Since over a year ago, there have been rumors that Lionsgate was looking to split the final chapter of The Hunger Games series, the third book titled Mockingjay, into two films, much like their sister company Summit did with Twilight: Breaking Dawn and Warner Bros. did with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now the split seems official as Deadline now has release dates for the two-part finale. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I will hit on November 21st, 2014, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II will arrive a year later on November 20th, 2015. My thoughts on the split below.
A whole year between the finale seems pretty brutal, but that's exactly what Twilight fans have had to deal with between the Breaking Dawn films. I would prefer a six month wait between them like The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, but I think there's a bigger problem here. Honestly, Mockingjay is not a book that needs to be split into two films. Without spoiling anything, it has some slow parts that actually make it rather dull in comparison to Catching Fire, and that's actually the sequel that would benefit more from being split into two films. Of course, the story in the final book does have an easy split point with a huge cliffhanger that would put audiences who haven't read the book into a frenzy.
Either way, the studio as clearly made its decision, and Mockingjay is coming in two parts whether we like it or not. In the meantime, audiences can get excited for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second installment which brings back original cast members like Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Lenny Kravitz. In addition, they have all been joined by new cast members Jena Malone as Johanna Mason and Philip Seymour Hoffman as new gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. The sequel arrives November 22nd, 2013.
It was announced back in August that Natalie Dormer had been cast as Cressida in the final two chapters of the Hunger Games series, The Hunger Games: Mockinjay - Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Although the character is, in the original novel, described as being bald, Dormer debuted her Panem look this weekend at the SAG Awards red carpet, telling EW that she's been keeping the look a secret for months. Take a look in the gallery viewer below!
“It’s been hidden for three months," she says. "It happened back in October. I was, you know, waiting for the right moment... Francis Lawrence, the director of 'Mockingjay,' and I discussed it and I took the job on the premise that I would possibly shave my whole head. I’m actually really pleased that we went halfway because I think it’s more the Capitol… and that’s where Cressida comes from. She comes from the Capitol, so she’s got a stylized thing going on and now she’s turned rebel. I think it’s right for the character.”
The Cressida character is that of a film director working in the Capitol, who winds up joining the rebellion with her assistant, Messalla, and her cameramen, Castor and Pollux.
When Philip Seymour Hoffman tragically and suddenly passed away this weekend, he left behind a couple of not-quite-finished projects. One is the two-parter The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, in which he reprises the role of Plutarch Heavensbee from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; another is Showtime’s Happyish, which was set to star Hoffman as an ad exec trying to change his life.
While the former shouldn’t be delayed too much by his passing, the latter seems to be in jeopardy. Get updates on both after the jump.
According to Lionsgate (via Variety), Hoffman had just seven days of shooting left on Mockingjay – Part 2 at the time of his passing and had already finished shooting most of his scenes. Therefore, the role will not be recast and the two films will open November 21, 2014 and November 20, 2015 as originally planned. Filming on the two movies, which are shooting back-to-back, began last fall in Atlanta and will continue through the spring.
“Philip Seymour Hoffman was a singular talent and one of the most gifted actors of our generation. We’re very fortunate that he graced our Hunger Games family,” said the studio in a statement. “Losing him in his prime is a tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Philip’s family.”
The fate of Hoffman’s Happyish is less clear. Created by Shalom Auslander, the dramedy was to star Hoffman as Thom Payne, a “successful but self-loathing creative director at a New York ad agency.” Although Showtime had ordered ten episodes of the series, only the pilot had been shot so far.
The network released a statement reacting to Hoffman’s death but has not officially announced if or how the show will proceed. “Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of our generation’s finest and most brilliant actors,” they wrote. “He was also a gifted comedic talent. It was a great privilege and pleasure to work with him and we are all absolutely devastated by this sudden loss. Our thoughts go out to his family at this very difficult time.”
A source who spoke with E!, however, indicated that Happyish was “unlikely” to continue. “It is hard to imagine a way in which it could go on,” said the individual. “His role would have to be recast and there weren’t any other actors in serious consideration aside from Philip. If the show does move forward, the premiere would be delayed as pilot would need to be reshot.”
On Monday morning, we reported Philip Seymour Hoffman had shot enough of his The Hunger Games: Mockingjay role before his passing that the release dates for the two-parter have not shifted. But he still had seven days of filming left on Part 2 and, unsurprisingly, that’s leading to some complications.
According to insiders at the studio, the late Hoffman still had one major scene left to shoot when he died. The filmmakers are now scrambling to work around his absence, possibly by digitally inserting him into some scenes. More details after the jump.
THR reports that the big scene that remains unshot was an emotional moment from Part 2. Their Lionsgate source declined to say exactly which scene it was, asking, “Why would I want to give people something to look for two years from now?”
The individual acknowledged that although everyone at Lionsgate was “extraordinarily sad” to hear of Hoffman’s death, “as it relates to production, it’s going to have no impact.” They added, “His performances in both [remaining] movies will be up to the best of his craft. We feel it will be a good tribute to him.”
Hoffman had an important but relatively minor role in the last installment, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, as Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. The character features more prominently in the sequels.
The Hunger Games filmmakers have not said how exactly they will deal with Hoffman’s absence, but a source has a few suggestions. “You can do digital things, you can have conversations where you’re not focusing on him but the people he’s talking to,” they explained.
Effects supervisor Rob Legato, who is not familiar with Lionsgate’s plans for The Hunger Games, pointed out that technology could also be used to recreate Hoffman’s image. “I won’t say you could generate a Philip Seymour Hoffman with all the acting ability, but you could certainly replicate him for a shot or two,” he said.
Digitally replicated or not, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 may very well be the last film ever to feature a performance by Hoffman. He was in two films that hit Sundance last month, John Slattery’s God’s Pocket and Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man. Neither has a U.S. release date locked in yet.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 opens November 21 of this year, followed by Part 2 on November 20, 2015. Francis Lawrence directs both installments.
By the time The Hunger Games: MockingJay Part 2 hits theaters in 2015, the franchise will be among one of the most successful in Hollywood history. So it makes sense producers have decided to honor the memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman and go the expensive route of digitally recreating the late actor for the one major scene he still had to shoot for the film.
The New York Post reported this development, citing “sources from the flick.”
Hoffman, who passed away earlier this week due to an apparent drug overdose, was in the midst of filming scenes for the two part finale of the Hunger Games series. He had one crucial scene left to do for the second film, and producers were looking at various ways to figure out how to move forward. An insider told the Hollywood Reporter digital recreation was was most likely. “You can do digital things, you can have conversations where you’re not focusing on him but the people he’s talking to,” the person said. That would also be something they could do in post-production, which would not slow down principal photography. Now it seems that decision has been made.
Hoffman had two films completed at this year’s Sundance Film Festival followed by the first part of MockingJay, which hits theaters in November. It seems increasingly likely the November 20, 2015 release of The Hunger Games: MockingJay Part 2 will be his final big screen appearance.
Lionsgate has just brought online a "digital first look" at The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, the upcoming first half of the franchise finale. Check it out at TheHungerGamesExclusive.com!
Seemingly the first in an ongoing video series, this First Look offers an look at Julianne Moore as District 13 President Alma Coin, along with a video interview with Moore, a Q&A with director Francis Lawrence, producer Nina Jacobson and writer Peter Craig, and behind-the-scenes photos.