The evolution of The Hunger Games from novel to social phenomenon
The Hunger Games franchise is one of the most popular series of contemporary fiction aimed at teens and young adults. This sample research paper addresses the history and methods used to promote the franchise and explains its great success. Check out the other features offered by Ultius Inc., or continue on to discover how The Hunger Games became a driving force in popular culture.
The Hunger Games franchise
The Hunger Games series of novels by Stephanie Collins has been widely acclaimed by teens and adults and adapted into a film series that is successful worldwide. The underdog saga is one that has become very popular with audiences. The Hunger Games continues over multiple novels, developing of the story from the survival of a young girl to the revolution and overthrow of a cruel dictatorship.
Plot and theme of the novels
The story of Katniss Everdeen attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world is a story that resonates with not just teenagers but also adult fans of the genre. The theme of a post-apocalyptic world has become very popular in film, tv and books which can also explain the success of The Hunger Games. The event for which the novel is named is an annual event in which one boy and one girl are chosen from each of the twelve districts that now exist instead of countries. The chosen children are called tributes and must fight each other to the death.
The leap from page to screen
The novel was acquired by by Lionsgate in 2009 for film distribution. Seeing the film’s potential, Lionsgate provided the filmmakers with a much larger budget than the studio usually offered. The studio collaborated with Collins to adapt her books to the big screen. They then went on to cast up and coming actress Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role of Katniss Everdeen. The film became a very successful venture for Lionsgate who will work on the rest of the movies in the franchise. The Hunger Games was successful enough that it is now considered comparable to both the Twilight and Harry Potter franchises. The release of the film increased merchandise opportunities for the filmmakers and increased the fan base. The Hunger Games film also demonstrated the success and the impact a franchise film can have for the studio and for the fans of the book.
The impact of the film’s franchise can be seen in the amount of merchandise that has been produced and bought by loyal fans. The obsession that these fans demonstrate is on par with historical film franchises such as Star Wars which is considered the original film franchise. This is clearly evident in the Star Wars franchise in the way fans have pondered over nearly every detail from the make and model of starships to the dichotomy between the light and dark side of the Force. The Hunger Games film also created a new fan base which had not read the books but were exposed to the story through the films which brought in a fan base comprised of a large number of new fans who would normally not view a film of this type.
Drawing new fans from unexpected places
In order to understand the impact of The Hunger Games and franchises similar to it, a Qualtrix survey was completed of 120 responses from individuals who had viewed the film. The respondents were asked which genre of movie they preferred and the following characteristics became apparent:
- The majority of interviewees chose comedy and romantic comedy, genres decidedly absent from The Hunger Games.
- 46% of people saw the movie admitted that it was outside of their comfort zone, suggesting that the film prompted viewers to try new things.
- Most individuals admitted to seeing the film due to the extensive advertising and marketing campaigns that accompanied it.
Although many of the people surveyed watched The Hunger Games despite not being a fan of the genre, the success of the film cannot solely be attributed to the amount of advertising in television and stores that was done by the studio. When the respondents if they were familiar with The Hunger Games franchise:
- 98% reported Yes
- 2% reported that they had not heard of the film.
The vast amount of people who have heard of the film demonstrates the popularity of the film although it may not solely be attributed to advertising.
Word of mouth influence upon fans
The word of mouth advertising of the film from fans demonstrates the impact of the franchise for fans of the novel and for Lionsgate. When the respondents were asked how they heard of the film:
- 62% reported that it was from a friend.
- 38% heard about it from the movie trailer.
This word of mouth advertising generated different revenue for the franchise.
The film influenced fans of the movie to read the books if they had not already done so as it was reported that:
- 54% said that that the book inspired them to watch the movie
- 76% reported that the movie inspired them to read the book.
The popularity of the film has created more revenue for booksellers:
“If trends continue, Amazon customers will soon have purchased more Kindle and physical copies of Hunger Games titles in 2012 than in all of 2011” (Springen, 2011).
While film adaptations usually do expand the popularity of the novel they were adapted from the success of The Hunger Games has gone beyond normal profits that would have been seen by the publishers. As the sequels are released by the studios the publishers will continue to see profits for the sequels of the book franchise as well.
Social promotion and profitability
The amount of promotion generated on social media sites has also created a different stream of revenue for the franchise. In the survey:
- 18% of the respondents reported that they tweeted about the movie on Twitter
- 10% reported that they liked the film on Facebook.
In the future, the studio may rely more on the influence of social media to do more of the marketing as the survey respondents indicated that they heard of the film more from their friends than they did from the trailers. The increase in social media marketing may also increase the amount of people who go online to tweet about the film or like the film on their page.
The merchandise which was generated by the film also generated some alternate revenue sources for the film. The Hunger Games has also created a fan base which has been very devoted to the novel, film and its merchandise. Fans dress up as their favorite characters, buy mockingjay pins, district 12 pouches and various other merchandise devoted to the film.
“Lionsgate officials declined to discuss how licensed merchandise is selling. But a cornucopia of Hunger Games products – both authorized and not – are on the market” (Springen, 2011).
These unauthorized products demonstrate how profitable The Hunger Games market has become. This revenue that has been generated has been different from other films as it does not solely go the studio. The Hunger Games has generated profit for the publishers, booksellers, websites and the media. The different type of revenue generated by the film would also influence the studio to generate a different marketing scheme for the sequels. The studio may release more merchandise rather than have other businesses create unauthorized merchandise.
Profitability to Lionsgate
While Lionsgate did not solely gain all the revenue that was generated from the film it did provide the movie studio with many gains. Before the release of the film the studio was dwindling as it’s profits were at a loss each year. The film led to Lionsgate’s revenue to jump 97% leading the studio to gain some momentum. Despite this revenue Lionsgate still did not make a profit however the franchise’s sequels may lead the studio to become more successful in achieving the profits they need. The impact of The Hunger Games would also influence the studio to change their marketing campaign for future franchise films. The success of the film will influence all future marketing campaigns as the studios will attempt to repeat the success of these films. The different strategy for The Hunger Games can be seen in comparison to the box office success of other franchises.
Franchise film development
The current popularity of film franchises
In recent years, franchise films have become increasingly successful ventures for film studios. The Fast and Furious film franchise has spawned 7 sequels, and is a money making machine for film studios. As movie studios are heavily lacking in creative opportunities they will look towards novels and book franchises for film ventures. Film adaptations of novels such as The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series, Twilight and now The Hunger Games have been so successful that the film studios seek out alternate franchises from which to profit. The fascination of franchise films for studios is obvious as they generate buzz with just being a sequel. Without any marketing the studios understand that the film’s sequel will be popular. This low investment high return of franchise films leads to the increased desire of studio’s to invest in franchises. The success of these films was demonstrated by the respondents of the survey who were asked if they had heard of Harry Potter or Twilight:
- 98% of the respondents indicated that they had heard of both.
- 2% indicated that they have heard of Harry Potter but not Twilight.
The fact that 100% of the respondents had heard of some franchise film indicates the vast popularity of the franchise films in this age.
The potential of The Hunger Games
While The Hunger Games is compared to the first film of the Harry Potter and Twilight series, it surpassed both franchises in domestic box office superiority. The Hunger Games made double the amount Twilight amassed in it’s opening box office weekend. While The Hunger Games’ figures were very close to the opening of the first Potter movie, it’s numbers also beat Potter’s in the domestic box office. The sequels of The Hunger Games franchise are also predicted to surpass both the Harry Potter and the Twilight sequels in terms of their domestic box office figures and success.
“Where once the staggering box-office returns belonged to Harry Potter and Twilight, this weekend they belonged to The Hunger Games” (Ryan, 2012).
This could be attributed to the amount of marketing Lionsgate put into the film, however, as the survey indicated, it could be more accurately attributed to the popularity of the novel and the commitment of it’s fans to market the film through their own word of mouth.
Behind in the polls
Although the box office figures demonstrated that The Hunger Games was the more fiscally successful franchise, the survey indicated otherwise. The survey respondents were asked to rank the three franchise films in order as they preferred them. Their responses follow:
- The Harry Potter Series
- The Hunger Games
This disparity between box office figures and popularity can be attributed to the fact that individuals who were not fans of the novel went to see the film based on marketing rather than popularity. The studio heavily promoted The Hunger Games which led to it’s box office success.
The profit generated from the films is not the source of fascination for franchises with fans of the novel. These fans are fascinated with franchises for the characters and plots that are generated.
- Franchise films usually have a broad spectrum of character types with which audiences can identify.
- The integrity and bravery of Katniss Everdeen are traits which fans look up to and admire in the lead character of the series.
- These films usually are expansive sagas in which stories continue over multiple books.
- The films transport the viewers to whole new worlds in which they can lose themselves.
- These films frequently generate a fan bases who become very devoted to and protective of the franchise.
These fans read and reread the books, watch and rewatch the movies, buy the merchandise and use social media to connect with other fans to discuss their obsession.
The appeal of the novel
While the book series was originally geared towards young girls the film has been marketed to both children and adults alike.
“Not only does it appeal to boys and girls, but it also appeals to men and women. Our Hunger Games promotion is focused on a book and a series everyone must have” (Springen, 2012).
The success of the film demonstrates that this attempt to appeal to all demographics has been a successful marketing approach for the film studio and book publishers.
Marketing for the film
The demographics of the film’s viewers also demonstrates the success of the marketing campaign. The Hunger Games marketing was designed to appeal to both males and females alike. The strong female character of Katniss Everdeen was one that was promoted heavily towards women. The action heavy content of the film was promoted to males through trailers which showed action filled scenes. The film was marketed as a date movie which both women and men could enjoy together. Although the survey respondents were primarily female (64%), the popularity that the male (36%) respondents demonstrated towards the film indicates the success of the marketing campaign towards both men and women.
Building anticipation for sequels
The film’s success has also resulted in a buzz around the film’s sequels despite the fact that a marketing campaign has not yet started for the films. When the respondents of the survey were asked of the interested are you in seeing Catching Fire, 78% reported that they are interested in seeing the next movie. The creation of buzz around a film that has not yet been officially marketed due to the simple fact that it is a franchise demonstrates the importance of franchise films. The studios also are able to use the same cast and filmmakers and will not have to invest a lot of money in forming the film’s foundation. The studio also will not have to spend as much money on marketing and can use the lessons learned from the first film’s marketing to boost the sequel’s profits. It is likely, however, that the marketing for future installments of the film will rely more upon the technological advances that have influenced modern marketing strategies. For Lionsgate the sequels of The Hunger Games will generate profit. As the Twilight and the Harry Potter franchises have come to a close, The Hunger Games now has taken the place as the leading franchise in the current media arena. The Hunger Games will continue to be a successful venture for film studios and publishers alike.
Ryan, Joal. “The Hunger Games‘ Epic Opening Weekend: Where Does It Rank vs. Harry Potter and Twilight?” Entertainment Weekly 26 Mar. 2012.
The Hunger Games. Roadshow, 2012.
“The Hunger Games Franchise: The Odds Seem Ever in Its Favor.” PublishersWeekly.com. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
“’Hunger Games’ Videos Propel Lionsgate, Revenue Jumps 97 Percent.” Chicago Tribune., 8 Nov. 2012. 21 Nov. 2012.