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Is The Hunger Games the next “it” thing?

About a year ago, The Hunger Games was without a director, cast, and solid fan base (outside of those who read the books).  Oh, how things have changed!  Now, The Hunger Games is being groomed to be the next big thing.  It is hard to go a day without hearing about this movie.  From TV, internet, and good ol’ fashioned paper ads, the film’s marketing team is putting the word out there in every medium. Their handwork seems to be paying off as buzz for the film continues to grow with its Facebook page already garnering over 2 million likes, the topic trending on Twitter, and numerous other social media sites show signs of high anticipation for the film’s premiere.  The film does not actually premiere until March 23rd, therefore the excitement for it can only go up from here.  While it is almost certain that The Hunger Games will be a commercial hit, there is doubt that the film may not build enough of a fan base in order to spark interest in the sequels.  This type of disappointment has plagued many franchise hopefuls, including The Golden Compass, Eragon, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, all of which were based upon popular book series on par with The Hunger Games.  Yet unlike these failed franchises, there are a few things that put The Hunger Games on par with success stories, Harry PotterTwilight, and Lord of the Rings.  Now let’s review what sets The Hunger Games on track to become the next “it” thing in Hollywood.

A young, attractive cast:

Where would Twilight be without Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner?  And don’t make me even begin to ponder over Harry Potter without the dream team of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint!  It is casts like these that make fans want to watch film after film in a series.  If you do not connect with characters in a series, there is no reason to keep going with it.  As one can see from the picture above, there are a variety of fresh faces that mark the future of Hollywood.  Jennifer Lawrence was almost completely unknown three years ago, but after an Oscar nomination and a number of high profile roles, she is one of the most recognizable faces in the business.  Yet Lawrence is not the only notable name in the young cast: Isabelle Fuhrman (Clove) was riveting in her breakout role in Orphan, Liam Hemsworth (Gale) starred alongside Miley Cyrus in The Last Song, and the most successful of them all is Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) who has built up quite a formidable filmography with notable roles in The Kids Are All Right and Bridge to Terabithia.  The rest of the young cast has now found their big break.  While little may be known of them, their brief appearances in the film’s promotional work seems extremely promising.

Now the kids shouldn’t get all the attention!  The adult cast of The Hunger Games packs enough punch to take out all the tributes in one blow.  Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Donald Sutherland, and Lenny Kravitz all snagged noteworthy roles in the film.  Even if each of these actors bring their C-game, they will make this film entertaining.  The lone female among the big boys seems to be the one bringing the most to her role.  Elizabeth Banks is unrecognizable in  her portrayal of Effie Trinket, District 12’s tribute escort.

Is Elizabeth Banks channeling Lady Gaga?

This cast seems to be giving Harry Potter a run for its money, which gathered some of Britain’s greatest actors into one of the finest cinematic ensembles.  The Hunger Games cast is bringing together Hollywood veterans alongside Hollywood hopefuls in what could be the best ensemble of 2012.  This cast alone is enough to make me want to watch the sequel.  Let’s hope America feels the same way!

A Well Respected Director

Lord of the Rings had Peter Jackson, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had Chris Columbus, and Twilight had…… Catherine Hardwicke.  Well we all know Twilight cannot touch Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, but it is still one of the most successful franchises in film history.  Anyways, a number of directors were competing for the coveted position of The Hunger Games director, and the dark horse candidate ended up snagging the job.  Gary Ross is a four-time Oscar nominee, yet The Hunger Games is not quite his cup of tea.  Pleasantville and Seabiscuit remain his only prior directing gigs and have little in common with the gloom and doom storytelling of this new project.  Ross is more well known for his writing credits which include Big, Dave, and The Tale of Despereaux,  and now he has cowritten The Hunger Games screenplay with author of the series, Suzanne Collins.  This is great news for fans of the books as it means that the film should be well written while staying true to its source material.

Now before we write off Ross as a light, sentimental director, take a look at some of these film stills.

Based upon these stills, Ross has beaten the odds by capturing the grittiness that this kind of tale requires.  While this new territory is not his usual fare, he is making excellent progress.  With a teen franchise adaptation, there is a lot riding on the director’s adaptation.  Book fans can be very critical if the film messes with their favorite parts in any way.  Judging from what we have seen, Ross is taking some of the pivotal moments of the story (i.e. The Reaping, The Tribute Parade) and depicting them almost exactly as they happen in the novel.  This loyalty to the story should definitely please the series’s diehards.  Also, considering that the novel seems to play out in a cinematic fashion, an adaptation should be manageable.  He has a lot riding on him, but I trust that Gary Ross will deliver once again.

An insanely awesome premise:

Who doesn’t want to see a survival of the fittest death match in high definition?  With The Hunger Games you not only get entertaining action, you also receive a heart felt survival tale of love and dedication from a selfless girl who will do anything for the wellbeing of her family.  There is something for everybody in this heart-stopping race for survival.  The only thing that can compare is the Japanese film Battle Royale.  In the film, a futuristic government captures a group of forty-two Japanese ninth graders and forces them to battle to the death on a deserted island.

The film was a smash hit in Japan and made a bit of a splash overseas.  The idea of teens killing each other off enticed audiences and made for good entertainment as well as quality social commentary.  Yet besides the killings, The Hunger Games has one other aspect that always draws teens: romance.  Does not matter what genre it is, if a film contains an inkling of romance, teens will have their interest perked.  Plus it doesn’t hurt that The Hunger Games’s Katniss is stuck in the same conundrum as Twilight’s Bella.  As the Twilight Saga comes to a long overdue end this November, fans will be itching for a new love triangle and The Hunger Games could be the solution to their problem.

Action, adventure, romance, and little bit of family drama are all components that are sure to draw in audiences of all shapes and sizes.  Unlike Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, The Hunger Games is poised to be the first US based franchise that has both male and female appeal in a long time.  While superhero flicks may draw some females, they are predominately male based, and other than that, very little has come out has come out of the US in hopes of spawning a franchise.  At long last, countless couple feuds over what movie to see will be silenced.

March 23rd cannot come fast enough!  As usual January and February have offered very little for movie lovers, but I am certain things will turn around after the premiere of The Hunger Games.  Lionsgate, the film’s studio, is depending upon the success of this film, and if the supporters of the film follow through this could turn out to be the biggest opening of 2012 thus far.  As discussed above, the film has all the makings for a success story and shows no signs that it will disappoint.  Let’s hope “The World Will Be Watching” as the film’s tagline suggests!  The future of Hollywood seems a little lackluster, but a Hunger Games sequel is sure to brighten things up a bit.  Happy movie-going!!

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2 comments on “Is The Hunger Games the next “it” thing?

  1. Jeyna Grace
    March 7, 2012

    I dont like the main actress.. to me, she doesnt represent katniss well enough,.

  2. kevinsmovies
    March 7, 2012

    I was bit unsure of Jennifer Lawrence’s casting at first, but I feel she is one of the only young actresses that can handle the strength that Katniss has.

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