What does it take to make a movie a box-office smash? With The Hunger Games opening in (gasp!) just four days, the New York Times explored that very question in relation to the story of Katniss Everdeen. What the discovered was that Lionsgate has been able to do quite a big with a (in Hollywood terms) relatively small budget– while at the same time staying true to the anti-violence messages in the books:
Last summer, the Lionsgate team, including Nina Jacobson, a producer, and Joe Drake, then the studio’s top movie executive, started debating how to handle the movie’s subject. The usual move would have been to exploit imagery from the games in TV commercials. How else would men in particular get excited about the movie? But Mr. Palen was worried.
“This book is on junior high reading lists, but kids killing kids, even though it’s handled delicately in the film, is a potential perception problem in marketing,” he said.
One morning, he floated a radical idea: what about never showing the games at all in the campaign? Some team members were incredulous; after all, combat scenes make up more than half the movie. “There was a lot of, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t see how we can manage that,’ ” Mr. Palen recalled.
Eventually, he prevailed. “Everyone liked the implication that if you want to see the games you have to buy a ticket,” he said. Boundaries were also established involving how to position plot developments; in the movie, 24 children fight to the death until one wins, but “we made a rule that we would never say ‘23 kids get killed,’ ” Mr. Palen said. “We say ‘only one wins.’ ” The team also barred the phrase “Let the games begin.”
“This is not about glorifying competition; these kids are victims,” Mr. Palen said. A few months later, when a major entertainment magazine planned to use “Let the Games Begin” as the headline on a “Hunger Games” cover, Ms. Fontaine, traveling in London, frantically worked her cellphone until editors agreed to change it.
You can read the rest of the article over on the New York Times!
So, do you think Lionsgate has done a good job with marketing The Hunger Games, and do you agree with their decision to only use the first half of the movie in promotions? Let us know in the comments!