Stop giving us halves of movie adaptations

By Harsha Bellamkonda

I remember how excited I was when “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” came out in theaters. Being an avid Harry Potter fan, I had been waiting anxiously to see the penultimate movie of the series. For some reason, I never got around to it. It was the first Harry Potter movie I hadn’t seen on the big screen. Instead, I finally watched it a week before Part 2 came out.

Warner Bros. truly struck gold when it decided to split the final Harry Potter book into two films. Not only were both films commercially and critically successful, raking in $2.3 billion total and averaging 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but the studio started a trend of splitting the final book in a series into two full-length movies.

Even though this seemed to work for the Harry Potter franchise, I, for one, hope this trend doesn’t continue. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” and The Divergent series’ “Allegiant Part 1” are among the other half-movies based on smaller books coming out this fall and next spring, respectively. With those movies as a clear example of this continuing two-part trend, I believe that unless the source material is truly vast, directors should stick to making one high-quality movie that satisfies the general audiences and fans alike — even if that means certain parts must be cut.

Not all series have had the same successful results critically. The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Hobbit and the Divergent series have all split their final books into multiple films, with varying degrees of critical success. According to Rotten Tomatoes, The Hobbit series received an average rating of 62.5 percent, much lower than the original Lord of the Rings series, in which all three movies gained critical acclaim, each receiving more than 90 percent. While the Twilight series’ critical reception has always been around 50 percent, the first part of the final film received a much lower 24 percent. The first two Hunger Games films were critically acclaimed at 84 and 89 percent, respectively, while the reception to the first part of the final film was mixed at a rating of 65 percent. While the discrepancy in critical reception may not necessarily be just because they split one book into two movies, this pattern in low ratings can’t be ignored.

It’s not hard to see that the first part of a final film usually does much worse than the second part and the series as a whole. Big production houses are splitting movies into two or three stretched-out parts just to maximize their profits. What irks me the most is that these films are of diminished quality (as the reviews suggest), which could likely be caused by the fact that the first part is usually just a long prologue.

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    There are artistic justifications for splitting up a book into two movies. When it comes to adapting a novel into a film, many fans of the book would prefer to have every detail possible stuffed into the movie. Directors understand this, but with a runtime averaging two hours, parts from the book are usually cut. Also, most fans would love to see their favorite series go on as long as possible. Splitting the film solves these problems, but presents new ones.

    I now know why I had delayed watching “Deathly Hallows Part 1” until a year after its release; subconsciously, I had felt it would just be an introduction. An extremely long introduction. There was no real payoff at the end of the movie. No real conclusion. I’d have to wait a year for Part 2 to get closure, not to mention I would have to buy another ticket.

    We’re basically shelling out the price of two tickets for technically one movie. The yearly wait between movies is certainly a hassle as well. Waiting long for the first part, and then realizing that you’ve just watched a dragged out prologue isn’t fun.

    These production houses and distributors are abusing the audience’s willingness to watch all parts. Although there are multiple films, true fans who have invested their time and heart into the series will end up watching every part, no matter the reduced quality or extra cash they’re spending — otherwise this trend likely wouldn’t still be continuing today. This is just encouraging more and more studios to produce multiple films, whether or not they’re even needed.

    In fact, the final Hunger Games book was a page shorter than the second book, which made a much more satisfying stand-alone movie in 2013, receiving more accolades as well.

    Whichever way one looks at it, one has to agree that quantity certainly doesn’t imply quality. And I believe that most people prefer quality over quantity.

    Harsha is a freshman in Engineering.

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