Directed by Gary Ross Produced by Nina Jacobson Based on The Hunger Games bySuzanne Collins A co-production from Lionsgate and ColorForce Distributed by Lionsgate
When the film released, it set records for the openingday and opening weekend for a non-sequel Opening day - $67.3 million Opening weekend $152.5 It is the first film since Avatar to remain in first placeat the American box office for four consecutiveweekends. The movie was a massive box-office success bygrossing $685 million worldwide against its budget of$78 million, making it the third highest grossing film inthe United State in 2012.
The film was a success before it was officiallyreleased. On February 22, 2012, The Hunger Gamesbroke the record for first-day advance ticketsales on Fandango, topping the previousrecord of Eclipse (Twilight).The sales werereported to be 83 percent of the sites totalsfor the day The film sold out in over 4,300 showingsacross the United States.
The Hunger Games is what studios call a“tentpole release”. The term refers to a film that the studioexpects to “prop up” the studio for that year. In other words, they think it’s going to make alot of money! For Lionsgate – “The Hunger Games” For Summit Entertainment – “Twilight”
Lionsgate has generated this high level ofinterest with a marketing staff of 21 peopleworking with a relatively tiny budget of about$45 million. Bigger studios routinely spend $100 millionmarketing major releases, and have worldwidemarketing and publicity staffs of over 100people. The studio has been able to spend so littlelargely because Mr. Palen has relied oninexpensive digital initiatives to whip upexcitement.
Early promotion for “The Hunger Games”started in spring 2009, when Mr. Palen flew toNewYork to meet with publicity executivesfrom Scholastic to learn about the bookfranchise.
While some studios have halted once-standardmarketing steps like newspaper ads, Lionsgate usedall the usual old-media tricks — giving away 80,000posters, securing almost 50 magazine cover stories,advertising on 3,000 billboards and bus shelters.
However, the campaign’s centrepiece hasbeen a phased, yearlong digital effort builtaround the content platforms cherished byyoung audiences: Near-constant use of Facebook andTwitter, AYouTube channel, ATumblr blog, Iphone games LiveYahoo streaming from the premiere.
The campaign reallysprung into action inMay 2011 when theLionsgate team startedmethodically releasinginformation about thecasting of the film viaFacebook andTwitter.
Twitter became an integral part of themarketing campaign for “The Hunger Games” Fans anticipating the film could activelyengage with Lionsgate via social networking. It was an easy way for fans to be constantlyupdated on the progress of the film and thusbuild momentum for the release of the film.
In July 2011 the first official poster wasreleased via Facebook. Later the same month the first look atphotographs of the cast on set were releasedover twitter. Early in August the official release date forthe second film “Catching Fire” was released
They had a stand atComiccon Gave out copies of anew poster to fans
In August 2011 came a one-minute sneakpeek, introduced online at MTV.com. Peopleliked it but complained — loudly — that itwasn’t enough. “We weren’t prepared forthat level of we-demand-more pushback,”Mr. Palen said. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsVNNHs3RZE&feature=player_embedded
The footage did include aTwitter prompt through which fanscould discover aWeb site for the movie,TheCapitol.pn.
The Capitol is wherethe Hunger Gamestake place.The siteallowed visitors tomake digital ID cardsas if they lived inPanem, the movie’sfuturistic society; morethan 800,000 peoplehave created them.
October includedanotherTwitter stunt,this time meant toallow those ID makersto campaign online tobe elected mayor ofvarious districts ofPanem.
November ‘11 marked the iTunes release ofthe main trailer, which received eight millionviews in its first 24 hours. Again,Twitter was used to build up hype priorto the release.
In January 2012posters werereleased thatfeatured the maincharacters of thefilm.
On Dec. 15, 100 days before the movie’s release,the studio created a new poster and cut it into100 puzzle pieces. It then gave digital versions of those pieces to100Web sites and asked them to post theirpuzzle piece onTwitter in lockstep. Fans had to searchTwitter to put together theposter, either by printing out the pieces andcutting them out or using a program likePhotoshop.
A 100-pieceonline puzzle. “The HungerGames” trendedworldwide onTwitter withinminutes. “It was a sillylittle stunt, but itworked — bam,”Mr. Palen said.
A lavishTumblrblog calledCapitol Couturededicated tothe movie’suniquefashions.
“The Hunger GamesAdventures” wasreleased on thesame day as the filmand took the formof a socialnetworkingplatform
One important online component involved asweepstakes to bring five fans to the movie’sNorth Carolina set. Notably, Lionsgate invited no reporters:Thestudio did not want consumers thinking this wasanother instance of Hollywood trying to force-feed them a movie through professional filters.“People used to be O.K. with studios tellingthem what to like,” Ms. DePalma said. “Notanymore. Now it’s, ‘You don’t tell us, we tellyou.’ ”
CapitolTV arrived in February 2012 AYouTube channel designed to look like theofficial network of “Panem”. It combined sneak previews of film footageand user-generated “Hunger Games” videos
“You’ve got to constantly give people something newto get excited about, but we also had another goal inmind,” Ms. DePalma said. “How do we best sustainonline interest until the DVD comes out?”
Lions gate revealed a new trailer for the filmatAmericans Super Bowl in February 2012. The Super Bowl is the annual championshipgame of the National Football League (NFL)and is a huge event in America’s calendar
Throughout March2012 variousmembers of thecast toured “malls”(shopping centres)across America
Lionsgate joined Scribd, Donorschoose.Org, and Scholastic, forThe Hunger Games national literacy month campaign Throughout the month of September, any fan that read TheHunger Games in the Scribd social reader application was enteredin “Read a Chapter, Win a Library” for a chance to win aclassroom library of books for one of the public schools served byDonorsChoose.org.
From left, Julie Fontaine,Tim Palen and Danielle DePalma, the movies marketers. The art lies in allowing fans to feel as if they are discovering a film, but in truthHollywood’s new promotional paradigm involves a digital hard sell in which little isleft to chance — as becomes apparent in a rare step-by-step tour through thetimetable and techniques used by Lionsgate to assure that “The Hunger Games”becomes a box office phenomenon
Along the way the studio had to navigate someunusually large pitfalls, chief among them thefilm’s tricky subject matter of children killingchildren for a futuristic society’s televisedamusement. The trilogy of novels, written by SuzanneCollins, is critical of violence asentertainment, not an easy line for a moviemarketer to walk, even though the movie itself isquite tame in its depiction of killing.
“The beam for this movie is really narrow, andit’s a sheer drop to your death on either side,”said Mr. Palen, during an unusually candidtwo-hour presentation of his “HungerGames” strategy at the studio’s offices.
A built-in fan base for “The Hunger Games”certainly helps its prospects. More than 24million copies of “The Hunger Games” trilogyare in print in the United States alone.About9.6 million copies were in circulationdomestically when the movie’s marketingcampaign intensified last summer, soLionsgate’s efforts appear to have sold thebook as well as the movie.
They assigned one team member to cultivate“Hunger Games” fan blogs. Danielle DePalma, senior vice president fordigital marketing, drafted a chronology forthe entire online effort, using spreadsheets(coded in 12 colors) that detailed what wouldbe introduced on a day-by-day, and evenminute-by-minute, basis over months. “Nov. 17: Facebook posts — photos,Yahoobrand page goes live.”)
The film was released in March 2012 in bothconventional cinemas and digital IMAXcinemas.
Last summer, the Lionsgate team, includingNina Jacobson, a producer, and Joe Drake,then the studio’s top movie executive, starteddebating how to handle the movie’s subject. The usual move would have been to exploitimagery from the games inTV commercials.How else would men in particular get excitedabout the movie? But Mr. Palen was worried.
This book is on junior high reading lists, but kidskilling kids, even though it’s handled delicately inthe film, is a potential perception problem inmarketing,” he said. One morning, he floated a radical idea: whatabout never showing the games at all in thecampaign? Some team members wereincredulous; after all, combat scenes make upmore than half the movie. “There was a lot of,‘You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t see how we canmanage that,’ ” Mr. Palen recalled.
Eventually, he prevailed. “Everyone liked the implicationthat if you want to see the games you have to buy aticket,” he said. Boundaries were also establishedinvolving how to position plot developments; in the movie,24 children fight to the death until one wins, but “we madea rule that we would never say ‘23 kids get killed,’ ” Mr.Palen said. “We say ‘only one wins.’ ”The team also barredthe phrase “Let the games begin.” “This is not about glorifying competition; these kids arevictims,” Mr. Palen said. A few months later, when a majorentertainment magazine planned to use “Let the GamesBegin” as the headline on a “Hunger Games” cover, Ms.Fontaine, traveling in London, frantically worked hercellphone until editors agreed to change it.