WTF Hollywood??? Stop Splitting Movies Up Unnecessarily!
Some stories, especially ones based on novels, need more than one movie. The content is just so vast and expansive that collapsing the material into one 2 1/2 movie just wouldn’t work. An element of the story could fall by the wayside, an important character shortchanged, or a critical monologue could be left out. This goes doubly so for fantasy and science fiction adaptations. For example you couldn’t make Frank Herbert’s original Dune trilogy into a one film. Hell SyFy channel made a miniseries combing the second and third books and still couldn’t get everything in.
Yet there’s a difference between giving enough time to be true to the source material and overkill. The problem is “more” doesn’t always equate to “better.” Lately Hollywood’s go to has been unnecessary second helpings of sequels that would better be served as single, clean, and fluid film. Five years ago when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I was released it initiated a trend that has continued throughout the decade.
And I am fucking tired of it.
Let’s go back to my Harry Potter example for a moment. To be fair I thoroughly enjoyed both parts one and two. I didn’t feel like there was a lot of fluff or wasted effort. However, was it necessary to split the book into two parts? Granted, Rowling’s seventh booth was the longest in the series by one hundred pages. Producers split the film into two parts for the very same reason I touched on in my opening paragraph. Keeping all the plot elements in tact would have resulted in one four and a half hour movie. So in the case of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the choice worked.
As I stated, ostensibly the producers of Hallows wanted to retain certain key plot elements. But don’t give me a vomit flavored Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean and tell me it’s cherry. This decision was money based and don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise. All you need to look at are the final box office returns for each film. Part one made $960.3 million worldwide and part two made $1.342 billion worldwide. For all intents and purposes, Warner Bros. doubled their revenue. The fact that both movies were entertaining and didn’t feel long-winded was just a happy coincidence.
Not surprisingly other studios soon followed suit much to audiences’ horror. First up was The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I and Part II. The Twilight films were overhyped, soulless, vapid, and absent of substance or significance. However, there’s no denying there’s a fan base and naturally they made money. Part I made $710 million and Part II made $829 million worldwide. Again, you double down and you get $1.5 billion in revenue for an already extremely financially successful franchise. I guess two turd burgers are better than one even if they both taste like shit.
Then of course is the mother of all cash grabs, a greed fueled trilogy the size of Smaug the dragon himself. I’m of course talking about The Hobbit trilogy.
I want to be very clear: I liked The Hobbit movies, especially The Desolation of Smaug. I didn’t love them like I did The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but The Hobbit is one of my favorite novels and it was nice to see it on the big screen. Granted it was overdone, lacking in story, and CGI bloated, but for all that I enjoyed it for what it was. Having said that, if there was ever an example of splitting up a movie unnecessarily it’s The Hobbit trilogy. You only need to perform simple math in order to come to that conclusion. The Hobbit is a 300 page novel whereas The Fellowship of the Ring is 500 pages, yet was adapted into a single film. Furthermore, The Fellowship of the Ring is a much more cohesive film than the three Hobbit movies combined. However, yet again greed drove this series. Worldwide box office numbers don’t lie:
An Unexpected Journey: $1.021 billion
The Desolation of Smaug: $958 million
The Battle of the Five Armies: $956 million
Almost $3 billion in revenue. Unreal.
Sadly, this trend has not ceased. In fact it’s getting worse. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I and Part II is just the latest example. While I haven’t seen the latest film, there’s no question that Part I was the weakest of the series and the reason behind that fact is that it was watered down. It was patently obvious at how desperately the people behind the film were stretching the material.
Despite this glaring problem, Hollywood shows no signs of changing. Look no further than the Divergent series which just recently announced that the final book will be split into two parts. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Maze Runner series follows suit.
Look I get it. This is a business and Hollywood needs to make money, otherwise the movie industry would cease to exist. However, audiences still deserve better. Until studios stop sacrificing story and pacing at the altar of greed, this trend will continue.
And that’s just sad.
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