Do Franchise Instalments Need To Be Split Up Into Several Parts?

More and more Hollywood productions and mainstream film adaptations of works of fiction have been splitting their instalments up into several parts, but is this a good or a bad thing? Two of our writers weigh in on the issue.

the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-poster-22

For – Phil Gorski

Blockbuster movies are getting to be bigger and better than ever before, thanks largely to the fact that there are now so many book-to-film adaptations making their way to the big screen. More serious fans of such books (and other source material,) don’t take kindly to the omission of details. Books need to be transferred, detail-for-detail, to their film counterparts, as anything less isn’t good enough for some. Therein lies the biggest problem with book-to-film adaptations: time constraints. Sure, it would be possible to cram all of The Hobbit into one cinematic instalment, but only to the detriment of so many finely-crafted details that could have -but in this scenario never were- made into amazing on-screen moments.

Consider the economics- more money makes more movies possible.

Enter the purpose of splitting movies into multiple movies. The Hunger Games wrapped up with a two-part Mockingjay. Marvel’s upcoming Infinity Wars will have a Part 1 and Part 2. Why are movies trending this way, and why is it a good thing? More movies are accepting that fans want more. More focus on detail from whatever the source material may be. More focus on building longer, more dramatic scenes. More emotionally-engaging dialogue. And so on. Fans, Hollywood has determined, also love the suspense of a good cliffhanger. Television shows create them all the time. The natural evolution of films made from multiple instalment-heavy series books and comics has brought moviegoers and movie-makers to this point, where we can all enjoy seeing so many more aspects of the source material brought to life in cinema.

There are plenty of naysayers about this approach to sequels and the splitting of movies. Accusations of studios and directors being greedy by splitting one possible movie into, say, three. There could very well be some truth to that, however, but this isn’t necessarily a bad truth. Consider the economics- more money makes more movies possible, which in turn allows fans to continue to enjoy the stories they love as they are introduced to the big screen. Other complaints are that these split-up movies are loaded with too many filler details, but that’s more a sign that not everyone will be happy with the state of things. Fewer details result in unhappy fans, while more details leave other fans flustered.

This is a trend that won’t likely end anytime soon, with longer source material and an endless need for movies, and so it’s best to just appreciate those beloved books becoming multiple movies.

HP 7 Part 1

Against – Oliver Rowe

Harry Potter. Twilight. The Hunger Games. The Hobbit. The upcoming next lot of Marvel’s Avengers films. Just what is it with film franchises splitting up their final instalments into two parts? A cynic would of course argue that it’s all about money, and it does seem that, however much one can argue in favour of splitting up films and stories into two (or worryingly maybe even more than two) instalments, the basis for a lot of these decisions does seem to be fiscal, rather than artistic or cinematic. Take Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, for example. The pacing of the two films was frankly all over the place – the first instalment lacked enough proper drama and dynamism until the very end of the third act, at which point it ended abruptly, whilst the second had far too much of this, resulting in the moments of downtime not having as much of an emotional punch as they could have done. The same looks to be true of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, given its first instalment.

Crucially, The Hobbit is not a long book.

It is likely that to a large extent this is out of the directors, writers and producer’s control, and that the concept of franchise instalments comes from the profit-margin-hunting studios, rather than the filmmakers themselves. Sadly though, these creators still have to sit through promotional interviews and behind-the-scenes documentaries saying things along the lines of “We just realised we had such a story to tell” rather than things like “There was this shouty man back at Paramount”. This brings us on to The Hobbit. Many agree that this trilogy of films could have been greatly improved had it been two, rather than three films as it was originally going to be. Instead, it added characters that were never in the source material, strived to film every single segment of the prologue and epilogue of the source material, and we ended up with a massively mixed bag set of films – some parts were great, others not so great. The pacing and storytelling could have been much improved with a proper limit on the number and length of the films – crucially, The Hobbit is not a long book.

This links to my final point in this short argument – the source material. Whilst one might argue that instalments being split up makes artistic sense insofar as that is how the books were written, or that their length warrants such a decision, there is an obvious counter-point to this. If this is the case, and that filmmakers would have to make several instalments to do this, surely the answer there is to instead tailor the material to a television serial or television miniseries adaptation instead? It seems perfectly logical, especially given the recent resurgence of quality dramatic serial television, and indeed programmes such as Game of Thrones serve as spectacular examples of how this can be done well. So why elongate the cinematic experience of the films for the sake of a cash cow when you can have the best of both worlds? The studios still get their money, and the consumers get a great adaptation of the source material. In any case it does seem that regardless of all of these somewhat obvious points that we will be getting films in instalments for decades to come, so there is little we can do but accept them for the moment.

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2 thoughts on “Do Franchise Instalments Need To Be Split Up Into Several Parts?

  1. I loved this piece. But I am firmly in the No camp. None of the books split into multiple films have so far had enoug plot/ material to properly fill 2 films. You end up with 1 film all set up no pay off and 1 film all pay off not set up which is intense enough to cause mild heart attacks! Only split the book if there is enough plot to require it, if not sure the answer is probably no!

    Liked by 1 person

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