruction of Summit Entertainment's standards. Of course they will make zillions of dollars so Summit probably doesn't care...

THE HOBBIT: I can't decide if splitting this book is good idea or a bad idea. Let's face it, with the Lord of the Rings extended editions each running about 4 hours they're basically already 6 movies, but each one is SO good you never feel like the story is dragging. I am usually not a fan of drawn out action sequences, but I adore the characters so much that the four hours breeze by very quickly. If Peter Jackson can work his magic again and make both parts of The Hobbit as amazing as LOTR, then it will be a success. However, Jackson's first movie after LOTR was a remake of King Kong that ran about 3 hours. I found that I didn't care as much about the characters (I have a natural aversion to Jack Black to begin with) so the long, mindless action sequences bored me. So we'll just have to wait and see.

THE HUNGER GAMES: Okay, turning these books into 4 movies will only work under one circumstance: They should NOT choose one book to turn into two movies. Instead they should mush the three books into one continuous story and then slice it into quarters. None of the books has enough content to be two movies on its own, but I do think there is enough content overall to be four movies. There are definitely some sequences that I would like to see more fleshed out than they are in the books. **SPOILER ALERT** For example, the victory tour in Catching Fire goes by so quickly. It would be cool to see the other districts in more detail. With four movies, the filmmakers will also be able to include some of the smaller plot developments. My favorite part of the third book, Mockingjay, is what we learn about Finnick's back story and why the women in The Capitol love him so much. That's a plot point that would probably be lost due to time constraints. **END SPOILER ALERT**

Obviously, the reason studios are jumping at the opportunity to milk these franchises for all they're worth is because it means big bucks for them. After DVD and merchandise sales, each Potter film has made approximately 1 billion dollars (yeah, billion with a 'B'), so clearly Warner Brothers would be thrilled to have an eighth film. In the eyes of studio executives, making movies is first and foremost a business and art of film making comes second.

No comments:

Post a Comment