Can The Hunger Games live up to expectations?
Like for many readers, The Hunger Games came as a shock and a very good surprise to me. And as for the Larsson’s trilogy, I had mixed feelings when I learned there will be a screen adaptation. Part of me wants to spend more time with the characters and the universe Suzanne Collins brilliantly built and part of me is just terribly scared this will turn into a mainstream movie, potentially damaging the integrity of the books on which it is based.
Few months ago I read the script and…let’s just say I’m not a fan of the draft; but I also know a lot can change between now and the moment production starts –and even after, so there’s still hope.
I’ve been following the casting frenzy closely and although production is scheduled to begin around Spring 2011, cast members have yet to be reconfirmed.
With many great characters in the trilogy, it is no surprise that everybody and anybody wants to take part of it and has an opinion about it. But the decisive choice is clearly who is going to play Katniss, the unique and wild heroine?
In the book, Katniss is described as a 16 year-old girl with the instinct of a survivor. She has straight long black hair, which she normally pulls back into a long braid, olive skin, and gray eyes. After her father’s death in a mine explosion, she becomes the primary supporter of her mother and younger sister, hunts illegally for food while practicing her skills of great archer.
For those who unfamiliar with The Hunger Games (the first book of the trilogy), it takes place in a sci-fi dystopia where North America is divided into 12 districts working for the Capitol. Every year, each district has to send two kids–a boy and a girl- between 12 and 18 year-old to participate to the Hunger Games: a TV show that takes place in an arena in which children kill each other until there is all but one remaining. And guess who is going this year ? Bingo. Katniss.
So the girl will kill or get killed. And that’s not a detail when it comes to casting someone.
Here are the actresses whose names keep popping up :
Hailee Steinfeld [born in 1996] – rumored to be a front runner thanks to her performance in True Grit and her oscar nomination [although this is only an argument for adults, I don’t think teenagers care about an oscar nomination nor have seen True Grit]
Jennifer Lawrence [born in 1990] – lead actress in Winter’s Bone, independant film that got noticed this year in the festivals circuit and goth er an Oscar nomination as Best Actress [should I repeat myself ?]
The above actresses have proved they can act but there is the same uniqueness in Katniss that there is in Lisbeth Salander, and many great actresses who wanted the part for the Fincher remake were just not fit.
Now here is the fans first choice :
Of course, all this is pure speculation, so the BIG question remains: is Color Force aware of what the fans are going for, and is it something they take into account? Mistirious mystery señor Cheng.
Now let’s have a look at what’s happening in the UK :
In April 2011, HANNA, directed by Joe Wright tells the story of a 16 year-old murderer trained by her father in the woods. Even though a different story, we still have a teen girl involved in violent activities.
On the other hand, we have Skins –the scandalous show from the UK for teenagers and about teenagers who came on American MTV a month ago. Part of the show’s forte is it’s absolute synch with its fan base.
Here is the update on their blog from February 22nd.So, we’re half-way done already – I know, time flies, right? And we’ve already had lots of hook-ups, potential ships and sexual tension… but we all want more! Who? Look at our gallery of relationships and potential hook ups thus far… here it is. We want to know who you’re backing, who you ship, who you want to split, who you think will last the distance etc etc. Get commenting, get prediciting – we love hearing what you think, you know? It’s really nice.
That’s right : they ask their fans mid-way through a season what they think and hope to see happening to the characters. At first, the writer/director rejected the idea, but when I stopped and thought about it, this is probably the healthiest and more respectful way to make people feel part of something, take the temperature and hit it right. Ultimately the Skins’ team will do whatever they feel like doing but they are giving a voice to their audience and I’m sure this makes a huge difference to the fans.
In conclusion : Although The Hunger Games is a great book, selling teenagers killing each other onscreen might be tricky. It will be distributed by Lionsgate that, I’m sure, will put a very nice P&A budget. But given the expectations of fans are so high and similar movies are coming along, it wouldn’t hurt to start a ‘conversation’ with them right now.