The Two Part Finales of Film Adaptations

It has seemingly become common practice in film to split the finale of a popular franchise into two parts. There are many reasons for justifying a drawn out conclusion to a finale, with an accepted one being that it’s just another way for the film industry to squeeze more profit out of a finishing franchise.

In recent years we’ve seen profitable and successful franchises like Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games grace cinema screens with well received adaptations of admired source material. This has lead to many fans wondering why does one book, adapted so many times before into just one film, suddenly require two separate films in order to conclude a franchise? Avid fans could argue that two films would do justice to the source material better, which in some cases is true when you realise how many films are inaccurately created that are based upon books and considering that the majority of the audience to these films will be the passionate fans of the books, it would seem that there is quite a big incentive to do the film justice.

The Harry Potter franchise for example typically adapted one book into one film until the time came to make the final entry and although the hype and drama were well deserved and the film was thoroughly enjoyed by book and film fans alike, both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows grossed a colossal amount of money, which was arguably one of the main goals of the franchise. Since then, franchises such as The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games have also made the decision to divide the final book into two films.

Although these two part conclusions are usually split very well and they succeed in delivering dramatic denouements, it is the dreaded part one that can leave fans numb by the end. Part one never fails to act as a huge build up to the second part, focusing so much on creating this sense of an epic conclusion that the first part frequently lacks much story development and poignant scenes as they are left for the second part and this only leaves audiences deflated at having to wait a whole year for the actual finale. This is still very much a creative choice however, for directors it is a very difficult road when it comes to adapting a beloved book that both book fans and film fans alike can enjoy but with it becoming a little bit more acceptable for films to have very long running times, it might not be long before two part films give way to three hour long instalments into a franchise.

This decision is still getting a lot of negative attention from fans however, despite film adaptations of books, comics and novellas being leaps and bounds ahead of what they used to be. Years ago, fans had to be content with disaster adaptations such as The Golden Compass from Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights, to the very loose versions of legendary author Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Even films such as The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveller’s Wife have suffered at the hands of filmmakers in an age where any book to attain bestselling or popular status is guaranteed to be needlessly adapted to film. Whilst film adaptations can introduce and encourage film audiences to read the original source material and whilst it is gratifying to see a favorite book make its way onto the big screen, can a single film ever truly capture everything that a book exemplifies; can two?

Dylan Clements, Film writer at Seroword

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