Catching Fire may have just come out late last year, and we may still be 11 months away from Mockingjay Part 1 but it’s never too early to speculate where the movies will split the book!
Update (November 5, 2014): Nearly a full year has passed since we published this article, and we aren’t much closer to discovering where Mockingjay will be split. However, a new track list for the score may offer a hint.
The track “They’re Back” is the second to last song on the score soundtrack, right before a track titled “Victory.” Perhaps the former is referring to Katniss and company returning with Peeta after the rescue mission? “Victory” could just be for the credits, or maybe this score is for quietly celebrating the return of Peeta.
It looks like we may have our split answer!
Fair warning: you may want to reread the book to re-familiarize yourself with the sequence of events.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins is split into three sections: The Ashes, The Assault, and The Assassin. Much of the first part is Katniss, lost in her own thoughts, worried about her family and Peeta, and trying to adjust to District 13 life. However, during these first nine chapters, she agrees to become the Mockingjay and ventures out into District 8 where the Capitol fire-bombs the hospital full of injured people as Katniss watches from afar on the roof of a building.
We’re here to try and figure out when the split will take place, Goldilocks style.
Too early: Anytime prior to Peeta’s arrival in District 13
Sure, it doesn’t happen until we’re well into the book – about halfway, actually, but if they were to split Mockingjay here, Part 1 would be two hours of Katniss tip-toeing around Gale, Coin, and the entirety of District 13. Whereas Part 2 would have to shove so much plot and action into it they should split that further into two movies.
All of the following quotes occur during the first portion of the book, where there is the least amount of action and plot.
Example 1: Page 14
“At first, when I was so ill in the hospital, I could forgo being imprinted. But… I was expected to get with the program. Except for showing up for meals, though, I pretty much ignore the words on my arm. I just go back to our compartment or wander around 13 or fall asleep somewhere hidden. An abandoned air duct. Behind the water pipes in the laundry. There’s a closet in the Education Center that’s great because no one ever seems to need school supplies.”
Example 2: Page 19
“My mind does a quick inventory of my odd little hiding places, and I wind up in the supply closet, curled up against a crate of chalk.”
Example 3: Page 80
“After breakfast, I ignore my schedule and take a nap in the supply closet.”
Too obvious: When Peeta arrives in District 13 and tries to kill Katniss
Katniss enter Peeta’s hospital room, suddenly we see him lunge towards her, arms out-stretched, her face lights up as she goes to return his hug, then his hands clamp around her neck, slow motion. Fade to black. End of Mockingjay, Part 1.
We don’t think so.
Splitting the movie here would run into the same issue the above point had – Part 2 would have to cover a solid 75% of the action in book and therefore, would not be able to do it all justice. Plus, ending the film with a scene like that, then making us wait a full year for Part 2 is just mean.
Almost exactly halfway through the book, Peeta, as well as Annie and Johanna, are rescued from the Capitol, but Katniss quickly learns the Peeta they brought to District 13 is not the same Peeta she knew in the Quarter Quell.
Example: Page 104
“[Peeta’s] features register disbelief and something more intense that I can’t quite place. Desire? Desperation? Surely both, for he sweeps the doctors aside, leaps to his feet, and moves toward me. I run to meet him, my arms extended to embrace him. His hands are reaching for me, too, to caress my face, I think.
My lips are just forming his name when his fingers lock around my throat.”
The ‘Harry Potter’ Route: When they begin their venture into the Capitol
This seems, honestly, the most logical place to split the books. After following in Harry Potter’s footsteps by splitting the book into two movies, you could further that parallel by showing Part 1 is mostly rising action, whether it be Harry, Ron and Hermione camping out in the forests looking for horcruxes or Katniss moping around District 13, resenting her status as the symbol for the rebellion she didn’t want to happen. Remember when everyone was so sure the split would come either right before Ron left or right after he came back? That plot point is a little similar to the “Too obvious” statement above, no?
Incidentally, Part III of the book, The Assassin, begins around this time – Katniss and Squad 451 have been camped out on the outskirts of the Capitol for five days, only being used as actors for District 13’s propaganda shots. Peeta shows up, and soon thereafter they go for the usual filming of set-up shots, made to look like war. But Boggs triggers a bomb, blowing his legs off, and chaos ensues. From then on, Snow and the Capitol officials know Squad 451 is after them. Katniss, assuming role of leader, then brings her team through various houses, the sewers of the city, all leading up to the finale.
The best place to look at this split is anywhere from page 159 to page 162, starting from the squad’s entry into the Capitol with the intention of a few fake battle shots, and ending after the deaths of Boggs and Mitchell, and the black wave of tar our squad barely escapes from. This is an especially pivotal moment as Boggs’ last words to Katniss is a hushed warning to be on her guard, to not trust “them.”
Example: Page 162
“Boggs forces the Holo into my hand. His lips are moving, but I can’t make out what he’s saying. I lean my ear down to his mouth to catch his harsh whisper. ‘Don’t trust them. Don’t go back. Kill Peeta. Do what you came to do.’
I draw back so I can see his face. ‘What? Boggs? Boggs?’ His eyes are still open, but dead. Pressed in my hand, glued to it by his blood, is the Holo.”
Too late: After the first battle in the Capitol
The momentum from that first battle as Katniss and the Star Squad team move through the Capitol would all be for naught if Part 1 were to end right after it. It would be like watching Moriarty kill himself, seeing Sherlock teeter on the edge, and then an abrupt cut to black, forcing you have to wait one full year to see what happens next! Albeit, this is a good set up to have the team move through the city and to capture movie-goers interest enough to return for Part 2.
After just escaping death, Katniss and her squad take refugee in an abandoned apartment, taking just enough time to gather their emotions about their lost members, refuel off the food the previous tenants had squandered away, and catch a live emergency broadcast from President Snow, announcing the death of the Mockingjay.
Example: Page 170
“Beetee gives the reins back to a very controlled Snow. I have the feeling the president though the emergency channel was impenetrable, and someone will end up dead tonight because it was breached. ‘Tomorrow morning, when we pull Katniss Everdeen’s body from the ashes, we will see exactly who the Mockingjay is. A dead girl who could save no one, not even herself.’ Seal, anthem, and out.
‘Except that you won’t find her,’ says Finnick to the empty screen, voicing what we’re all probably thinking. The grace period will be brief. Once they dig through those ashes and come up missing eleven bodies, they’ll know we escaped.”
Way too late: After the death of Finnick or Prim
Unlike the events above, the deaths of these two characters happen too late into the story to be considered a viable split point. In the midst of the panic Katniss feels during these two scenes (and therefore, the viewers, given that Francis Lawrence finds an apt way to convey that fear onto the movie screen) it’s unlikely they’d cut the films at these pivotal moments.
Finnick dies during battle, and given the fan’s response to Sam Claflin, we’d hope they’d give Finnick a death more worthy of his character. Many readers don’t even catch Finnick’s death in the books until going back to read the scene with a critical eye. Prim’s death, however, almost happens in slow motion, and is as gut-wrenching for the reader (and soon, the viewer) than it is for Katniss herself, however it happens less than thirty pages from the end of the novel and cutting the movie there would just be unrealistic.
Example: Page 200
“Then I am pushing through the crowd, just as I did before. Trying to shout her name above the roar. I’m almost there, almost to the barricade, when I think she hears me. Because for just a moment, she catches sight of me, her lips form my name.
And that’s when the rest of the parachutes go off.”
Now it’s your turn: Where will the movie be split?
We may not definitively know where the Mockingjay book is split until we’re in the theater watching Part 1. Or until someone spoils it. We wouldn’t be completely surprised if Jennifer Lawrence herself accidentally lets it slip sometime during the press tour for the movie, or at awards ceremonies over the next couple months.