Editorial: Fishing for Finnick
When Sam Claflin was first rumoured to be playing the role of Finnick one of the most common phrases used to reassure fans who weren’t sold on Sam was to say “Oh, don’t worry, Finnick’s only a supporting character, he won’t be in the movie very much”. Now that the dust has settled I thought I would take a look at just how large Finnick’s role is in Catching Fire the novel and discuss what may make it onto the screen. The results may surprise you…
Note: There are many spoilers within! Please do not read on if you have not read Catching Fire and do not wish to be spoiled!
As a refresher, let’s start with some basic facts about Finnick:
- He is 24 years old, having won the 65th Annual Hunger Games at the age of 14
- He has bronze hair, sea green eyes (which Katniss describes as “incredible”) and is tall and athletic
- Finnick is from District 4, the fishing specialists, and his weapon of choice was a trident, which he would use to finish off opponents after entangling them in a net
I was surprised to find that Finnick’s name appears in Catching Fire no less than 293 times, more than Gale’s at 181, Beetee’s at 125, Johanna’s at 105 and Prim’s at 87. The only character’s whose names are mentioned more frequently are Peeta’s and Haymitch’s, with 664 and 312 mentions respectively. Finnick’s name isn’t mentioned until Page 178 of Catching Fire as Katniss watches the Reapings and he is introduced on Page 193 when he offers Katniss a sugar cube. Even though Finnick is with Katniss in the arena, for a character that is introduced halfway through the book 293 mentions is quite a lot in a short space of time, certainly more than “just a supporting character”.
Going through the book again I counted 11 scenes that I consider major in terms of both the storyline and Finnick the character:
- Introduction pp193-196
- Training prior to the Quarter Quell pp209, 210, 211, 216-217
- Pre-game interviews pp232-233,241
- Entering the arena pp250-255, 256-257
- Saving Peeta pp260-261
- Escaping the fog pp277-281, 282-284
- Fighting the monkey mutts pp287-289
- Fight at the cornucopia pp311-312
- Jabberjays pp316-321
- The lightning tree/destroying the arena pp343, 348, 352
- Hovercraft to District 13 pp357-361, 362
The above doesn’t include general arena moments such as setting up the first camp (pp267-275), the first beach camp (pp292-295), Johanna’s arrival with Beetee and Wiress (pp297-302) or the second beach camp (pp325-334).
Even if I swing the axe pretty hard and nominate half of those scenes to hit the cutting room floor (either entirely, or parts of them), that is still a lot of Finnick. Can you imagine if the sugar cube scene was cut? Peeta’s rescue? How about running from the fog or fighting off the careers at the Cornucopia? For argument’s sake let’s estimate the running time of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ to be approximately the same as ‘The Hunger Games’, going for around 2 hours and 20 minutes. Also using ‘The Hunger Games’ as a model, we can pretty comfortably assume that the Quarter Quell arena will, hopefully, take up an hour of screen time or even slightly more, and the rest of the film will be based on the rest of the book. Because of this and the scenes Finnick is involved in I am tipping Sam to appear as Finnick for at least 25 minutes on screen. Of course this figure may turn out to be a lot higher and I haven’t taken into account scenes where Finnick is not involved and may just be in the background.
I am basing the 25 minute figure on a rough estimate of the length of each scene and including differing angles and non-speaking moments in those scenes. For instance, the breakfast scene on the train of ‘The Hunger Games’ between Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch took approximately 2 and a half minutes, and although Peeta is not on screen every second of this that still counts towards his total. Using this as an example for ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ the sugar cube scene may last 1-3 minutes depending on how it is done. Adding up the rest of the Capitol moments such as training sequences and the pre-game interviews will likely add another 5 or so minutes. Continuing on like this, and I think I am being pretty conservative, you can see it is quite easy to rack up 25 minutes worth of screen time. To give you more of an idea in ‘The Hunger Games’, Gale, a major character, was on screen for all of 3 minutes, and Cinna, a supporting character, was on screen for 5 minutes. Peeta was on screen for about 40 minutes, a figure that will no doubt grow in ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’. Based on this, the argument that Finnick is a minor supporting character, and therefore will hardly appear on screen, just doesn’t stick, especially considering his involvement in Mockingjay is equally as large and no doubt larger still given that it will be split into two films.
So there you have it, a whole lot of Finnick and that’s just in one film. Personally Finnick is among my favourite characters, so perhaps I am a little biased, but I see no reason why his role will be drastically reduced. Sure there will be cuts, but a lot of Finnick’s scenes involve Katniss and further the storyline, plus Nina Jacobson and co know how popular Finnick is among the fandom. I will admit I initially had some trepidation about Sam playing the role, but going back over the books and getting to know more about Sam I am now confident he has the skills to pull off the role and I’m glad he’ll get plenty of opportunity to do so. What do you think? Too much Finnick? Not enough?