The Hunger Games Director Regrets Splitting Mockingjay Into Two Movies

The Hunger Games franchise is back in the public consciousness, with the spinoff film The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes lined up to premiere in theaters next month. The prequel is set decades before the four existing films in the Hunger Games franchise — and it looks like franchise director Francis Lawrence has a unique outlook on one chapter of the saga. In a recent interview with, Lawrence revealed that he has regrets about splitting the final book in the saga, Mockingjay, into two films. According to Lawrence, although he and the creative team recognized that the “two halves of Mockingjay had their own separate dramatic questions,” he still isn’t sure if it was the right call for the fans.

“I totally regret it. I totally do. I’m not sure everybody does, but I definitely do,” Lawrence revealed, before adding, “What I realized in retrospect — and after hearing all the reactions and feeling the kind of wrath of fans, critics and people at the split — is that I realized it was frustrating. And I can understand it. In an episode of television, if you have a cliffhanger, you have to wait a week or you could just binge it and then you can see the next episode. But making people wait a year, I think, came across as disingenuous, even though it wasn’t,” he adds. “Our intentions were not to be disingenuous.”

“In truth, we got more on the screen out of the book than we would’ve in any of the other movies because you’re getting close to four hours of screen time for the final book. But,” Lawrence admitted. “I see and understand how it frustrated people.”

Will There Be Other Hunger Games Spinoffs?

For years, fans have campaigned for other expansions of the franchise’s lore, including a deeper look at the 50th Hunger Games won by Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), and the 65th Hunger Games won by Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin). In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lawrence hinted that he isn’t opposed to the possibility, but any future chapters will probably have to be rooted in an idea from Collins herself.

“I liked being part of the series originally because the stories are great,” Lawrence explained. “But what was always gratifying was that they were always about something. Suzanne always writes from a thematic foundation. The original ones were all about the consequences of war. [Songbirds and Snakes is] about the state of nature. That’s what makes them feel rich and not superficial, and I think it’s why they’ve stood the test of time, honestly… If Suzanne has another thematic idea that she feels fits into the world of Panem — whether that’s with new people [or] familiar characters [like] Finnick, Haymitch, whoever — I’d be really interested in looking at it and being a part of it. But I don’t have any pull of just going, ‘I would love to do Finnick’s games.’ He’s a great character, but what’s the thematic underpinnings that make it worth telling and relevant?”

What Is The Hunger Games Prequel About?

In The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.

The ensemble cast for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes also includes Hunter Schafer, Jason Schwartzman, Laurel Marsden, Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, Jose Andr?s Rivera, Ashley Liao, Mackenzie Lansing, Irene Boehm, Cooper Dillon, Luna Kuse, Kjell Brutscheidt, Dimitri Abold, Athena Strates, Dakota Shapiro, George Somner and Vaughan Reilly, Lilly Maria Cooper, Sofia Sannchez, and Max Raphael. Nina Jacobson will executive produce alongside her producing partner Brad Simpson, as well as Lawrence, Collins, and Tim Palen.