Written by author Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is a Science Fiction novel targeted at young adults. It is the first book in a trilogy; the second novel is called Catching Fire, followed by the third book Mockingjay. The three books have already been adapted for the big screen by screenwriter Billy Ray. The director of Seabiscuit (2003), Gary Ross, will direct the first film in the trilogy, which are set to become a major Hollywood franchise. Independent film star Jennifer Lawrence has bagged the leading role against stiff competition. About 30 actresses competed for the part of the lead character.
It was Lionsgate Entertainment that acquired the worldwide distribution rights for a film adaptation. Nina Jacobson’s production company, Color Force, will produce the movie. Lionsgate Entertainment head of motion picture production Ali Shearmur will be in charge of overseeing the production of the movie. Shearmur said, “The Hunger Games is an incredible property and it is a thrill to bring it home to Lionsgate. This is exactly the kind of movie I came to Liongate to make, youthful, exciting, smart and edgy. We are looking forward to working with Nina and Suzanne to create a movie that satisfies audience’s hunger for high-quality entertainment.” Filming will begin around late spring 2011, with a targeted release date in cinemas of March 23rd, 2012. The first film will have a budget of $60 million.
The Hunger Games takes place in a country called Panem, after the destruction of North America, and is set in an unknown future time period. Panem consists of a wealthy capitol city surrounded by twelve poorer districts. The book begins in district 12, in the coal rich region of Appalachia. Following a violent rebellion by the districts against the Capitol, each year a boy and a girl between the ages of 12-18 are required from each of the twelve districts. They are selected randomly and made to participate in “The Hunger Games”. The games involve the participants having to fight to the death in perilous outdoor arenas until only one remains alive. The games are punishment for the violent revolt against the capitol. These games are televised live for the perverse entertainment of the wealthy inhabitants of the capitol, who watch on with delight from within the warmth, comfort and affluence of their homes. The central character is Katniss Everdeen, a fatherless 16 year old girl from district 12. Katniss volunteers for the 74th games in place of her sister, Primrose. The other main character is Peeta Mellark, a boy whom Katniss knows from school and who once saved her life by giving her bread when her family was starving.
The Hunger Games book garnered much praise from critics. Author Stephen King said the book is addictive and compared it to “Shoot-it-if-moves videogames in the lobby of the local eightplex — you know it’s not real, but you keep plugging in quarters anyway.” He added, “There are displays of authorial laziness that kids will accept more readily than adults.” King gave the book an overall B grade. Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series said, “I was so obsessed with this book. The Hunger Games is amazing.” Elizabeth Bird, author of School Library Journal, praised the novel and said, “It’s exciting, poignant, thoughtful and breathtaking by turns.” The review called it one of the best books of 2008.
Booklist gave The Hunger Games a positive review as well, praising the romance and character violence in the book. Critic Lev Grossman reviewed the first book for Time magazine and said, “The story inspires in readers a kind of zeal I haven’t seen since the early days of Twilight.” On the violence in the book he added, “It’s fairy-tale violence, not a cheap thrill but a symbol of something deeper.” He went onto praise Collins’s writing, “After a life spent in freezing poverty, Katniss experiences pleasure, warmth, food, pretty clothes with almost unbearable intensity, and that’s where Collins’s writing comes alive. Not sex though. The Hunger Games isn’t just chaste like Twilight, it’s oddly non-erotic.”
Since Feb 11th, 2010, The Hunger Games has sold 800,000 copies with over 2.9 million copies in print. Rights have been sold in 38 countries around the world. These facts and figures could indicate the movie will be a box office smash.
Contact the Author: MikeStringer@ArtsandEntertainmentPlayground.com