We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense.
If there’s one thing Hollywood loves, it’s a prefab franchise of stories to base movies on. From the Harry Potter and Twilight movie series to the onslaught of comic book adaptations that have come out for the past eleven years and counting, the film industry is always on the lookout for a property that has proven itself with fans in other media that they can base a successful and lucrative movie series on. In March of 2012, Lionsgate Pictures will premiere the first installment of The Hunger Games, a movie that they hope will kickstart an all-new blockbuster film franchise.
The Hunger Games is based on the first volume in a trilogy of young adult science ficion novels by author Suzanne Collins. The trilogy is set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world in “the not too distant future” in which the tyrannical government that controls everything chooses a number of young men and women from some of the poorer districts each year to compete in a brutal televised event in which they battle to the death. The central protagonist of the series is a 16-year old girl named Katniss Everdeen who volunteers for the games in place of her twelve year old sister. The books follow Katniss as she and her fellow contestants, dubbed “tributes” by the government, try to survive within the game. The plot of The Hunger Games has been compared to the popular Japanese manga and film series Battle Royale, only with less gratuituous violence, and the themes of the stories reportedly make references to the Greek myth of Theseus, the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Western world’s obsession with reality television.
The Hunger Games books have a small but ever-growing cult following, and news of the upcoming film adaptation have turned even more people on to the book series. The film adaptation of the first book is directed by Gary Ross and will feature Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, X-Men: First Class) in her first starring role in a major Hollywood film. The impressive supporting cast includes newcomers Liam Hemsworth and Willow Shields as two of Katniss’ fellow tributes as well as such familiar faces as Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Toby Jones, Woody Harrelson, and Donald Sutherland. With that impressive pedigree of actors in tow, Lionsgate is hoping that The Hunger Games will not only win over the fans of the original book series but also attract enough new fans to make this the next in the most recent list of tentpole movie series.
In an era in which the major studios are shying away from new, untested properties and are focusing instead on more sequels, remakes, and adaptations of more familiar fare (Battleship, anyone?), Lionsgate’s decision to adapt The Hunger Games may be seen as a risky move by some. The bleak, violent subject matter of the storyline may not appeal to every filmgoer, but the studio is hoping that the impressive cast and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance will compel enough viewers to make the film a hit. According to IMDB.com, the film cost nearly $75 million to make, which isn’t much by today’s standards of mainstream blockbusters, and the fact that it comes out months before many of the bigger films of 2012 like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises may make it one of the first surprise hits of next year. This of course will depend on whether the film will actually be good, so we all have to wait another seven months to find out.