It has become quite clear that the success of Lionsgate’s adaptation of Suzanne Collin’s novel The Hunger Games is anything but a “game.” Grossing more than $200 million worldwide in its first weekend, making it the third best opening weekend of all time, and the best ever for a non-sequel, it can definitely be considered a success, though the world’s fans seem to be “hungry” (okay, I’ll stop with the puns) for more. Yet this is more than a typical cash-in on a popular teenage novel, with 85 percent of critics giving the film a positive review (by comparison, the highest rated “Twilight” film is a tie between the first one and the third, “Eclipse,” at 49 percent) according to website Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, the series isn’t going anywhere any time soon, given word of an additional three films (splitting the last book of the trilogy, “Mockingjay,” into two, a la “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and “Breaking Dawn”), and film’s theatrical run only just beginning, but the question remains: what is about this battle royale-like series that seems to reach people?
Collin’s tales of Katniss Everdeen’s trials in the gladiatorial Hunger Games in the dystopian country of Panemhave been entertaining readers ever since the first novel, “The Hunger Games,” was published back in 2008, and began to top bestsellers lists; this trend continued with the sequels. Clearly, the books have an established fan base, so it makes sense that they would flock to the theaters right away, but to the point of becoming the third best opening weekend ever? These are not just book fans going: there must be something else drawing in audiences.
“The Hunger Games” strikes home with today’s issues, such as the occupy Wall Street movement, oppressive governments, youth revolts, environmentalism and the “99 percent.” It touches on issues we can not only relate to, but that we see going on around us, despite the story being set in the not-too-distant future. There seems to be something in the film and novel for everyone, which is yet another reason for the series’ success.
Then there is the series’ main character: a strong, courageous female lead that doesn’t rely solely on sex appeal, which is a nice reprieve from the cliché of a male dominated genre, and a fine role model for both guys and girls. Of course, there is the romantic triangle that seems to help sell books like hotcakes and cause fan wars, but if it helps keep the pages turning and putting bodies in seats, there is nothing wrong with that. It only helps add to the series’ widespread appeal. Besides, themes aside, it makes for a fun, if depressing, quality sci-fi adventure, and what’s not to like about that?