The Hunger Games, Hit or Hype?

The Hunger Games, Hit or Hype?
image courtesy THG – The Hunger Games Blog at

It seems that everywhere you turn people are talking about the release of the feature film The Hunger Games this week. Here at Gear Diary, we are the same way and we have been burning up the wires talking about it too! Some have read the books, some not. Some think it’s all hype, some not. In the end, we decided to share with you our thoughts going into the release of this high-profile film! Read on…

Christopher Gavula: Am I the only one who sees the “Hunger Games” trailer and says, “Yeah? So?” I don’t get the hype. It has much of a “seen it all before” kind of vibe to me. But I’m probably missing something big about it!

Bryan Eley: What??? You’re not a lemming, Chris? 😉 Notice how they haven’t shown any substantive fight scenes yet in the trailers? Interesting how they’ve danced around that with only tantalizing hints of the major part of the book to keep the public a-twitter, as it were. My wife read the book and liked the writing very much, hopefully the movie will be good.

Michael Anderson: I assume you haven’t read the book(s).  In which case you really have no clue.  Don’t mean to be harsh – but it is very much like saying ‘I saw the trailer for Lord of the Rings / Harry Potter / etc and don’t get the hype’. The Hunger Games became popular first as one of the best new young adult fiction books in recent years – in other words, it DESERVED it.

And if you think the fight scenes are what define the book, you clearly didn’t read it – or missed the point. The trailer shows what needed to be shown – because while the story centers around the fact that these kids are in an 24-player arena, KotH deathmatch (everything comes back to video games 😉 ) … that is just the framework upon which the actual story is laid.

Travis Ehrlich: I cannot wait to see it!!

Christopher Gavula: First – all I said was that I don’t get it so no need to get excited. A lot of people are going to see it who haven’t read the books, and if they see the trailer I suspect their reaction will be like mine.

Second – a good book does NOT have anything to do with whether a movie is good or deserving of all the hype. Stephen King’s book-to-movie translations come to mind. He has great books that usually became terrible movies.

Third – Books sometimes get awards and hype and that doesn’t always mean they are actually good. The Twilight books come to mind – they got awards and lots of readers, and they are some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen (and they are even worse movies).

All that said – you are right – I have no clue – but I already said that in my initial post!

Carly Zektzer: All I know is I have my tickets for the AMC dine in theater tonight. Drinks, food, comfy chairs, and a (hopefully) awesome movie. Yay date night!

Christopher Gavula: Well we will know soon enough! 🙂

Travis Ehrlich: We are waiting until next weekend to see it due to little league opening day and no sitters available.

Bryan Eley:

‘Hunger Games’ ads coyly don’t show the Hunger Games

Someone else noticed the trailer content as well…

Now, I did not say the fight scenes are what “define” the book, I merely said they were a “major part of the book”…a perhaps subtle, but important distinction. However, I think Chris’ observation is valid from a non-reader’s standpoint. If he hasn’t read the book, and the producing studio wants to maximize profits and net a larger audience, wouldn’t you as a marketing firm want to entice more people to see it? The onus is on the studio to interest the viewer, not for Chris to get up to speed and read the book and THEN be marketed to by the producers.

Michael Anderson: But as the saying goes ‘haters gonna hate’. ANY time something is popular, there are crowds of people lining up to put it down, dismiss it and say ‘meh’ … pretty much BECAUSE it is popular and they aren’t part.

In other words, there are two types of lemmings. Not saying Chris is one, but if he chose not to read the book, and while millions of readers and non-readers are more excited than before after seeing the trailers … perhaps it is time to say ‘it isn’t them, it is me’ – perhaps he/you/they just aren’t the target audience.

Joel McLaughlin: You know the Hype is bad when I saw a magazine earlier this week proclaiming that the movie was out and it’s great. The magazine was People and the publish date was: March 26….but it was on the shelf last weekend. 🙂

On the other hand, I SO hope it deserves it. The Hunger Games was probably the best book in the series. READ the books and you will see WHY it’s getting the hype. It is indeed VERY much like the hype around Harry Potter.

Michael Anderson: And UNLIKE Twilight – poorly written books, poorly acted movies … and we watched the last one (or part one) a couple of weeks ago and they have just stopped trying.

Joel McLaughlin: Incidentally, some early reviews are in. Houston Chronicles is the one I read. I don’t think there are spoilers. I will post this comment from the review in case you just don’t want to spoil it:

The violence was undeniable, though much of it was blurred, inferred, though not downright gruesome.

Bryan Eley: I guess I’m thinking from an objective marketing perspective, perhaps colored by the fact that I work in the multimedia marketing industry (largely pc software/hardware). It’s generally better to target a wide audience than the specific fanbase to maximize ROI, because you can generally assume the fanbase is a done deal…they initially only need “word of mouth” in a sense, so expending the bulk marketing dollars and message on the fanbase is wasted capital IMHO.

The books are excellent, no doubt. Mike, I’m not faulting the idea of the hype/marketing, or the merits of the book or movie quality, merely commenting on the method of marketing the hype from a purely greedy capitalist perspective. 😉

Christopher Gavula: Michael – I didn’t make a choice to NOT read the books – before the movie hype I had never even HEARD of the books.

So the movie trailer IS the introduction for many. I think you may be working from a false assumption. I think there are far more people like me who didn’t know – until the movie hype ramp-up – that the books even existed.

Joel McLaughlin: Probably because you don’t have tween kids… 🙂

Michael Anderson: But didn’t everyone who knew the books wonder about the violence and specific scenes? Have you seen the Prometheus trailer? I don’t feel I need to see the movie anymore so much stuff was packed in. With the hunger games you get a taste, a sampling … the way trailers USED to be done. Enough to see the quality of the acting and production without spilling the beans.

Christopher Gavula: And that is my point. The trailer didn’t give me anything that makes me want to see the movie. It looks derivative and dull. As a trailer and as a marketing tool it fails for me. Maybe it’s going to be a great movie, but I sure couldn’t tell that from the trailer. Maybe it is too reliant on people having foreknowledge from the books – I don’t know, but the trailer makes me think the whole thing is a big “meh”. But because of our discussion here, I plan to investigate the books.

And Joel – that is probably true and the fact that it comes from that target demographic does actually make me MORE likely to want to bypass it. That makes the content of the trailer MORE important if they want to reach a broader audience. But then maybe they only care about the tween market since it buys the most movie tickets.

Doug Moran: See the trailers and hearing/reading about it just made me want to re-read the Tripod books again. 🙂

Bryan Eley: I agree trailers ought not to be a mini-movies and agree with the sentiment that less can be more. Speaking of how trailers used to be done, it’s interesting comparing modern trailers (at least as seen on TV, for example, Hunger Games) with older ones, say Ben-Hur. Older trailers showed scenes that lasted several seconds, 3 to 5 or longer, whereas newer trailers tend to be One, Two, Cut to next scene…One, Two, Cut to next scene and so on. Maybe packing more content in a compressed time space constraint?

Michael Anderson: One last thing – this is by definition NOT a ‘tween’ thing, since that is a pre-teen age grouping (~10-12) and this is a PG-13 movie. Same for the books, they are most popular in high schools and somewhat in middle schools. In general ‘tween’ things are abhorrent to adults … 😉

Christopher Gavula: True, I have no kids so the age ranges and sub-groups are kind of lost on me, but, as I mentioned, this conversation makes me want to read the books but I still have no interest in the movie (yet)!

So, in the end, I’ve decided to read the books, starting with The Hunger Games, but I’m still not convinced the movie will be interesting.  I’ll be anxious to see how people like it now that it is playing. What do you all think?  Is it the most exciting thing to happen to movies this yea? Or is it all just a bunch of pointless hype? Did you read the book first?

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About the Author

Christopher Gavula
Chris has been a COBOL programmer, a desktop support technician, network engineer, telecommunications manager, and even a professional musician. Currently, he is focused on deploying Voice over IP technologies in a large, corporate setting. He started working full-time at the tender age of 14, even before there were PCs, and will probably be working and trying to finish “just one more project” as he’s lowered into the grave.

1 Comment on "The Hunger Games, Hit or Hype?"

  1. I haven’t seen the movie, and likely will not. My son never read this series, probably because HP and LOTR gave him a hunger more for the fantasy genre than another young adult series like this. However, I am all for any movies that get people hyped up to read more books. Bring them all on!

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