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Can ‘The Hunger Games’ Become the Ultimate Hollywood Franchise?

In one of the early podcasts that I was a guest for on Hunger Games Fireside Chat, they discussed how big ‘The Hunger Games’ could become. Some of my fellow guest panelists said that it would be bigger than Twilight and I believe one even said bigger than Harry Potter. At the time, I had a hard time believing it, no matter how much I loved the books. After all, ‘The Hunger Games’ movie had barely 200,000 Facebook fans at the time while Twilight and Harry Potter boasted tens of millions of fans. There would have to be massive crossover and with violent content such as that of Panem’s death pageant, I had a hard time seeing that happening.

Fast forward to March 2012 and ‘The Hunger Games’ movie page on Facebook has ballooned to a much bigger Facebook fanbase of 3.5 million. Fantastic, yet still a massive 30 million fans behind Harry Potter and 28 million behind The Twilight Saga. That’s millions upon millions of fans on the largest social network on the planet that have not yet “liked” ‘The Hunger Games’.

The movie set the box office on fire with the third highest opening weekend of all time, beating out 7 of the 8 Harry Potter movies and all four Twilight films with a North American debut of $152.5 million dollars. The numbers that came in were staggering. Gary Ross and the cast had not only created a movie fans loved, but one that fans had to see more than once or twice. 61% of the audiences were female, a whopping 19% lower than Twilight’s 80% female audience, which means that the gender lines have officially been crossed when it comes to the world of Panem.

But where are those millions of Twilight fans? Have they succeeded in resisting the girl who was on fire? A lot of us have gotten caught up in the Twilight vs Hunger Games fandom rivalry at some point and they’ve clawed back and perhaps the uppity demeanor we sometimes can display on our side turned them off to the likes of Katniss Everdeen, but with The Twilight Saga’s time in the spotlight coming to a close later this year with Breaking Dawn Part 2, surely these fans would become curious and cross over into the world of Panem. Besides, wouldn’t most of the young Twihards eventually age up, get over Bella and Edward, and move on to the next logical series?

And what about the Harry Potter fans? The movies ended last year and although set in a completely fictional world of witches and wizards, Jo Rowling never flinched at approaching the topic of death in her 7 book series, so why wouldn’t those fans cross over? Is the premise of ‘The Hunger Games’ simply too raw and gritty for the fantasy fans behind the Boy Who Lived?

Which brings me to the question of who comprises the audience that pulled in $214 million dollars around the world this past weekend. If there are so many millions of Harry Potter and Twilight fans out there that are not fans of ‘The Hunger Games’ page, then just who brought in all that money? Have those people simply stopped using Facebook? Are they not fans, but went to see the movie anyway? Am I putting too much weight into Facebook fan counts?

It looks to me as though ‘The Hunger Games’ could have an audience of its own and one that doesn’t primarily live on Zuckerberg’s network. You could say that the “other fans” simply don’t know about the movie’s Facebook page, but in this day and age when Facebook is shoved down your throat whether you like it or not, that’s a bit of a stretch for the people already on it.

And if those millions eventually do cross over to this fandom, adding to the non-Facebook crowd that propelled ‘The Hunger Games’ into box office history, then just imagine the potential combined audience this franchise really has. If Lionsgate can accomplish this much with their marketing plan in just six months, imagine what they can do in the 20 months leading up to Catching Fire? By then, ‘The Hunger Games’ could become the ultimate Hollywood franchise, merging three massive fandoms into one burning fireball of an audience.

It’s been said by the cast many times that the broader appeal of ‘The Hunger Games’ comes from its message along with the idea that unlike invading orcs from Middle Earth, evil noseless wizards, or gorgeous vampires, you can already draw real comparisons between Panem and the world today. In the books, Katniss is strong, independent, and a provider who we constantly marvel at for her keen understanding of the political landscape she lives in. Despite the appeal of the young adult fantasy genre, there’s just something about Panem that hits you close to home and draws you in, making ‘The Hunger Games’ almost like an awakening. I’d love to see the youth of today as aware as Katniss was.

I hope that all the buzz surrounding the movie finally gets the best of all the Potterheads and Twihards that haven’t given in yet. I hope they’re so curious they can’t help but give it a try. I hope they pick up the book that changed my life. Their lives may just change too.

About Crystal Watanabe Archive

All posts under the "Crystal Watanabe Archive" were originally written by Crystal Watanabe and posted on Mockingjay.net. Original comments have been deleted and discussion closed.

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