Marketing Genius: A note on THE HUNGER GAMES, & putting an end to the Twilight rumors

By Shea Lord | Tags: , , ,
November 11th, 2011

Marketing Genius: A note on THE HUNGER GAMES, & putting an end to the Twilight rumors

By Shea Lord | Tags: , , ,
November 11th, 2011

In my last post, I spoke of Nina Jacobson, producer of The Hunger Games movie(s) and promised more to come— well this is it, friends. First off, I am a huge fan of the series, not in the “team whatever” sense, but in the sense that I was touched by the novels, loved the characters, and I am anxiously awaiting the movie release in March (I’m also not-so-secretly searching for a way to work on the set of the sequel, Catching Fire. Just throwing that out there, *cough* Nina-in-case-you’re-reading *cough*). But let’s get down to brass tacks as always.
The Hunger GamesJacobson was on The Producers panel that came to the Savannah Film Festival, thanks to SCAD. As a HG fan, I was thrilled, but also relatively skeptical, I must admit. Who has not heard the awful rumors? “The Hunger Games is the next Twilight.” “The movie will just be another money-machine franchise that exploits fan-girls of all respective ‘teams.’” When I read these statements, in more or less words, all over the internet, I was crestfallen. Would I even want to be on the set of Catching Fire by the time the first movie premiered? Ahem, not that I’m, like, desperately hoping to or anything… But how could Hollywood do this to such a wonderful story? Yes, it is for young-adults, and I’ll admit many of my favorite novels still fall into this category, but The Hunger Games trilogy addresses many mature issues— namely starvation, corruption, and death/murder. The nation must really be hurdling towards a Panem-like future if they can twist this story into another love-triangle franchise!

Alright, I’m probably exaggerating; however, after listening to Nina speak of THG at the panel, all hope was restored. Her passion for Suzanne Collins’ trilogy was practically tangible in the small art gallery where the panel was held as she recounted reading the first novel, falling in love with it, then tracking down and “wooing” the author into trusting her with the rights to make the film. This all took place before the series became a huge national bestselling success and was listed on my younger brother’s senior summer reading list (by which I heard of it). Mrs. Jacobson knew she had found something truly great and took action.

After acquiring Collins’ blessing, she had to find a studio. Here’s the beauty of the situation: when you know you’re sitting on gold, you can be picky. Lions Gate, a national leading production studio, was chosen with fidelity to the book in mind. As an independent, smaller studio (as in, not dominated by moguls but still big enough to handle large-scale distribution) it could provide the backbone every blockbuster production needs, while still maintaining the integrity of the material. This was wonderful to hear.

There was a catch, as always, that came chained to the rainbows and ponies of choosing Lions Gate. If the first film did not make enough profit, there would not be a greenlight for the rest of the series, at least not with this same lovely production studio. Now, I don’t honestly know what constitutes “enough” these days— I think any film that profits should be considered a huge success. This was the condition of the deal struck, though, and commercialism must once again rear its ugly head. Could a national bestseller really fail to provide a profitable audience? Uh, yes. In the words of Nina Jacobson herself, which perfectly sums up the risk the studio took in creating the movie, “How in the world are we gonna make a movie about kids killing each other?!”

Remember what I said about release dates in my last post? Not only does one need to worry about the cinematic competition, but the political/social climate at the time the movie premieres. These are things outside of anyone’s control. For instance, what if, a week before The Hunger Games is released, the nation experiences an absolute tragedy similar to Columbine or the Virginia Tech Massacre? The audience could go from massive to nothing just like that. Like I mentioned above, there are some mature themes in this series. Pair that with kids and young-adults, and emotions are much more inclined to reach extremes, which is certainly part of what makes the novels so brilliant yet the movie so risky. Plan-B? Market the hell out of it.

Will The Hunger Games movie be the next Twilight? No. I have high hopes thanks to passionate souls like Nina. Will it exploit Twihard-like fandom for every penny? Yes! Is there shame in that? No! Read my last post— we gotta make a living somehow, and the Twihards obviously don’t mind. Plus, I want Lions Gate behind every HG film to come. Yes, please, and thank you.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4S9a5V9ODuY&w=560&h=315]

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