Let me start this off by saying I thought ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘ was absolutely phenomenal. It was an action-packed blockbuster flick carrying tons of confidence coming off that first film. It got me excited and invested into this franchise.
Shortly after I learned that ‘Mockingjay‘ would be splitting into two films. That idea was very upsetting because, even though I only read the first two books, I could sense this was a cash grab. Splitting the last film is a trend with Young Adult novel adaptations, and aside from Harry Potter I find it completely unnecessary. It also hurts the story more than it helps, and rips off the audience. As it turns out, I was right.
So Lionsgate decides to capitalize on the franchise’s newfound success with ‘Catching Fire’, by milking the last part of the story. As a result, I found ‘Mockingjay Part 1‘ to be utterly boring, because of how slow and stretched out the plot was. ‘Mockingjay Part 1’ was more boring than every single discussion involving taxes and trades from the Star Wars prequels combined. It discouraged me from spending my money on ‘Mockingjay Part 2‘ and supporting the studio’s decision to split the films. I don’t plan on seeing ‘Mockingjay Part 2’ in theaters and, judging from the box office numbers, I’m not alone.
This franchise has lost its steam since ‘Catching Fire’, and its because of the studio getting greedy. The box office numbers support this fact and here’s how:
‘Catching Fire’ remains the highest grossing film in the franchise with $865 million worldwide. ‘Mockingjay Part 1’ (coming off a great film) managed just $755 million worldwide. Sure, that amount of money is a profit, but also a near $100 million drop from the previous installment. As for ‘Mockingjay Part 2’, its made just $523 million worldwide midway through its third week. To prove how bad of a number I think that is, consider the first Hunger Games film totaled $694 million worldwide. Making matters worse for ‘Mockingjay Part 2’ is this little film coming out next week called ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘.
The Hunger Games franchise has steadily declined at the box office, and Lionsgate can only blame themselves. I think its a given that had ‘Mockingjay’ been just one film, then the end result would be much better. Word-of-mouth would spread about how great ‘Mockingjay’ is, especially because of Francis Lawrence returning to direct. People might then be excited for more Hunger Games in the future, which happens to be apart of Lionsgate’s plan regardless of the franchise’s actual decline.
The studio has announced (via. Variety) the franchise “will live on and on” through prequels. Now, the question isn’t whether Lionsgate can learn from their mistakes. Its whether or not audiences have an interest in this franchise anymore. The answer to that is no. I think Hunger Games prequel films is a bad idea, especially when looking at the box office numbers. Not to mention the departure of Jennifer Lawrence, who carried these films. Regardless of my reasons, its another cash grab that Lionsgate can’t resist. I’m sure these prequel films will be interesting for the dedicated fan-base out there. My only hope is they aren’t shortchanged of whatever good storytelling and entertainment might exist in these prequels.