Books, especially fantasy books, have experienced a great swelling of interest. Streaming services and cable channels scramble for new content. As they can often offer a long-form setup and give more room to tell a story, more and more good books are ending up there. And they’re doing way better there! For instance, the movie Series of Unfortunate Events with Jim Carey was terrible. But the series from Netflix with Neil Patrick Harris was phenomenal. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, block out some time and binge it.
As an answer to this, movie companies have started looking for ways to give more space to tell stories the right way. They’re doing this by splitting books into multiple movies.
Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t.
I am the first person to complain about books being made into movies. They always leave out the best parts! There’s always some scene or character I was excited to see that just never happens. And why did they never happen? Because they weren’t considered essential to the plot, so they were taken out for time.
Having two movies’ worth of time allows for the whole story to be told. Things that aren’t essential to the plot but essential to the enjoyment of the story are all there. The directors even have space to add in new elements as well. One fine example of this is Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. There’s a great scene with Harry and Hermione dancing to the radio while on the run. It’s a sweet moment in a dark time, and it wasn’t in the book. I’m glad it was in the movie.
That isn’t to say that this can’t be taken to far. Take, for example, The Hobbit movies. The Hobbit is a fine book, but it’s not a particularly long book. There’s not enough material to span two movies, let alone three. And unfortunately, the team responsible for beefing up the story wasn’t gifted with what I’d call creativity.
So why do it all in that case? Well, the easiest answer is that three movies will make more money than one. I’m willing to pay that money if the movies are good. If the movie is full of unsatisfying filler, I’m feeling pretty ripped off.
There’s another issue with the two to three movie system. There is by far too much time between the films. Waiting for Mockingjay part two was torture. But then, I’m not a super patient person.
Like most things, splitting novels between two movies have the potential to be a great choice. It also has the potential to destroy what would otherwise have been a fantastic movie experience. It all comes down to intention as most things do. Is the studio trying to give the story the space it needs? Or are they just after a double return on their investment?
So, what do you think? Are there books you feel needed the two movie experience? Or are there some that would have been better left to one? Let us know in the comments.
I have to agree with you on the Hobbit. It absolutely should NOT have been three movies, least of all with all the extra additions they had to put in to make it that long.
I do think if someone wants to make a filmed version of a book (or a book series, as the case may be) then episodes are probably the better option.
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