Found this interesting article by Andrew O’Hehir for Salon.com concerning the various “influences”, both literary and in movies, to the very popular young adult novel (and soon to be movie) The Hunger Games:
When I first heard about The Hunger Games from my youngest daughter (she’s a big fan), my immediate reaction was similar to the one stated early in Mr. O’Hehir’s article: Boy, this story sure sounds a lot like Battle Royale. I realized, perhaps like Mr. O’Hehir, that there were plenty of other influences, from The Most Dangerous Game to (yes) The Running Man (both the film and the Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman novel).
So while The Hunger Games may not be one of the more original literary concepts, its success is unquestionable. As I write this, the upcoming release of the movie appears to be a sure fire hit, perhaps on the level of other young adult lit films such as the Harry Potter and Twilight movies.
But, I also wonder, why has The Hunger Games succeeded as well as it has? Why, for example, does Battle Royale remain a “cult” film/book while this work looks to be the next big thing?
Once again one realizes just how astute legendary writer/screenwriter William Goldman was when he said this about movie making: Nobody knows anything.
John Carter, a big budgeted adventure film audiences seem to enjoy (Rottentomatoes.com has the film scoring a pretty high 72% among audiences with a more mediocre 50% among critics), looks to be a bust. In other times, the ingredients present in this film looked to make it a sure fire hit: Big budget, big effects, action, suspense…And, based on the audience reaction, it appeared the film delivered.
And yet…for whatever reason, it didn’t connect as well as it might have. Why? Was the film a victim of its release date? Are audiences, perhaps, exhausted by the “big budget special effects” extravaganzas? Is it possible Disney’s marketing department failed to “sell” the film to audiences? Or was the audience reaction cooler than what Rottentomatoes.com has us believe, and those who saw the film may well have “liked” it, but they didn’t really “love” it, at least enough to recommend it to friends?
And returning to The Hunger Games, in a market saturated with young adult adventure books, why has this book, derivative or not, scored so big when so many others fade away? For that matter, why did Harry Potter and Twilight become such big hits before it?
I suppose the lesson is this: You work hard, you create your works, then you hope that they succeed. However, there are no guarantees. You could create the next Hunger Games. You could create the next John Carter.
Nobody knows anything.