Friday, March 30, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games: Things I did see coming.

Congratulations to The Hunger Games for re-confirming my basic posit: An interesting, seriously considered movie, advertising that says what it's about, that validates fan participation actively and contains an exciting aspirational message will make money at the Box Office: Even if it stars a Girl! 

Lionsgate's book-to-film adaptation grosses a staggering $155 million, shattering records and surpassing any "Twilight" pic; overseas, "Hunger Games" opens to $59.3 million for a worldwide total of $214.3 million.  - The Hollywood Reporter
All right, if you're reading my blog, you probably expected that this movie would do well, that the fact that it stars a heroine and is based on an extremely successful series of books is no new news. Much hay seems to be being made about how The Hunger Games is an "original story" and "not a franchise." By that logic, neither was Twilight, the much touted "other successful girls franchise" that is aimed at this age group. For the sake of argument, let's say Bridesmaids is focused at the Over 25 Ladies, and that Twilight and The Hunger Games are aimed squarely at the Under 25 Ladies.

While the "Original" argument is certainly true for film executions of either franchise, we all know that that must be taken with a grain of salt, because both stories proved themselves long before a single frame was shot. Both film franchises had clear, established fanbases when they were greenlit, and those fanbases are largely to thank for the phenomenal success of both projects.

If you're a reader of the blog, you'll also know by now, that I have a particular affinity for The Hunger Games, I've written a number of articles, and will write a few more before the franchise finishes up I'm sure. What makes it easy to see why The Hunger Games is and will do better than Twilight is that while Twilight had limited story appeal outside it's core romance. The Hunger Games has aspirational meaning that appeals to a wide range of ages and both genders.

  • The Hunger Games is at its core, and clearly marketed as, a story of survival against oppressive, overwhelming odds.
  • The Hunger Games is about a person sacrificing herself for her sister.
  • The Hunger Games pits a lone hero against a clearly drawn antagonistic evil. The sort that sends kids to their death for amusement.

The LA Times has diagrammed the reasons for the film's success in this way:
  • Pre-Existing Book Franchise: a bestselling book is, perhaps more than ever, the strongest marketing tool a studio can have. 
  • The Indie Talent: Just two years ago at Sundance, the two biggest breakouts were "Winter’s Bone" and "The Kids Are All Right." They starred -- and catapulted to success -- two total unknowns by the name of Jennifer Lawrence and Joshua Hutcherson.
  • The Director makes Hits: Gary Ross hadn't directed a movie in nearly a decade. Yet with the teen action pic, he made a movie that not was only a mega-blockbuster but garnered solid reviews (71% positive, according to Movie Review Intelligence).
  • Kids/Fans: Though "The Hunger Games" is about teenagers and is a property devoured by same, more than half the audience for the Lionsgate film this weekend was above the age of 25.
  • A Story that doesn't need Bells or Whistles: For the last few years, the thinking has gone that the gloss of 3-D -- not to mention the higher ticket prices -- was the way to really profit from a movie. But "The Hunger Games" had the biggest-ever opening for a non-sequel by telling its story in good old-fashioned 2-D.
While the arguments in the LA Times are reasonable, I think that at their core, they source of all of those arguments come down to the story. It's the story of someone who genuinely doesn't want to hurt people, but who has to do what she must in order to survive and inspires others in her wake. She is no simpering Bella, she is an active, hearty, resourceful person who will adapt to her situation and thrive when she can and that is something that every person ultimately wants to emulate. 

The story has a clear setting that resonates with the current political climate even though the books were written years before Occupy Wall Street... but are really about a single person's experience. Above all, the story and the media fuse together beautifully, Katniss's story is as much about the perception of the events that surround her, and learning how identity can be manipulated as it is about her individual survival (the two weave together in themes that are explored in more depth in Mockingjay and Catching Fire).

A story like this is universal, it appeals to men and women, old and young; that is the reason this franchise is beating the numbers of those that have come before it, and why it will continue to for years to come.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Hunger Games: Things I should have seen coming

Because I've been suffering from a case of "No one would ever, possibly in a million-yea.... oh wait, of course they would"s here are two things that I didn't anticipate being part of Hunger Games Fever... that are giving me a mild fever.

The Hunger Games workout that will get you Killer Skinny:
Want to get into killer shape like Katniss, Peeta and the other Tributes from the Hunger Games? Exhale mind body spa's Core Fusion classes will hit every muscle in and around your core to help you transform into the ultimate fighter. Combine the classes below 3-4 times a week and you'll be no match for the other Tributes by the time the Hunger Games hits theaters March 23!
 Aaaaand, of course, The Hunger Games Diet.

Katniss Plant
Which is behind a login wall in its pure state but :
This focuses on foods "found in their natural state." It even includes "recipes inspired by actual meals in The Hunger Games books, including Capital Springtime Soup, Hunger Games Porridge with Berries and Almond Flour Biscuits."
And of course, Hunger Games wedding ideas...

But before we all headdesk too hard, A group is making a full length sequel to Mockingjay as fan fiction that is being profiled all over the place, so at lest there's that.