Note: Mild spoilers for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (both parts of each movie) below.
If you're still with me after that mouthful of a title, thanks! Now, if you are a fan of YA books, or movies, you've probably noticed how movie companies take the final book in a series that they are adapting into a movie and split it into two parts; it happened with Harry Potter, Twilight, and it's happening right now with The Hunger Games. Each of these have three things in common:
- They are all YA
- Each of them were successful books where every installment in the series became a movie
- Each of them are also wildly popular movie franchises
It worked with everybody's favorite orphaned wizard, so other people are trying to imitate it. However, I find it interesting that all of the movies that have done this (or have had this done to them, depending on your perspective) are similar that they are all marketed mostly to teens, especially those who want an action-filled adventure with strong protagonists and a world unlike our own, whether it's a hidden underworld like Harry Potter or Twilight, or in a world that has been completely broken and rebuilt like in The Hunger Games. Sure, other movies have been split into multiple parts without being adaptions (I can't think of one, but they exist, I'm sure). As a side note, I'd like to mention the up-coming-but-still-far-off Avengers: Infinity War, which is going to be split into two parts. The adaption of a comic book storyline into a movie, especially a Marvel or DC one, is a separate discussion entirely that I might touch on in another article. This article is solely about YA novel adaptions.
Splitting the movies in two like this annoys many people, but I think that more goes into it than simply (possibly) making twice as much money; a lot of good can actually come from doing this. On the flip side, bad stuff can happen too because not every novel should, or even can be split in two like this. I think with the three major books this has happened to (The Deathly Hallows, Twilight, and Mockingjay) we've been lucky.
How We've Been Lucky So Far
Here's where the spoilers start. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the first movie cut off when Voldemort claimed the Elder Wand and Harry and the gang were at Bill and Fleur's. In the book, that marked a turning point; that was when Harry and his friends stopped searching for the Horcruxes, let's say somewhat passively, and afterwards, they went full force; they broke into Gringots, stole a dragon, and went to Hogwarts. The first part of Twilight: Breaking Dawn stopped when Bella became a vampire. Mockingjay had an ending similar to Harry Potter; the first part cut off after District 13 had gotten Peeta back from the clutches of the Capitol. About that time in the book, the fight against the Capitol became less political, with all of the propaganda and such, and become more of a fight with the rebel army marching on the Capitol. I think we've been lucky so far because the movies that have been split in two likes this are movies that have a good splitting point. Which leads me to...
Why It's Bad
This one is pretty obvious: stretching. Like I said, not every book is able to be stretched into two movies. I don't know about you, but I thought that the wedding scene in Breaking Dawn Part I was a little bit too long, and extended so that the movie could be split into two parts like that. I'll be honest: books do this too, adding filler scenes and chapters. But a movie is a completely different media format; I don't think that a movie can handle too much filler, regardless of whether this filler is a stretched scene or an unnecessary one. A movie that's too slow in some parts is either unbearable in those parts or, if those parts overwhelm the rest of the movie, just an unbearably long movie.
Why It's Good
Of course, there's still the good side of this. It's pretty common knowledge that if a book gets adapted to a movie, something is going to be cut out. Usually, several somethings will get cut out, including characters and sub-plots. However, when a movie is split into two parts, it has twice the run time. If you were to play both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows back-to-back, it would essentially be a single movie that's close to five hours long. This means that the director and writer(s) can add more of the book to these movies to keep them as faithful as possible to the book. I say book because I don't think this should happen to every book in the series; that would bear utterly unbearable. But the last one? That gives the movie about as much screen time as possible, which can help give the franchise the best, most faithful end possible as long as nothing gets drawn out too long.
So YA novel adaptions being split into two parts is good and bad, but, like most things that can be classified as 'bad,' has room to grow. As long as the people making the movies pays attention to the source materiel, and knows that it's possible to split this movie into two parts without stretching it and keeping as much of the source materiel as possible, then it should be fine except for that killer year-long wait.