Just in case you really wanted to start working on your plans for the years 2014 and 2015, Lionsgate announced yesterday that they will release Mockingjay Part 1 on November 21, 2014, and Mockingjay Part 2 on November 20, 2015. (The second film Catching Fire was previously announced for November 22, 2013).
The original The Hunger Games film was released in a fairly un-competitive time of the year as it was in theaters in March. This didn't put it in competition with many other huge tentpole films and it was able to rule the box office for weeks. With the upcoming two movies, Lionsgate has taken the opposite strategy and scheduled them during an extremely competitive time of year, as they are being released the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2 will be released in this same time slot, which has apparently become the weekend to release young adult book adaptations. In fairness, I would argue The Hunger Games appeals to a broader audience than Twilight, but nothing can compete with the love and devotion of those Twi-Hards. I hope I am wrong, but I'm just not sure if Catching Fire and the other films will be able to compete with what will hopefully be some pretty solid Academy Award contenders.
With this announcement, it made me think about the decision to break the final book up in to two films. I don't think this was a surprising move because it seems any trilogy based on a book series such as Twilight or Harry Potter employs this strategy these days. However, there is something that makes me a bit more nervous about the move for this series. I am a big fan of the books, but by the third, a lot of the action has been played out and personally, I found the story to be much weaker. In fact, I would actually put it down for more than 24 hours, which never happened with the first two books. I wonder if this will affect the general audience's excitement about or desire to see the final installment. I'm sure Lionsgate hopes the love for Katniss Everdeen will carry through, but I would feel a little less confident with this decision than with other series.
In other The Hunger Games news, Philip Seymour Hoffman has now officially joined the cast of Catching Fire as the head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. There has been much speculation if he would actually take the role and it has now been confirmed. When looking at it, the film truly does have a pretty stellar cast and it will be interesting to see what Francis Lawrence now does with the next film in the franchise.