There Will Be Prequels

We knew that Lionsgate was going to do various things to keep the Hunger Games brand alive, from the stage show, to theme parks, and potentially prequels or sequels. Today they confirmed the prequel route during a presentation.

The world of Panem is intriguing, and we’ve been open to world expansion in ways that make sense and respect the themes of the source material. So we were dismayed when we saw this quote from the Vice Chairman of Lionsgate in The Hollywood Reporter piece.

“The one thing that kids say they missed (from the early Hunger Games films) was there was no arenas,” he said, referencing the stadiums where children killed each other and noting the prior films only covered the 74th and 75th competitions. “If we went backwards there obviously would be arenas.”

Kids these days love their arenas. Big money in the arenas!  MORE ARENAS!

FIN04_HG_Victors_1Sht_Porter1

Was this actually a hint to what we’ll see in THG prequels?

Ok, from a business perspective, we understand what he’s saying. We also don’t doubt that they’ve done some research where some “kids” say they missed the GAMES part of Hunger Games. Violence sells. The first two movies had much better box office than the later 2, and the presence of the simple put-24-in-an-arena-to-kill-each-other structure was easier for general audiences to understand than more complex propaganda and consequences of war themes. But there were many more reasons why the first two movies did better. The fast pace of the 4 movies’ release and the book split played a part in the Mockingjay movies box office decline. Another big factor was the massive dip in resources put into marketing the final two films. The reason was not as simple as “no arena” (even though MJ2 has an arena, THE CAPITOL).

Overall, it’s such a cynical thing to say. And so contrary to the themes of the books (and movies!). We’re cool with you keeping this world alive and creatively vibrant but please tell us that’s not really how you’re approaching these prequels. We respect Lionsgate for allowing the creative team to make the Mockingjay movies as true to the book’s themes as they were. Maybe they didn’t make as much money as the first two, but the answer is not to just repeat the same formula from the first two movies. Just as the lack or arenas was not the sole reason for the lower box office of the Mockingjay movies, the presence of arenas was definitely not the only thing in THG and Catching Fire’s favor. It had great characters, story, and relevance to our lives. THAT was the brilliance behind it.  THAT is the bigger reason for the success.

With these prequels, at least put a creative team in place that sees beyond the bread and circuses path to easy money. Please tell us great stories that stay true to the themes that brought us to this world in the first place. If you do that, there’s a chance for these prequels. If you don’t, you’ll just destroy the legacy of the movies while diminishing this brand that is currently so valuable.

Tread carefully, and thoughtfully, and just maybe the odds will be in your favor.

JJ

 

 

 

Advertisements

4 comments

  1. I agree though unfortunately I’m not very optimistic about where the “Expanded Universe” will wind up. The only “prequel” possibility I see as promising is Haymitch’s Games, as that will expand on the backstories of many players in the original series, and doesn’t really glamorize the Games much as it turns out Haymitch paid a heavy price for his “victory”.

    Also, such a prequel could satisfy some book fans by showing more book canon than the original trilogy was able to do. The story about Madge’s family certainly could be retconned into the existing movie canon. There’s fodder for romance and love triangles as well, the canon one involving Katniss’s parents + Peeta’s dad, and while there was never any actual love triangle between Maysilee, Haymitch, and his Seam girlfriend, there’s certainly enough material to at least make for some suggestive movie promos.

    I think some of the Games experiences of characters such as Finnick might also be interesting to watch, but I don’t know if there’s enough canon to really make for a legitimate full length movie.

    Also, it seems that usually, as a franchise grows old in years, the original directors, producers, etc slowly drift away, even George Lucas eventually sold out to Disney and apparently wasn’t involved in the Star Wars sequel trilogy at all — though in his case, one can argue his involvement in the prequel trilogy was not for the best either.

    I can think of a whole lot of other movies or movie series that eventually went off the rails with sequels and expansions of the source material, that just didn’t measure up to the original – the Rocky movies (to the point where even Stallone agreed the way the original series “ended” was ridiculous). Or the Psycho movies — the movie sequels themselves got rather silly and outlandish, and the “Bates Motel” TV show, at least to me, takes away from Norman’s unique issues by having him grow up in a town where pretty much EVERYONE is a homicidal maniac.

    So even though the current crew I think did pretty well, that doesn’t mean they’ll always be running things. The first prequel, or two, might be decent and within the spirit of the original series. But not sure what will happen down the road.

  2. I want to feel excited, and cautiously optimistic. WITH Suzanne, Nina, Francis/Gary, & the cast/crew, they’ve given us…masterpieces, pretty much. This is such a rich world and cast of characters to explore, ripe with so much potential for sequel & prequel material. The trick is maintaining (or even, if possible, increasing?) the established level of quality, and never selling out. I agree with all of the interviewed cast & crew members so far that the content of additional installments need to come from or be blessed by Collins. Ideally they’ll involve as many of the same key people as they can. Certainly many other franchises have gotten out of hand when allowed to pass from one person to another, getting too many hands on them with too much variance in those people’s vision and respect for the canon, the original heart of the creation. I THINK, and hope, that THG is a breed apart…something so really, truly special that all those with a passion for it right now will keep that passion burning for decades to come, and not permit it to be sabotaged in the name of the almighty dollar. This needs to be kept under control by people who genuinely love it and want to preserve its integrity–not people who primarily regard it as a major profit source.
    I love the idea of being able to work in more aspects of the text that had to be cut for the films due to the time constraint.

    I’ve been thinking for months about this inevitable expansion, and so many ideas came to me that it nearly became overwhelming: Where and on whom should the focus be? Where to begin? How to divide it up? Which format(s) would work best? Feature film, episodic series, short films & stories, graphic novels–even animation or illustration? “Prequel” could cover anything historical, anything leading up to the 74th Games…from the fall of the USA & Canada to the rise and evolution of Panem…to the first attempt at revolution/the Dark Days, the establishment of the Games, the various notable years and Victors (especially Haymitch…and Finnick, Johanna…), Snow’s & Coin’s ascents to power, etc. And what about a documentary-style approach, as opposed to narrative?
    There’s backstory and POV to be gleaned from everybody who’s not Katniss. There’s the matter of what the heck’s going on with the rest of the world. There’s the future and the “next generation,” which may not contain more huge bouts of epic action and conflict on the same scales, but is of interest purely due to our love for the characters and our insatiable curiosity about the world…and desire for more of it, in some form or other.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s