The director of The Hunger Games films recently discussed the one regret he had for the last movies.
Francis Lawrence, the director of The Hunger Games series, revealed to People that he "totally regrets" having split the final book Mockingjay into two separate films. If he could do it again, Lawrence says he would definitely keep Mockingjay intact. He continued, saying that "two halves of Mockingjay had their own separate dramatic questions," so each film had its respective plots -- but the wait between the two definitely frustrated the fans. After the release of Catching Fire in 2013, Mockingjay Part 1 came in November 2014, and Mockingjay Part 2 was finally released the following year. Given that The Hunger Games novels are themselves a trilogy with a huge fan base, splitting the final book into two parts kept people waiting longer than they had expected.
Although dividing the final book was a controversial decision among both readers and viewers, the director added that it gave the filmmakers more space to adapt more of the book itself rather than cut things for screen time. "In truth, we got more on the screen out of the book than we would've in any of the other movies because you're getting close to four hours of screen time for the final book," says Lawrence, but he ultimately understood why viewers were irritated with the final two part decision.
The New Faces of an Older Panem
Lawrence directed all four of the original Hunger Games films and is returning to his post for the upcoming prequel, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The prequel is again based on Suzanne Collins' work (the novel was published in 2020), but it will now take place during the 10th annual Hunger Games. The plot follows Coriolanus Snow before he becomes Katniss' enemy. "Coryo" Snow is a young mentor in the Capitol, teaming up with Lucy Gray Baird in their attempt to dominate the Games and survive everything being thrown their way. As a prequel, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes features an entirely new cast, with Tom Blythe as Snow, Rachel Zegler as Lucy and Viola Davis as the ominous gamemaker Volumnia Gaul. Behind the scenes, however, the production crew mostly carries over from the previous films.
The Hunger Games Prequel Will Be One Film Only
A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will only have one film adaptation, which was Lawrence's plan all along. "I would never let them split the book in two," says Lawrence. "There was never a real conversation about it. It's a long book, but we got so much s--- for splitting Mockingjay into two — from fans, from critics, from everybody — that I was like, 'No way. I'll just make a longer movie.'" The total run time will be over two hours, setting a record for the franchise.
A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will release in theaters on Nov. 17.