Uninformed Observations About The Hunger Games
I’ve heard bits and pieces of the Hunger Games series read aloud in my house, but in reality I know very little about it. I know that the little bit I heard sounded intriguing and really great. I know that my daughter, who has dyslexia and has been struggling with her reading, powered through the first almost 400 page book in less than a week. I know several adults that powered through the whole series in short order because the material is so compelling. I know that the book is very violent and has kids killing kids.
As far as the movie goes I also know very little. I haven’t seen a trailer, but I do know that the images I’ve seen look lush and that the film stars Jennifer Lawrence. I have seen Jennifer Lawrence in very few things, but I know that she was fabulous in Winter’s Bone. If you want to see a really great, simple, gritty, indie drama and you haven’t seen Winter’s Bone, go see it. It’s great, she’s great, and currently it’s streaming for free on Netflix.
What else do I know about the movie? Well I know that Lions Gate is producing it and that they are looking for a new franchise since their cash cow Twilight series has run it’s course. I heard on the radio this morning that the film spent under 100 million on the movie, which is smart. The last thing that I know is that my family is very, very skeptical that the film will be of any quality. They have been disappointed time and time again by poor movie versions of their favorite books. They probably have good reasons to be afraid. When I was in school one of my screenwriting teachers stated that he always thought it was better to adapt a short story as opposed to a novel, because you could actually hold onto the entire short story when making a feature, but you would have to cut out tons of story to turn a novel into a feature.
What I do know is that the studio is going to find itself in a bit of a tough spot, because from what I know it sounds like the very foundation of the books involves teens and a very dreary, stark, violent world. Of course the most profitable thing that a studio can do is to get a PG-13 rating. Then the studio can hope to capture the entire available audience, whereas if they got an R rating it would severally limit their box office potential. The flip side of that coin is that in order to get the PG-13 rating, what will they have to cut out of the book in order to get their desired rating?
One thing to keep in mind is that we are talking about a huge studio, that has muscle behind them. What they will be able to get away with as far as a PG-13 rating will probably be more than if I made the movie. After all the great movie Hannah got a PG-13 rating and it had a lot of violence.
The problem is also that this is a big movie. They spent nearly $100 million dollars, which means that as a business decision they are going to try and make this film as mainstream as possible. Big budget movies also rely heavily on merchandising and there is no doubt that New Line is trying to figure that out. I heard that at one point that they were considering trying to license a Hunger Games Barbie. They didn’t do it though, so perhaps that is a beacon of hope that the studio has made good decisions.
In an effort to make the film mainstream will they dumb it down? I understand that there is a romance story line in the book. Will they attempt to make the movie more mainstream by downplaying the violence and up playing the romance? This quandary does make me think that the odds are tough against the movie being great…. at least for those that have read the books.
As I have said I haven’t read the books, so perhaps I’ll love it.
One can hope.