If past performance and fan anticipation are any indicators, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 is going to be one of the biggest movies of the year. Considering its predecessor was the highest grossing film last year, anything less will be a serious disappointment for Lionsgate. We’re still three months out, but promotion is starting to trickle in, including a new photo of heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), and director Francis Lawrence has been talking about his upcoming film.
Based on the final book in Suzanne Collins’ young adult trilogy, Mockingjay takes a different approach than the previous two installments. While those narratives are based around the teenage battle-to-the-death theatrics of the Hunger Games, setting up the idea of rebellion in the futuristic nation of Panem, this chapter is where all of that pressure comes to a head.
Talking to EW, Lawrence says:
There’s definitely some battles. There’s some of the first glimpses of real war in this movie. And the scale gets quite big. There’s an atonal shift from some of the last movies, but they’re still very emotional, very sweeping, [on a] grand scale with some levity and humor.
The change in approach doesn’t necessarily work, as Mockingjay is roundly considered the worst installment of the franchise. While the battles and the escalating conflict should make for some exciting scenes, and there’s a great deal going on internally for Katniss, as she tries to rescue Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), gain some semblance of control over her love life, overthrow a corrupt government, and deal with what is very likely PTSD. Still, there are some flat moments and new angles that don’t particularly work.
Most of the time people are against the changes that get made from page to screen, but in this case, a few could be an improvement. But don’t hold your breath for that. Lawrence says:
Instead of changing the plot and changing characters what we did was have the opportunity to show scenes that could have been happening at different times in the book. For us it’s world expansion instead of changing things. I think it’s exciting for the fan to see certain things. So we’ve been able to open the world up in this and see some new places. We get to see some new districts this time and the scope gets quite large.
One new addition to the story is Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), president of District 13, which most people of Panem thinks was destroyed in the original uprising that led to the creation of the Hunger Games in the first place. Though she is a part of the rebellion, she is also a politician, and may not have our heroine’s best interests in mind (Katniss, as a symbol, is even more valuable to her dead than alive). Coin plays in important role in the grand scheme of things, but doesn’t get much time in the foreground. According to Lawrence, that’s going to be one major alteration he does make. He says:
What’s interesting is although she’s a huge character in Mockingjay the book, there’s actually very little of her in it. There’s more of her in this than in the book and because of that, there’s some development.
Perhaps the most interesting change we’re waiting to see is where Lawrence splits the movie. As is the trend now, one book is becoming two movies. While he doesn’t reveal exactly how the production is going about this, he does say it will be a great surprise and that the two films will be very different entities.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 opens everywhere on November 21, while Part 2 opens November 20, 2015.