Have two-parters gone too far?

As Katniss Everdeen gets the final string in her bow, Johnny Hastings looks at the succession of franchise finales that have been mercilessly cut into two money-spinning slices

16th November 2015

The clocks have gone back, the summer sprawl of blockbusters has been and gone, and now we’re settling in: the winter films have already drawn around us and a single question quickly dawns on us. With the second part of Mockingjay just around the corner, we have to ask ourselves: what point do two-parter movies ever diminish?

The significance of multiple features began during the early production of series shown in theatres. The benefits of this system were the use of cliffhangers, and the expectation that the audiences would return regularly to view the episodes in these installments. Original films like Back to the

Future and The Matrix, often used this motif as soon as the initial film become popular, inciting additional films in the franchise.

This, of course, becomes problematic when the series forms its precedence in literature. It seems that, ever since the rise of Harry Potter, producers have decided a franchise’s last film should be two parts. This has, inevitably, led to contention between film fans, and those fans of the original source material. Fans of the source will back the films, they’ve spent years growing and developing the characters, how couldn’t they? Yet, in the end, what is produced is an eclectic mix of ideas that represent those of the movie industry who, naturally, see profit as the end result of their endeavour.

“There are eclectic mixes of ideas from the movie industry who see only profit as the end result”

It is this that leads to the inevitable decline of the young adult book-to-film franchise. Hollywood knows that people will pay to go see the feature. No more is this a clear than with The Hobbit trilogy. I’m sure Lord of the Rings’ devoted fans would have happily sat though a five-to-nine hour single movie rendition. Hell, that’s what the extended editions are for, aren’t they? Yet, for some reason we were happy to throw our money their way.

The simple answer comes down to supposed quality. We’ve all heard of the justification to increase the screen time for films, allowing the crew to incorporate a larger, more accurate representation of the source material. As viewers we emote to this, after all it is an adaptation, and we want the best balance between the literature and a powerful movie. If a film is beautifully done, we can respect it in its own standing, and this is where multi-parters shine. After all, The Avengers have managed to slide under the radar with its ‘final’ iteration being released in two-parts.

“If a film is beautifully done, we can respect it in its own standing, and this is where multi-parters shine”

It doesn’t take much to say that most of the films produced in two parts are terrible; you know who the culprits are. And whether this is due to the acting, the source material, or the overall production, we as an audience can’t seem to connect with them unless they’re held on some sort of cinematic standing.

I, personally, don’t believe there’s anything wrong with films splitting into multiple episodes. What I can’t understand is the production of a mediocre movie and splitting it into two, forcing a contrived cliffhanger that leaves the audience wanting more, and knowing they have a year to wait for the final part, leaving the prior film always lacking in substance. A better comprise would be to release both part at once, and let the viewer decide how they will partake in such pleasures.

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