Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hunger Royale: What Makes a Movie a Success

First off, let's get this out of the way. Hunger Games is Battle Royale. There is no way that the author of Hunger Games wasn't influenced by the Japanese flick, Battle Royale, in any number of aspects of the story of Games.

To give you some background, Battle Royale is a story that originated in Japan. The basic premise is that the government, in order to instill fear in a potentially riotous younger generation, they choose a class of teenagers, throw them on an island with enough supplies to last them for a few days, and a random weapon. Last one standing gets their life. All televised for a viewing audience that eventually leads to dissemination within the populace ultimately. Sounds familiar right?

Not to say that the two are identical, or that I even don't like Hunger Games, I thought it was actually pretty interesting. Almost like a PG version of Battle Royale.

Let me expand on that, I remember immediately saying after watching Battle Royale a number of years ago, "There is absolutely no way they could ever make this in the states" and that is still the case. With Hunger Games, there's a disconnect that comes with it. Yes, these are teenagers and yes they are in a competition to kill one another, but its not "us". Its a completely different landscape and is closer to the environment of Star Wars than it is to the environment of Battle Royale. Actually, based on the attire and the way people act, I'm almost 95% sure that this takes place in the same universe of "The Fifth Element". I was just waiting for Bruce Willis to burst down from the ceiling and proclaim, "MULTIPASS MOTHER FUCKER."

Battle Royale was fucking brutal, in almost every sense of the word. It took place in a landscape that was a LOT like ours and honestly, in a couple of decades, it wouldn't shock me if something kind of close to this happened. Sundays on Fox. To say nothing of the fact that the characters in Battle Royale WERE kids. Barring an exception or two, these were children in a monstrous scenario, where it was kill or be killed. They committed suicide. They cried. They wrestled with their imminent demise with hysteria.

In Hunger Games, I felt like they were about to all put sunglasses on themselves when they were dropped into the forest and say "Shit just got real." I didn't really feel the horror or claustrophobia of the situation in Games like in Royale. This comes back to the idea of the disconnect and removing the horror aspect to the general audience that Royale had. It's kind of like comparing John Carpenter's The Thing to the prequel/remake that came out recently.

Again, a couple complaints but I'll give Hunger Games a couple of cool notches on their belt. There were some really creative ideas that reflected our current culture. The idea of "sponsors" and needing to create a marketable persona in order to survive, that was cool. I dug that. Also the concept that everyone was starving, and the only way to get a steady stream of supplies to survive was constantly putting your name into the draw for the Games was also really innovative and not something that Battle Royale had. So kudos on those.

Overall, Hunger Games was a pretty solid flick, if you have a chance, watch Battle Royale for a more realistic, horrific, and overall better experience.

Hunger Games, as I type this, has made something akin to 160 million dollars for the weekend. That's CRAY CRAY (insane). Certainly, the fact that it was based on an already successful series of novels worldwide helped it immensely, but what made the novels and overall story so appealing? What made it cram so many people over such a wide demographic into both theaters and book stores....I mean Kindle stores?

Now I'm a marketer by trade. It's my life really. I sell myself and other things every single day. Whether it be for my 9 to 5, my comedy career, my comics, etc etc, I need to find the best ways to market to a general or target audience. When I was studying marketing/business administration in school originally, one thing that really struck me was one of my teachers explaining that there were two things that would stick with people above everything else.

Death and Sex.

There's a lot of subliminal advertising in marketing, and there's been a lot of examples of companies putting a secret message or image that's related to the two in their print ads. A cloud might happen to look like a skull or a penis or something like that. You might not even recognize it but the image sticks with you for a reason you may not fully comprehend, and thus the product does.

What does this have to do with Hunger Games? Well its kind of wrapped in both in a way. A bunch of vibrant, young participants working around a scenario that is mired in death. Its about characters dealing with mortality at a point in their lives when they should be thinking about anything but. The audience recognizes this and it strikes a chord. You know what else is like this?


Yeah I said it. I hate that series more than anything. They're pandering and poorly written and the story has been done a billion times over different mediums of entertainment. But much like Hunger Games, its a story that revolves predominantly around sex and death. Not only that, but it offers the audience a method of almost escaping the grasp of death with its vampirism and werewolf...ness? Young love that is so strong it escapes the grasp of death! TEENAGE GIRLS ASSEMBLE! (On a side note, how the fuck did the main characters fall in love with each other anyway? An 18 year old girl falls in love with a guy who's 200 years old? What the fuck could their conversations even be about?

"I have found myself adrift within the halls of time, learning things that most men would only dream of. The experiences I have had within my long life would fill all the books within a museum and the people I've had an effect on could populate the earth hundreds of times over."
".......I hate you."

Anyway, back on track. Finding a perfect combination of marketable aspects to a larger demographic allows for a movie like Hunger Games or Twilight to become far more successful than most other movies on the market.

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