The Washington Post

‘Hunger Games’ and Hollywood hype: Will non-fans of Suzanne Collins’s books be persuaded to see the movie?

Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, training for their “Hunger Games.” (Murray Close/AP)

Once upon a time, in a pre-online era, publicizing a movie meant plastering giant posters on billboards, buying ad time on television and deploying a film’s stars for as many interviews as they could jam into a single junket.

Today, promoting a major motion picture still involves all of those things. But as I noted in this recent article about “Hunger Games” and Hollywood hype, it also requires studios to capitalize on social media chatter and blogosphere churn by rolling out casting announcements, photos, trailers, online games and Tumblrs over a series of months to ensure that hype reaches its climax just before the big premiere.

View Photo Gallery: “The Hunger Games,” the film adaptation of the first book in Suzanne Collins’s trilogy about a dystopian future where the government pits children against each other in an annual fight to the death, opens March 23.

“The Hunger Games”adopted that approach extremely effectively, constantly feeding tidbits and engaging online experiences (see Capitol Couture for one example) to the fans of the Suzanne Collins books that inspired the film. Those efforts that helped maintain high “Hunger” interest and media coverage for more than a year. (The New York Times published this detailed look at the evolution of Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games” marketing strategy; it’s worth a read.)

Given the scope of the promotional blitz and the mostly positive reviews ”The Hunger Games” has received — Post critic Ann Hornaday weighed in today and said it “hews to the most important contours of Collins’s book” — it’s guaranteed to have a strong weekend at the box office. Certainly, as advance ticket sales have suggested, the pro-District 12 legions who devoured the novels will flock to their nearest multiplex to see it, possibly multiple times. But the real measure of the potential in the “Hunger Games” franchise may be measured by how many non-readers — the Katniss Everdeen novices — decide to buy tickets.

The appeal of “The Hunger Games” — with its action and grim, death match premise — seems broader than the series to which it’s most often compared: “Twilight.” Yes, there’s a love triangle in “The Hunger Games,” but it’s definitely secondary to the core story about survival in a government-created fitness test. If “Twilight” is seen as a vampire chick flick, “Hunger Games” may be perceived as an action flick that just happens to have a chick in it. Translation: Guys may be more inclined to see this than the Bella/Edward wedding story.

View Photo Gallery: Clothing and style play a large role in Suzanne Collins’ young adult trilogy, “The Hunger Games.” Costume designer Judianna Makovsky, who previously worked on the “Harry Potter” films, had a difficult task of bringing to life the elaborate garments of the rich Capitol residents, and accurately portraying the largely impoverished coal mining region of District 12.

But you tell me, Celebritology readers. After the nonstop onslaught of “Hunger Games” hype, do you plan to see the movie? Or are you going to pass and get your blockbuster kicks in May, when “The Avengers” comes out? Vote in the poll below and post a comment to share your plans.

When she isn’t at a movie theater or writing about movies, Jen Chaney is ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.


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