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The Hunger Games Director on Why He "Regrets" Splitting Mockingjay into Two Films

If Francis Lawrence could do it over again, we would only have three Hunger Games movies.

By Matthew Jackson
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) hides in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)

There was a time when it felt like just about every genre film franchise based on a beloved series of young adult novels would end up with a finale split into two parts. Harry Potter did it, Twilight did it, and of course The Hunger Games did it with Mockingjay, the final volume in Suzanne Collins' dystopian saga. 

It worked out in terms of the box office reception for both films, but if he had to do it all over again, director Francis Lawrence would probably push back against the urge to make two films out of one book. 

Why director Francis Lawrence regrets turning The Hunger Games finale, Mockingjay, into two separate films 

"I totally regret it. I totally do. I'm not sure everybody does, but I definitely do," Lawrence told People last month when discussing the decision to split Mockingjay into two films, turning Collins' trilogy of books into a quartet of movies.

RELATED: The 10 Greatest Moments From The Hunger Games Saga

At the time the choice was made, The Hunger Games was one of the hottest film franchises in the world, so it made sense for the studio to push for as much time in front of audiences as possible. That meant that Mockingjay, the concluding chapter in Katniss Everdeen's (Jennifer Lawrence) fight against the oppressive Capitol, would unfold over the course of two films released a year apart. The bright side, according to Lawrence, was the splitting up the films meant adapting more of Collins' novel, condensing the narrative less than previous installments. 

"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," Lawrence said. "But, I see and understand how it frustrated people."

Like each of the previous two installments, both halves of Mockingjay went on to gross more than a half a billion dollars each at the worldwide box office, but Mockingjay - Part 2 proved to be the weakest performer of all four films, and many fans weren't happy with the choice to divide the story up with such a long wait between installments. In retrospect, Lawrence understands, and likely would have pushed back a little more had he grasped that frustration sooner.

"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," he said. "And I can understand it."

RELATED: Ranking ‘The Hunger Games’ movies, which are all now streaming on Peacock

Lawrence continued, "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. Our intentions were not to be disingenuous."

Fortunately for Lawrence, and for fans, you no longer have to wait to watch any chapter of The Hunger Games saga. All four films are streaming right now on Peacock, so you can head over and watch them as fast or as slow as you'd like.