On March 21, 2012, the French discovered Jennifer Lawrence in Katniss Everdeen at the cinema.
The Hunger Games celebrates its tenth anniversary today. On this occasion, First dig into its archives to trace its manufacture, and also return to its crazy success, at a time when a prequel on the future President Snow, the character played by Donald Sutherland in the films, is being created.
Hunger Games: the filming of the prequel should begin next year
The weekend of its cinema release, the first part ofThe Hunger Games took first place in the list of the best weekends of all time, for a film that is not a sequel. With 155 million dollars raised in three days in the United States alone, the film by Gary Ross came just after the 158 million The Dark Knight and the 169 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – part 2. If we add international receipts, we even rise to 214 million. A few months later, it ended its run with almost 700 million in revenue. The reasons for such success are manifold.
An adaptation of best sellers
The Hunger Games does not come out of nowhere: the film adapts the first volume of the eponymous trilogy of novels signed Suzanne Collins. Since the publication of the first volume in September 2008, the novels have been translated into 26 languages and published in 38 different countries. The first novel is still number one in the category “children’s novels” bestsellers from New York Times, four years later, when the first film was released. Suffice to say that it could already benefit from a fairly substantial fanbase, and was not starting from scratch. When the announcement of a film adaptation was made, sales increased significantly, from 9.6 to 24 million books sold in a few months, in the United States alone.
A strong topic
In a post-apocalyptic America of the future, the fascist central government dominates the various “districts” by obliging them each year to deliver a young man and a young girl in order to fight in the “hunger games”, life-and-death struggles televised by the ruling class. By making reference both to the myth of Theseus (the annual tribute of young girls given as food to the Minotaur) and to more geeky works of science fiction (Running Man, Battle Royale), while taking as heroes young adults in the heart of a love triangle, The Hunger Games achieves the delicate balance of pleasing everyone. The global card is thus due to diverse spectators: more than half of the American public of the first weekend was over 25 years old, and a good third were male. What deny those who describe The Hunger Games like a “film for young girls” ! Another clever idea from its distributor, Lionsgate: going out The Hunger Games off-peak in terms of blockbusters. At the end of March, the big studio films had not yet invaded cinemas, even if “summer of blockbusters” already tended to start earlier ten years ago, with Marvel super-films having hits in April/May, for example. To start with avengers, released on April 20, 2012, which earned over $1 billion at the box office. Released a month before him, the adventures of Katniss had had time to sell as many tickets as possible.
Hunger Games – the movie calls for leniency (review)
A cast of new faces… or almost!
It was also necessary that the public have heroes to identify with. “The film could never have been made without Jennifer Lawrence“said the director Gary Ross in the press. If the thriller revelation Winter’s Bone in 2010 had since starred in X-Men: The Beginning, she had a role a little behind. The actress celebrated her 21st birthday on the set, the age of her comrade Liam Hemsworthhitherto stamped “brother of Chris “Thor” Hemsworth”. At last, Josh Hutcherson was 20 years old during filming: without his name being known to the general public, he was however the most experienced at the time of filming, since we saw him in the credits of children’s productions such as The Secret of Terabithia, Zathura or Journey to the Center of the Earth. The casting therefore featured young actors, such as Twilight did it in its time.
In addition, the distribution of supporting roles is also well thought out. The production relied on confirmed actors (Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelsonwho initially refused before being convinced to play the heroine’s mentor…), a singing star (Lenny Kravitz) and younger actors who are already well established in Hollywood (Elizabeth Banks, Wes Bentley…).
Jennifer Lawrence: ‘I knew I would be famous’
The production of The Hunger Games took place – including filming – from spring 2011 to the end of August 2011. No budget overruns, no post-production problems, the presence of Steven Soderbergh (known for its speed of filming) as a second-team director… Scheduled to cost 75 million, the film would have finally asked the studio for 78 million dollars, an overrun of 3 million, which is still quite reasonable. Finally, the film is not converted into 3D: the production thus saves additional costs for a technique whose commercial results are beginning to become increasingly uncertain. But which still remains for some big studios one of the easy money strategies.
An effective promotion
Cleverly, all the teasers and trailers stop at the crucial moment: the famous “hunger games” of the title – that is to say the fight in mode “survival”. But above all, when the British censor asks the production to digitally remove traces of blood from the film, they immediately comply in order to be able to keep a sufficiently soft classification in England so that as many teenagers as possible can see the film.
Sequels in continuity
With $694 million in revenue, The Hunger Games quickly had the right to three sequels, the third volume of the books being cut in half for the cinema, like the last Harry Potter. The biggest hit, both in terms of audiences and reviews, is number 2, Ignitionwhich won 865 million greenbacks in 2013.
Also read about The Hunger Games :
Hunger Games: the conflagration sets the bar for the “young adult” very high [critique]
Francis Lawrence: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay is by far the most complicated film of my career”