'The Hunger Games': Taking the book world (and Hollywood) by storm

hunger-gamesMove over, Bella Swan. Katniss Everdeen is the new tween It Girl. The tough-as-nails teenage heroine of Suzanne Collins’  best-selling trilogy The Hunger Games already has her own Facebook page and Wikipedia profile. This summer, Mockingjay, the third and final book, moved more than 450,000 copies in its first week. “Book 3 was the breakthrough book for Harry Potter and Twilight, too,” says HG editor David Levithan, Scholastic’s executive editorial director. “We’re hitting right on schedule.”

The Hunger Games takes place in a bleak, postapocalyptic world where, every year, 24 children are randomly selected and forced to battle to the death on television. And while the saga — which kicks off when Katniss volunteers for the bloodfest in order to save her sister — hasn’t yet reached the cultural saturation of Stephenie Meyer’s megahit, comparisons are inevitable: Both are addictively readable young-adult series about a female teen in a complicated love triangle. But the similarities end there. HG is more thoughtful and much, much darker. The books (which hide a compelling antiwar message behind the veneer of a tween thriller) are exceptionally well written and expertly paced, with near-constant suspense. And unlike Twilight‘s passive, angsty Bella, Katniss is a self-possessed young woman who demonstrates equal parts compassion and fearlessness.

With a protagonist as appealing as Ms. Everdeen, it’s no surprise Hollywood has come courting. Besides, with both the Harry Potter series and 
The Twilight Saga winding down, the studios desperately need a new young-skewing franchise with a rabid fan base. Luckily for Lionsgate, it optioned the Hunger series back in March 2009. Veteran scribe Billy Ray (Shattered Glass) recently turned in a draft, and director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) is in negotiations for the first film. If all goes well, the studio hopes to be in production by next spring.

But despite its vividly cinematic language, The Hunger Games won’t be easy to adapt. EW has seen an early copy of the script, which includes a note-by-note retelling of the Games. How can the studio show brutal kid-on-kid violence and still pull off a PG-13 rating? “It’s always going to be an intense subject matter, but you can tell the story with some restraint,” says producer Nina Jacobson, who praises the books for appealing to both girls and boys. “The only people these books are not for are those under 12. The movie will be the same.”

Additional reporting by Keith Staskiewicz.

More ‘Hunger Games':
‘Hunger Games': Cast the movie!
‘The Hunger Games': Book review by  Stephen King
‘Hunger Games’ = ‘Twilight’? No!
‘Hunger Games’ author Suzanne Collins: EW book quiz

Comments (54 total) Add your comment
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  • Dusty

    I for one would like to see it rated R and show all the gory details. I doubt that will happen but maybe a PG-13 that doesn’t cut away from the deaths?

    • matt

      indeed i concure.. i bet they’ll dim down everii aspect of itt..just soo itt can be presentable to tha young lads. and still make box office history.. imm hlf waa through mockingjay, and honestlii imm dreading the conclusion. . being that all il have to satisfy mii (hunger) will be tha movie and to be perfectlii honest wit u imm excited,, but imm anticipating a great failure… R.I.P-RUE-

  • Annie

    Omg this will be so cool if it is a movie.
    Though I believe the Harry Potter Series is the best. Sorry H.G.
    I still love you, except Mocking Jay b/c I didnt like the ending, aha but the first two were great !
    Hoorays !
    But Harry Potter will never move ovaaaah !

    • Celia

      Same here. Harry Potter is too good to move over. It’s a classic.
      I don’t know if the Hunger Games is classics material, but it’s a great/imaginative series. I just wish EW would stop indirectly comparing it to twilight. The two series are nothing alike and Hunger Games doesn’t deserve that association. The author did something completely new and quite intriguing. The writing isn’t perfect (far from it), but the story is wonderful. Although, I also wasn’t a fan of the last book. I wish she had just written four books instead of rushing the ending so much or at least made book 3 longer.

      • Haydon

        celia is this you lol love ya sweet pea

      • emmy

        the reason why mockingjay was rushed towards the end was because each of the books have three sections, and each section had 9 chapters

    • Bridget

      I agree that there should have been 4 books. The ending was sooo rushed and thats why I wasn’t as good as the first two. I also think that they need to STOP comparing it to Twilight because they are totaly different. just because they both star girls doesn’t mean they are the same.

      • Ryan Forsyth

        You are right. They cant be compared! And Twilight is also so much awesomer!

  • Ellie

    I hope they get some good actors to play these roles! Loved this series!

  • nodnarb

    When I was reading them, every 15 pages or so I actually said out loud, “Sweet Zombie Jesus! This is YOUNG ADULT?”

    • Di

      Seriously, right? I don’t know if I just never read YA when I was that age (I kind of skipped straight from The Babysitter’s Club to Lord of the Rings) or if they’ve changed drastically since I was younger, but nowadays YA novels are totally disturbing! I felt the same way when I read The Vampire Diaries (which I didn’t really enjoy). It’s crazy!

      • Kathleen

        If you thought that was surprising for a YA book, try the Vampire Academy series. Holy moly! They did not write those like that when I was a teen. A fantastic series though.

      • Lisa

        I LOVE vampire academy.
        A little risque with the language and sex… but still great, nonetheless.

  • Kate

    Excellent! I was a little disappointed in the third book, but overall, a worthy trilogy. Not on Potter’s level at all (what is, really), but far better written and with better characters than Twilight. I’m excited to see who plays Katniss. If it’s still a year or two off in the making, Chloe Moretz could grow into it easily.

    • Allison

      Alas, nothing really can beat Potter :) but still good series. WAY better then twilight.
      Twilight is just terrible.

  • John

    Yeah, I think the PG13 rating is going to be to restricting on the film. The main message of the book is how horrid the games are. You are meant to be disgusted with the violence so I think taking that away will leave the movie wanting.

    • Celia

      Filmmakers are pushing the PG-13 limits these days. There are quite a few PG-13 films that could have received an R rating. As long as Hunger Games isn’t marketed as a childrens book, then the content (which is pretty disturbing) shouldn’t be altered too much.

  • Robyn

    I wish this was not a movie, book revolves around a Television world, it is too dense for a movie. I wish that Lionsgate had decided to serialize the books into a mini-series or television show shown over a full or half season. I mean it would be guaranteed ratings, put it on at 9pm or 10pm and you have a hit serial show that is engaging, and you can develop it in a lot of exciting ways that delve deeper into the Capital and the conspiracys and story than what you could do in 2 hours on screen. The book is too dense for a movie.
    Put it on Cable, or HBO, Showtime or Stars and then you can get away with things you could not even do in a PG-13 film.

    • Patty Mellark

      good idea.

    • elcamino

      With the possible merger of Lionsgate with MGM. MGM has a distribution agreement with NBC. Thats owned by Comcast now so I think there could well be a HG adapted series on cable or TV.

      • Robyn

        Well NBC could use anything that will give it some blockbuster ratings. If they could make this an event it could be something that actually gave NBC a spot on the top 40 shows, instead of the top 75.

  • angelaf

    Actually, I haven’t read this series, but I started the alian series that starts with the book ‘I am Number Four’ which I was very surprised I like it and can’t wait for the movie to come out in February. Now, if they can only get the next book out by next year!

  • Billy

    I absolutely fell inlove with the HG, and I really hope they don’t hold anything back. After reading them, it was all I could think about and it did have a deep effect on me, and I’m hoping for the same reaction after the movie.

  • Tayler

    I, for one, am glad that they’re making Hunger Games into a movie. As for Mockingjay, it was my favorite book out of the three. I just can’t understand why no one likes it. Can you enlighten me on this?

    • sophie

      Some people thought it was very slow-paced, and didn’t have much action. And then also many people hated the ending, as they thought it was too rushed.
      Personally, I liked the book on the whole, but yes, I didn’t feel the ending did justice to the trilogy. But then again, how else could it have ended?

  • shannon

    I loved all 3 books!! when I was reading them I could not put them down!! Thats all I did for days was read all 3 books!!!

    • elcamino

      Such as what happened to Gale. I suppose he married Delly. Same as Johanna?

  • Krista

    I personally adored Mockingjay, though I think maybe why people didn’t like it was that the ending felt a bit rushed. I get really upset when people compare the Hunger Games to Twilight… the stories and the characters are so different that it is, quite frankly, an insult to compare them. Sometimes I feel that EW compares them because they are two popular series that both have female protagonists. That is basically where their similarities end. Seriously? STOP.

  • m1

    I literally just finished the second book today! The ending was a little confusing, but it was very good. Now I need to get my hands on Mockingjay.

  • lala44

    HG was great ..but after that I had a hard time reading the next 2 Books and the End was just not exiting…

  • Vivian

    I love HG and I hope they make it an awesome movie!! I kinda want the movie to be 14A or something like that, so the movie can be a little more gory but not a complete gorefest. I love Twilight, but I get mad when people compare it to the Hunger Games when they’re nothing alike!!

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