• Directed by Gary Ross
• A co-production from Nina Jacobson’s Color
Force and Lionsgate
• Color Force: acquired the worldwide rights to
the novel for a reported $200,000
• Based on The Hunger Games by
• Distributed by Lionsgate
A Ready Made Fan Base!
• A built-in fan base for “The Hunger Games”
certainly helps its prospects. More than 24
million copies of “The Hunger Games” trilogy
are in print in the United States alone.
• Along the way the studio had to navigate some
unusually large pitfalls, chief among them the
film’s tricky subject matter of children killing
children for a futuristic society’s televised
• The trilogy of novels, written by Suzanne Collins,
is critical of violence as entertainment, not an
easy line for a movie marketer to walk, even
though the movie itself is quite tame in its
depiction of killing.
To avoid criticism of a film featuring kids
killing kids, the trailer didn't show the
games at all and focussed on the build
up to them. This created an enigma
code (what would the games actually be
like?) which encouraged audiences to
see the film out of curiosity
• The Lionsgate team, including Nina Jacobson,
a producer, and Joe Drake, then the studio’s
top movie executive, started debating how to
handle the movie’s subject.
• The usual move would have been to exploit
imagery from the games in TV commercials.
How else would men in particular get excited
about the movie? But Mr. Palen was worried.
• This book is on junior high reading lists, but kids
killing kids, even though it’s handled delicately in
the film, is a potential perception problem in
marketing,” he said.
• One morning, he floated a radical idea: what
about never showing the games at all in the
campaign? Some team members were
incredulous; after all, combat scenes make up
more than half the movie. “There was a lot of,
‘You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t see how we can
manage that,’ ” Mr. Palen recalled.
Box Office Success
• When the film released, it set records for the opening day
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 place at the
American box office for four consecutive weekends.
• The movie was a massive box-office success by grossing
approx $677 million worldwide against its budget of $80
million, making it the third highest grossing film in the
United States in 2012.
• The film was a success before it was officially
• On February 22, 2012, The Hunger Games broke
the record for first-day advance ticket sales on
Fandango, topping the previous record of Eclipse
(Twilight). The sales were reported to be
83 percent of the site's totals for the day
• The film sold out in over 4,300 showings across
the United States.
• The Hunger Games is what studios call a
• The term refers to a film that the studio
expects to “prop up” the studio for that year.
• In other words, they think it’s going to make a
lot of money!
• For Lionsgate – “The Hunger Games”
• For Summit Entertainment – “Twilight”
• Lionsgate’s marketing staff = 21 people
• Budget of about $45 million.
• Bigger studios routinely spend $100 million
marketing major releases, and have worldwide
marketing and publicity staffs of over 100 people.
• The studio has been able to spend so little largely
because Mr. Palen has relied on inexpensive
digital initiatives to whip up excitement.
• Early promotion for “The Hunger Games”
started in spring 2009, when Mr. Palen flew to
New York to meet with publicity executives
from Scholastic to learn about the book
• While some studios have halted once-standard
marketing steps like newspaper ads, Lionsgate used all
the usual old-media tricks — giving away 80,000
posters, securing almost 50 magazine cover stories,
advertising on 3,000 billboards and bus shelters.
Online Marketing Campaign
• However, the campaign’s centrepiece has been a
phased, yearlong digital effort built around the
content platforms cherished by young audiences:
• Near-constant use of Facebook and Twitter,
• A YouTube channel,
• A Tumblr blog,
• iPhone games
• Live Yahoo streaming from the premiere.
Online Marketing Campaign
• May 2011 -the Lionsgate
information about the
casting of the film via
Facebook and Twitter.
Online Marketing Campaign
• Twitter became an integral part of the
marketing campaign for “The Hunger Games”
• Fans anticipating the film could actively
engage with Lionsgate via social networking.
• It was an easy way for fans to be constantly
updated on the progress of the film and thus
build momentum for the release of the film.
• In July 2011 the first official poster was
released via Facebook
• Later the same month the first look at
photographs of the cast on set were released
• Early in August the official release date for the
second film “Catching Fire” was released
July 2011 – Comic Con
• They had a stand at
• Gave out copies of a
new poster to fans
• In August 2011 came a one-minute sneak
peek, introduced online at MTV.com. People
liked it but complained — loudly — that it
wasn’t enough. “We weren’t prepared for that
level of we-demand-more pushback,” Mr.
The footage did include a Twitter prompt through which fans
could discover a Web site for the movie, TheCapitol.pn.
• The Capitol is where
the Hunger Games take
place. The site allowed
visitors to make digital
ID cards as if they lived
in Panem, the movie’s
futuristic society; more
than 800,000 people
have created them.
• October included
stunt, this time
meant to allow
those ID makers to
campaign online to
be elected mayor of
various districts of
• November ‘11 marked the iTunes release of
the main trailer, which received eight million
views in its first 24 hours.
• Again, Twitter was used to build up hype prior
to the release.
• In January 2012,
featured the main
characters of the
Online Twitter Puzzle
• On Dec. 15, 100 days before the movie’s release,
the studio created a new poster and cut it into
100 puzzle pieces.
• It then gave digital versions of those pieces to 100
Web sites and asked them to post their puzzle
piece on Twitter in lockstep.
• Fans had to search Twitter to put together the
poster, either by printing out the pieces and
cutting them out or using a program like
• A 100-piece
• “The Hunger
• “It was a silly
little stunt, but it
worked — bam,”
Mr. Palen said.
• A lavish Tumblr
dedicated to the
• “The Hunger Games
released on the
same day as the film
and took the form of
a social networking
• Capitol TV arrived in February 2012
• A YouTube channel designed to look like the
official network of “Panem”.
• It combined sneak previews of film footage
and user-generated “Hunger Games” videos
• “You’ve got to constantly give people something new
to get excited about, but we also had another goal in
mind,” Ms. DePalma said. “How do we best sustain
online interest until the DVD comes out?”
• Lionsgate joined Scribd, Donorschoose.Org, and Scholastic, for The
Hunger Games national literacy month campaign
• Throughout the month of September, any fan that read The
Hunger Games in the Scribd social reader application was entered
in “Read a Chapter, Win a Library” for a chance to win a classroom
library of books for one of the public schools served by
From left, Julie Fontaine, Tim Palen and Danielle DePalma, the movie's
The art lies in allowing fans to feel as if they are discovering a film, but
in truth Hollywood’s new promotional paradigm involves a digital hard
sell in which little is left to chance — as becomes apparent in a rare
step-by-step tour through the timetable and techniques used by
Lionsgate to assure that “The Hunger Games” becomes a box office
the arrival of the Hunger
Games Katniss Everdeen clone
by Mattel - controversy =
replicating the character as a
Barbie doll feels at odds with
the very essence of the
The Super Bowl
• Lions gate revealed a new trailer for the film at
Americans Super Bowl in February 2012.
• The Super Bowl is the annual championship
game of the National Football League (NFL)
and is a huge event in America’s calendar
• The single Safe and Sound by
Taylor Swift (played on the
film’s credits) reached number
one on the iTunes charts soon
after its release on 26th Dec
2011 - gaining publicity for the
film (as well as revenue).
• One important online component involved a
sweepstakes to bring five fans to the movie’s
North Carolina set.
• Notably, Lionsgate invited no reporters: The
studio did not want consumers thinking this was
another instance of Hollywood trying to force-
feed them a movie through professional filters.
“People used to be O.K. with studios telling them
what to like,” Ms. DePalma said. “Not anymore.
Now it’s, ‘You don’t tell us, we tell you.’ ”
• Throughout March
members of the
cast toured “malls”
• They assigned one team member to cultivate
“Hunger Games” fan blogs.
• Danielle DePalma, senior vice president for digital
marketing, drafted a chronology for the entire
online effort, using spreadsheets (coded in 12
colours) that detailed what would be introduced
on a day-by-day, and even minute-by-minute,
basis over months.
• “Nov. 17: Facebook posts — photos, Yahoo brand
page goes live.”)
Skyfall: Sony Pictures
• Olympics opening ceremony
• Heineken ad (synergy)
• Visit Britain campaign
• Coke Zero viral campaign
• Adele song (synergy)
• Train ads
The Hunger Games: Lionsgate
• Magazine covers
• Twitter – including treasure
• The film was released in the US on 21st March
2012 in both conventional cinemas and digital
• It was subsequently released in 23rd March in
DVD release dates:
• US DVD release date 18th August 2012
• UK DVD release date: 3rd Sept 2012
• Film ratings are decided in the UK by the BBFC (British Board of Film
Classification). The studio were eager for the film to receive a 12A rating
(rather than a rating of 15) in order to maximise their ticket sales to the
key 12-15 demographic. Children of this age-range would also attend the
cinemas in groups or with their parents - which would enable higher ticket
• However, the BBFC recommended a number of cuts to be made in order
for the film to receive this rating. Seconds had to be cut from the film and
blood splatter had to be digitally removed to enable the film to achieve a
12 rating for "intense threat, moderate violence and occasional gory
• This demonstrates the stricter policy of British film censors, as the film in
the US received a PG-13 rating for "intense violent thematic material and
disturbing images – all involving teens". However, no cuts had to be
• Although the film was successful globally, thanks to the genre's overseas
appeal and the successful digital/viral campaign, it wasn't accepted in all
• The film was banned in Vietnam, for instance, because of its "extreme
violence" and "killing".
• The franchise already had an established fanbase - as the
book had been a previous bestseller.
• The film did very well at the box office - hauling a
worldwide gross of: $677,923,379 (the majority of this
coming from North America). It made the largest
worldwide opening weekend for a film not released
during a holiday period. This was helped by the fact that
most cinema goers are between 17 and 24 years of age -
who would be most likely to engage with the youthful
characters in the film.
The strong female action lead (who was also attractive) also made
this popular with both genders.
The film's viral marketing also targeted the primary teenage
The film's focus on action to tell the narrative made it appealing to
a mainstream audience, but the film's allegorical structure also
appeals to a literary and educated audience.
A wide range of genres were referenced in the marketing posters
to appeal to a wide audience.
The film's trailer constructed a dramatic narrative, that appealed to
audiences who wanted to escape (or find diversion) into an
entertaining story (Uses and Gratifications). It also offered a sense
of energy that people may lack in their lives (Richard Dyer).
• Because the narrative follows many of Propp's spheres of action,
the audience are positioned to think of certain characters as 'good'
and others as 'evil'. These notions are constructed in a variety of
• For instance, we support Katniss from the start as the opening
scene sees her reassure her sister after a bad dream - she sings as
she falls back to sleep, presenting her as maternal, caring and
• The audience is also encouraged to sympathise with her, as she
walks through District 12, as we are shown many quick shots of
people living in abject poverty.
• She is then confirmed as a protagonist as we follow her on a hunt -
something which she seems very confident with - positioning the
audience to think of her as strong, independent and resourceful.
The audience is further positioned to think of the people in District 12 as
victims in the 'reaping' scene (where the names of the contestants are picked).
The people march in silence towards the stage, heightening the sense of doom.
The reaping is filmed to resemble the organisation of Jews at a German WWII
death camp - where people are sorted by gender and age. The pale, traditional
clothing is also reminiscent of that era and connotes that the people are
'washed out' and afraid.
In contrast, the audience is encouraged to view the rulers of the Districts - the
Capitol -negatively. The first real sign of them is the hoverplane which flies
over Gale and Katniss in the woods. Threatening non-diegetic music
(accompanied by invasive diegetic engine noise) positions us to think of it as
negative. This is further confirmed by the high-angle shot which sees Gale lead
Katniss to cover (both of their faces worried and concerned). We see that the
Capitol can strike fear into even confident and assertive characters and
therefore positions us to think of them as controlling and powerful.
When Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol, the audience is positioned to
view people with wealth negatively, as scenes of over-the-top-fashion and
wealth work as a binary opposite (contrast) to the poverty in District 12 - a
reference, perhaps, to the wealth divide between rich and poor nations in the
world. The fact that in nearly all the shots, the people in the Capitol either
look happy or superiorly confident (with heads held high) furthers the idea
that their life of luxury is at the expense of others.
We are also positioned to find the Gamemakers villainous - the head
gamemaker - Seneca Crane is given angular facial hair and accentuated
eyebrows - which makes him look fierce and almost devil-like.
President Snow's stony face makes him seem threatening. We are also
positioned to distrust him as his narrative for the propaganda film advertising
the Hunger Games displays a warped moral code (he finds it honourable to let
children fight to the death).
In the games, themselves, Cato is constructed as a villain. We see
him laugh at others' weakness, bully fellow tributes. He smiles
when standing over a girl, who his group is about to murder to
symbolise that he enjoys the killing (which is furthered by the idea
that he volunteered for the games as a 'career tribute'). His bulky
physique also gives him an unfair advantage over others - which is
most shockingly displayed when he quickly breaks a boy's neck for
failing to protect their stash of supplies.
• Although the audience is positioned to feel sympathy for Katniss, as well as
the plight of black characters in the film, some audience reactions have been
quite different - with some comments suggesting underlying racism or
• For one - there have been debates about body image: A number of critics
expressed disappointment in Jennifer Lawrence's casting as Katniss because
her weight was not representative of a character who has suffered a life of
starvation. Manohla Dargis, in her review of the film for The New York
Times stated "[a] few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry
enough to play Katniss, but now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a
bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission." Todd
McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said that in certain scenes, Lawrence
displays "lingering baby fat." These remarks have been rebuked by a number
of journalists for pushing unrealistic body image expectations for women. L.V.
Anderson of Slate states that "[j]ust as living in a world with abundant calories
does not automatically make everyone fat, living in a dystopian world like
Panem with sporadic food access would not automatically make everyone
skinny. Some bodies, I daresay, would be even bigger than Lawrence's." Since
none of Lawrence's male co-stars have come under the same scrutiny,
Anderson concludes complaints about Lawrence's weight are inherently
However, MTV asked for responses from audiences on the
controversy and reported that most found criticism of Lawrence's
weight "misguided." One response pointed to Collins' physical
description of Katniss in The Hunger Games novel which reads "I
stand straight, and while I'm thin, I'm strong. The meat and plants
from the woods combined with the exertion it took to get them have
given me a healthier body than most of those I see around me." Los
Angeles Times writer Alexandra Le Tellier commented that "[t]he
sexist commentary along with the racist barbs made by so-called
fans are as stomach-churning as the film's cultural commentary,
which, in part, shines a light on the court of public opinion and its
sometimes destructive power to determine someone else's fate."
Similarly offensive comments have also been made about the casting of black actors in
the film. In a Jezebel article published March 26, 2012, Dodai Stewart reported that
several users on Twitter posted racist tweets, criticizing the portrayals of Rue, Thresh
and Cinna by African American actors. In a 2011 interview with Entertainment
Weekly, Collins stated that while she did not have any ethnic background in mind for
lead characters Katniss and Gale because the book is written in "a time period where
hundreds of years have passed" and there would be "a lot of ethnic mixing", she
explains "there are some characters in the book who are more specifically
described", and states that both Rue and Thresh are African American. Lyneka Little
of The Wall Street Journal states that although it is easy to find bigoted or offensive
postings online, "the racist 'Hunger Games' tweets, because they are so shockingly
ignorant even by the standards of the fringes of the internet, have kicked up a storm."
Fahima Haque of The Washington Post, Bim Adewunmi of The Guardian, and
Christopher Rosen of The Huffington Post all reiterate the fact that Rue and Thresh are
described in The Hunger Games as having dark brown skin, as well as Collins' assertion
that they were intended to be depicted as African Americans. Adewunmi remarked
that "it comes to this: if the casting of Rue, Thresh and Cinna has left you bewildered
and upset, consider two things. One: you may be a racist – congrats! Two: you
definitely lack basic reading comprehension. Mazel tov!"
In the viral marketing campaign behind The Hunger Games, the
audiences took an active role. As well as spreading clues for the
Twitter treasure hunt, fans were able to sign up to become
official citizens of Panem.
Some audiences have also taken an active role in parodying the
film online. YouTube videos such as "How it should have ended"
highlight criticisms of the film, including highlighting plot holes
The Hungover Games has since become a reasonably
successfully parody film.