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The Hunger Games’ Success And What It Means For Female Action Films


Although it’s based on a best-selling young adult novel, it’s safe to say the odds weren’t in The Hunger Games’ favor. True, the film was projected to do well at the box office but history likes to tell us female-led action films don’t sell. It’s often used as an excuse in Hollywood to not make those films. They can’t use that excuse anymore, Jennifer Lawrence helped The Hunger Games make a record $155 million this past weekend and she did it with all of her clothes on. 

Yesterday we told you Box Office Mojo was estimating that the film would make $155 million opening weekend but that was just an estimate. It actually did make that much which puts The Hunger Games in the history books as the biggest non-sequel U.S. debut for a film ever according to HitFlix.

Box Office Mojo says The Hunger Games “ranks third all-time behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($169.2 million) and The Dark Knight ($158.4 million).” This is really big news.

The Hunger Games managed to beat not just Batman but several other huge comic blockbusters as well like Spider-Man 3 and Iron Man 2, which are the next two highest grossing comic films after The Dark Knight. It also lies ahead of Twilight: New Moon which sits at number five on the biggest opening weekend films list. The film is also the bggest success for Lionsgate which is an independent studio currently merging with Twilight studio, Summit Entertainment. And the film remained strictly in 2D.

And guess what else? The film’s viewers were approximately 61% female and 56% were ages 25 and up according to Lionsgate. Those numbers themselves are an interesting indicator. It wasn’t just women going to see this film and it wasn’t just young girls who were the intended market for the original book.

The Hollywood Reporter writes, “Box office observers believe that Hunger Games, based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling dystopian young adult novel, could gross between $350 million and $400 million domestically based on its strength across all demos, including families, and particularly among tweens and teens, who are huge repeat moviegoers.”

But there’s an even more important lesson to take away from The Hunger Games success. Not only did a wide range of viewers head out to see an action film with a female lead, they saw a film with a female action lead who wasn’t sexualized to grab attention or play into the archaic view that a lead actress is only there for eye candy. I suppose you could thank Collins’ novel which created a character that was simply a normal girl or the fact that the writer had a heavy hand in production of the film but for once, Hollywood didn’t try to change the character to suit marketing norms. Twenty-one-year-old Lawrence’s costumes throughout the film are suited to the enviornment and no, her top doesn’t get strategically torn so you can see her midriff at any point. It’s refreshing.

Oddly enough, there’s been a rather alarming number of reviews for the film that reference Lawrence’s weight and looks. Slate has a roundup of a few:

“A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss,” writes the New York TimesManohla Dargis, “but now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy comments that Lawrence’s “lingering baby fat shows here.” And—most bluntly—Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells calls Lawrence a “fairly tall, big-boned lady” who’s “too big” for Josh Hutcherson, who plays Katniss’s romantic interest.

First of all, ugh. Second of all, you’re all terrible and wrong and these box office numbers prove it. So perhaps the lesson here is not just that a healthy, realistic looking actress can be a successful action star but that perhaps that’s what Hollywood should specifically be looking for in the future. Because it works and audiences will happily go see it. Like Bridesmaids, The Hunger Games broke the usual Hollywood mold and proved that women can drive a hit and they don’t need to be half-dressed. They also don’t have to be chasing after a boy. Katniss has two men in her life, sure, but they aren’t her primary concern, unlike Bella from Twilight.

The success of The Hunger Games is officially paving the way for other female-led action films, whether they’re comic book characters or not, to be greenlit in Hollywood. I’m sure some will still take this the wrong way and try to translate the box office numbers of The Hunger Games by putting a similar character out there who’s the usual bombshell actress or that exceptions will be made by critics for why this particular film was a success but others wouldn’t be but executives look for proven success and precedent and it’s staring them in the face now. We haven’t had a female action star like this for a while. Let’s hope they don’t ignore it.

Previously in The Hunger Games

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  • http://chocolateandcreamcake.blogspot.com Mandy Curtis

    This has me thinking wishfully that a Mass Effect movie could be made with a FemShep lead.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Oh god that would be AWESOME.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Honestly, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, but Jennifer Lawrence’s weight bothered me too. In the book, Katniss frequently mentions how thin she is because she has so little to eat and it just didn’t come across that way. My friends who hadn’t read the book just said “Oh, it’s because she had plenty to eat since she hunted – right??” which definitely takes away from the portrayal of how hungry and disadvantaged they were supposed to be. Now, I’m not saying she had to lose 20 lbs but for, example, the training outfit was very fitted and really showed her curves. I think if they’d given her a size bigger, it would have hung around her body more and given the appearance of someone who was a little more famished. I think there are enough camera tricks to get that idea across that these kids are not having 3 square meals a day. 

  • Anonymous

    Here’s what it will do for female action films.

    Nothing.

    Right now, a dozen people at a dozen film companies are trying to figure out why this film succeeded, and it looks remarkable like the old tale of the blind men and the Elephant Pic – http://bit.ly/GSwaY3

    Each person will have a different theory, and amazingly, each one’s theory will claim that the work of the department they work for was the more important in the film’s success.  I’m sure the guy who cut the deal with Hot Topic is trying to get his share of the success cake.

    NONE of them will consider “story” or “strong female lead”.  They’ll fall back on the marketing plan, arguing that they did a good job of HIDING the fact that it was a female lead in an action film, something that would SURELY have made people stay away in droves.

    We’ll see a couple more young adult novels get optioned, and some incompetent will consider an American remake of Battle Royale, since it’s “just the same”.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    I did think she was a little healthy looking for someone from District 12, but meh!  I enjoyed her performance all the same =)

  • Russell Jones

    Don’t forget the upcoming Pixar film, “Brave”, continues the “tough women with bows” trend, which I highly approve of.

    Also, re: weight, I didn’t read the books before coming to the movie, and I wasn’t distracted by her looks/weight. She was a hunter who provided for her family in ways others couldn’t or didn’t. I understand critics are critics, but this issue in particular needs to be put down. Jennifer Lawrence did a bang-up job, period, and I’m curious to see what she does next.

  • Anonymous

    First: I am totally bummed because I went to try to see this damn movie yesterday, but even though we got there 20 minutes early the only seats available were in the front four “you-like-your-eyeballs-pressed-to-the-screen,-right?” rows. So we said fuck it and left. I want to see that movie, not see part of it because my eyeballs and neck can’t track fast enough to get the whole image.

    Second, I had the good fortune of encountering Ms. Lawrence a few days ago. And let me tell you- big boned and voluptuous she ain’t. While she’s obviously a normal, healthy girl– she is rather small-boned, and certainly not anywhere near voluptuous. Seeing her in person, you could totally believe that with a little shading makeup, she could easily look emaciated.

  • http://twitter.com/Googolbyte Kieron George

    I didn’t realise that having a female lead in an action movie was unusual, but I suppose The Hunger Games was the first action movie I’ve seen in a very long time.

  • Anonymous

     In her home town, yes, she was normal weight because she hunted (except during the time right after Katniss’s father died). So that in and of itself isn’t an issue. By the time the story takes place, Katniss has one of the best fed families in the Seam. DURING the Hunger Games she loses weight, because there is limited opportunity to hunt and she didn’t pick up any food at the cornucopia. I’m OK with not making the actress starve to make that show on the screen though. I don’t think it would have added enough to the film to make the sacrifice worth it.

  • Anonymous

    “And—most bluntly—Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells calls Lawrence a “fairly tall, big-boned lady” who’s “too big” for Josh Hutcherson, who plays Katniss’s romantic interest.”

    …meanwhile ignoring how schlubby, tubby, not-great-eye-candy male actors routinely are partnered with beautiful skinny female actors because THAT’S THE NORM and it’s all for the unending glory of the het male. Way to live in cognitive-dissonance land Mr Wells.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=607464418 Rusty Patti

    “I don’t really diet or anything. I’m miserable when I’m dieting and I like the way I look. I’m really sick of all these actresses looking like birds… I’d rather look a little chubby on camera and look like a person in real life, than look great on screen and look like a scarecrow in real life.” ~ Jennifer Lawrence.

    Now THAT’S a role model for young girls.

  • http://twitter.com/crlanei C. R. Lanei

    On the weight issue (which really doesn’t seem like that big of an issue), it seems fair game to be asked stretch our imaginations a bit on this given that we’re asked to accept healthy size actresses as fat or even obese on a regular basis.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    It is the same. Anyone that doesn’t see all the similarities between Battle Royale and The Hunger Games is deliberately avoiding the contrasts because they’re defenders of The Hunger Games and its originality, which is unnecessary. The Hunger Games novels and film have a far superior story, better written characters, and a much more complex world than Battle Royale. I’m including the BR manga, novel, and film in this summation. After watching them back to back, I’ve decided to stick with my cheap bootleg copy of Battle Royale rather than upgrading to the new blu-ray release simply because it isn’t worth the money.

  • Terence Ng

    I felt the same way. I don’t particularly want any actress to have to drop 20 or 30 lbs, but even when she was among the best fed families in the Seam, I thought the book made it very clear that being the best fed in District 12 is still not all that healthy. That Lawrence looks as healthy as the Career tributes, whom she is supposed to be visually distinct from, was a little off-putting and I figured (correctly) that they would just ignore the whole aspect of her becoming nearly skin and bones during the Hunger Games. I thought, for example, with the exception of Gale and Peeta, everyone else looked properly sized for living the harsh life described in the Seam–Prim, Katniss’ mother, Peeta’s mother, the miners.

    Her becoming emaciated for a movie like Hunger Games is unnecessary (maybe if it was a more serious film like Charlize Theron’s total body change for “Monster”), but I won’t deny that I noticed it.

  • Jen Roberts

    Um, it’s a good article and all, but there are several errors that made it past your proofreaders: your first paragraph just says “$155″ without the million, for example.

    As far as the weight comments? UGH. One reviewer says she’s too seductive and too much of a grown woman; another says she still has baby fat? Yeah, okay. She’s not Christian Bale, who subsisted on an apple or a can of tuna a day to play the lead in The Machinist. And she doesn’t have to do that.

    I still haven’t seen it yet (I wanted to wait for the throngs of screaming teens to die down a bit), but I’ll be helping add to its numbers, hopefully this weekend! :3

  • Terence Ng

    The only real similarity is that a government forces teenagers to fight to the death.

    It’s like saying that Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are the same thing. Evil magic woman puts princess to sleep who is awoken by a kiss. They’re similarly premised, but not the same.

    Given, I’ve only seen the movie version of BR, but BR is very scant on what the edict is: One random, poorly behaved school class is selected to fight to the death as an example to the other poorly behaved teenagers in society, and the winner is celebrated in a grotesque sort of manner. BR suggests that the children are the ones who suffer, but their suffering isn’t an oppressive tool that the government uses to suppress society in general, only its poorly behaved youth. It’s reflective of a society that has accepted and celebrates an out of control and inhumane policy against a specific age group.

    HG is about an oppressive government that uses society’s children to punish them all each year as sacrifices (with the exception of the disconnected capitol). It also majorly focuses exclusively on the line between violence and entertainment, which isn’t a factor in BR at all. The main point of the Hunger Games is for a ruthless dictatorship to continuously remind an oppressed society of its power and control. While BR is primarily about the horror of senseless violence, HG is specifically about the celebration of senseless violence. Katniss’ time in the Arena is horrible, but the main focus is always about how each tribute is a contestant, how their actions are being broadcast, and how they have to play the game. BR is focused on survival in a horrible situation, with virtually no involvement of the concept of media, entertainment, or celebrity.

    The themes are completely different, but only seem to align because kids fight to the death, it’s because of an overhead institution, and a 30 second throw-away moment at the beginning of the movie where a winner gets some media attention.

    HG has a lot more thematically in common with the purported inspiration–the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur–and Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” than it really has to do with BR.

  • http://www.facebook.com/actionflickchick Kat Hill

    “Big boned”?! Good grief. Have those writers met live humans?

  • http://twitter.com/zaewen Zaewen

    Yea that comment really stuck with me too. She’s too big for him? She’s the friggin star of the movie, if you really want to go there Mr Wells then he’s too small for her. The fact that he’s focusing on how ‘inappropriate’ of an LI she is for him (instead of vice versa) really seals the deal on the idea of female actors can’t carry a film and there really only there to serve as eye candy for men in or out of the movie.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5ZXIEGCAFZ4F7LBI6QTTN3YJCY Ashe

    The summation I read on RottenTomatoes explaining the movie’s success put a lot of emphasis on that fact it ‘had more male appeal’.

    And yet John Carter, specifically and controversially tweaked to focus more on the male audience, suffered a huge box office drop.

    When will they stop using men as a catalyst for every single success? Because they sure as heck don’t ever tote them as a reason for failure, unlike those pesky women.

    I hope The Hunger Games, Brave and the next-action-movie-with-Gina-Carano help push more women into the spotlight, but I won’t hold my breath. :T

  • Megan Van Dyke

    I agree that I noticed this, although less with Katniss and more with Rue, but I think it’s a perfectly acceptable suspension of disbelief thing.  I wouldn’t have wanted them to ask Lawrence to starve herself for the role, and they certainly couldn’t have asked the underage actors to do so.  The casting was so good overall that this one detail didn’t bother me.

  • Life Lessons

    Love your post and AMEN!!!!

  • Life Lessons

    Plus, yes Jennifer Lawrence might have been bigger than the fictional Katniss, but JHC I am stick of seeing stick thin women in films! Sick of it! Yes, they need to be there but other body sizes need to be there as well. Jennifer fully captured Katniss. I mean, do we say Hugh Jackman shouldn’t play Wolverine because he was too tall?
    Haters will hate, especially hating towards women, but I thought it was very well done!

  • http://twitter.com/Deviija Devi Sage

    I love this!  Take that, people that don’t believe women action heroines can make it in the box office!  (Even though last yearish, we did see Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil and Angelina Jolie in Salt do well, too.  And they weren’t overtly sexualized in them, imo.)  Bring on more strong heroines! 

  • http://profiles.google.com/gnomer.denois Jill Oliver

     In her home town they were all malnourished. She hunted to supplement the meager rations they were given and to sell to provide other necessities because her mother did a whole lot of nothing to support them after their father died, she was the only one supporting them. If she was well fed because of her hunting she wouldn’t have put her name in for tesserae every year.

    They shouldn’t make the actress starve, but like Nikki Lincoln said, camera tricks and make up can be used to make her look more underfed.

  • http://barre.nom.fr/ -S

    > a female action lead who wasn’t sexualized to grab attention

    Haha, rrrrriiiight. As opposed to every other photoshoots she was in lately to “promote” the movie.
    http://www.pajiba.com/seriously_random_lists/a-photographic-history-of-jennifer-lawrences-brief-career.php

  • http://profiles.google.com/gnomer.denois Jill Oliver

    I’m a bit confused by people saying they are tired of seeing stick thin women in movies. Yes, for modern day regular women, they should be more realistic. This is a character in a setting that would preclude normal weight that we see today. She should be thinner. Just like Natalie Portman wouldn’t have made a convincing ballerina in Black Swan if she weighed 180 lbs. 

    That said, I didn’t have a problem with the weight in the film because I could suspend disbelief, I just think it would have allowed a more immersive experience. What bothered me in the film is the cinematography style which made it more confusing about what was going on because they tried to use that to show was she was thinking and feeling. Also the fact that in order to include all the plot points they skipped over a lot of story development portions that make the plot points make sense on why the characters act the way they do. There are quite a few times where only part of the information is given or alluded to and the audience has to make a logic jump or just accept what happens.  This isn’t a problem for people that read the books, because they know why Katniss acts all lovey with Peeta. For people that haven’t….I understand why people compare it to Twilight as just a love triangle story.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    O RLY?

    The Hunger Games was published after Battle Royale, so it is derivative even if it is a much improved story. Don’t mistake– I like The Hunger Games more. Despite that, and their shared history (I would include the Roman arenas as inspiration, along with dictatorships throughout history, myths such as Theseus and the Minotaur, as well as speculative fiction like The Lottery), there are many similarities.

    These similarities include: 

    - THG and BR both deal with tyrannical governments forcing teenagers to fight to the death- In THG, the Capitol citizens are depicted as gluttonous, vain, and mostly incapable of realizing how horrible the games area. In the BR manga, the “teacher” that supervises the game is depicted as a fat, sweaty, vain rapist and murderer with no compassion.- Both stories deal with three core teenagers that form an alliance. Aside from having their sexes reversed, the trio are very similar.- There is an incongruous love triangle shoved awkwardly into both stories.- Including Catching Fire, both stories include a contestant that has competed in a previous game and is now attempting to dismantle the system from within.- Both governments have control of the battleground that includes the ability to section it off, forcing the players to compete rather than strafing from a distance and avoiding conflict.- Including the second BR film, the (literally) break-out stars from the previous game have become freedom fighters/terrorists, just as they do in THG.- Both THG and BR include fish-out-of-water contestants that have little chance of winning, contestants that ally themselves with others then betray them and contestants able to use their unique non-combative skills to advantage in the game.- Both THG and BR (the manga, especially) depict the games being used as entertainment for the masses. In THG, this is forced, whereas in BR it is commercialized, not unlike Survivor (bring home season five, on sale today!) or Big Brother.- Including the BR manga, both the government in THG and BR have no problem harming the families of the contestants in order to encourage full cooperation.- In BR and THG, advantageous weapons and supplies are placed randomly, to make the games more entertaining.- Including BR 2, the protagonist from the first incarnation of both BR and THG becomes the figurehead of the rebellion in the sequel(s).- Including Catching Fire, a hyper-sexualized character in BR and THG attempts to beguile other contestants in order to make the kill easier.- The governments in THG and BR are using the randomly selected contestants as an example and award the winner of each game (in the BR novel and manga, this is made clear) with a mattress that they shall rest on and want for nothing, all the rest of their days. As long as play nice during publicity stunts, of course.- Including BR 2, the games in THG and BR are altered after the winners of the original BR and THG fail to uphold the shining image of harmony the governments attempt to depict, in order to punish the winners.- BR 2 sucked. (This isn’t a similarity. I just figured, while I was on a soapbox, I’d get it out of my system.)…there might be more similarities, but I’m actually visiting with family right now and am being quite rude, so I’ll disconnect until later.Oh, lastly: Sleeping Beauty – Pin Wheel = Snow White – Dwarves. They have the same root story. Look it up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andreia-Augusto/100003102682236 Andreia Augusto

     Lots of those pictures were from before she was chosen to play Katniss. And just because she has those photos it doesn’t mean she isn’t talented and to promote the Hunger Games specifically she has not appeared naked nor half naked…

  • Anonymous

     Unfortunately the people making the Mass Effect movie have decided that it’s going to DudeShep. And Seth Green will probably not be cast as Joker.
    To which i say, what is the point of going to see it then?

  • http://chocolateandcreamcake.blogspot.com Mandy Curtis

    Why, Indeed.

    Like I said, wishful thinking. :/

  • Anonymous

    The box office success of the Hunger Games will make studios be on the watch for the next big franchise in YA literature. Authors are going to make millions selling their books to studios. And the genre seems to skew female. So the audience numbers of the Hunger Games bear that out. If anything, Twilight and Hunger Games demonstrate the spending power of a primarily tween or female audience who seem to be more fervent supporters of the fiction they love. (Dark Knight Returns costs 300 million and Avengers 250 million)

    The fact that these movies are cheaper to produce makes them all the more attractive.Of course this might not translate into foreign box office success which studios are increasingly banking on.

  • Terence Ng

    I’ll start where you ended. Yes, they have the same root story, but they’re not the same. That’s my point. If you ask someone if Snow White is a rip off of Sleeping Beauty, they will say no, because the stories are recognized as distinct, even with their basic similarities. These are archetypes and tropes, but any work can be minimally outlined as a comparative equivalent to another. BR and HG both fulfill the basic gladiator archetype/unjust ruler.

    I disagree with your comparison of The Capitol and Kitano. The Capitol is explicitly intended to depict a society that is excessive and rich and complicit in the Hunger Games because it actually has no understanding of the reality of what oppression means for the districts and the children of those districts. It’s not portrayed as “fat and lazy” nor is it particularly portrayed as villainous. It is antagonistic only because it is ignorant and privileged.

    Again, I’m only going on the first film, but Kitano is depicted as slovenly and lazy, and he oversees the BR because he desires revenge and has no moral compass. He does not serve in the same role as The Capitol. 

    Kitano’s only equivalent is President Snow, and their comparisons render them very different. Kitano is a pawn who fills a role for an overarching, menacing government because it incidentally links with his own agenda–wanting to punish the “students” who attacked him and his lecherous desire for Noriko. He doesn’t really care about why BR exists or what affect is has on society. Snow orchestrates and maintains the Hunger Games as the seat of power for The Capitol. While his denizens are ignorant, he is not, and he knows exactly what the games are and what they imply. He is an intelligent and seemingly benevolent dictator. Nor is he depicted as fat, sweaty, or vain. He is polished, cold, and calculating. They are entirely different characters with different roles, linked only by a vague description that they are the chief villains of each story. The Capitol’s only comparison is the city of future Tokyo.

    The trio is also incomparable because there is never a trio in the first Hunger Games book. Katniss forms an alliance with Rue, then forms an alliance with Peeta. If you mean to compare the trio of Gale, Peeta, and Katniss, that’s not really an alliance either. Gale and Peeta only interact together by the third book, and there’s never any mention of the three functioning as a distinct unit. The only way the three are linked is by a love triangle, but there’s no circumstance in which all three function together to survive the Arena, particularly because Gale is never in the Arena and isn’t in the final assault on the Capitol.

    To the contrary, Shogo, Shuya, and Noriko form an actual alliance within the BR arena, but there’s no love triangle. Shogo assists Shuya and Noriko because he wants to help them escape while he has his own agenda for entering BR again.

    The only way to compare Shogo as a character and his alliance is to compare him to the multiple characters of Finnick, Beetee, Johanna, Wiress, and Chaff, since that’s all of their motivations as part of a larger underground agenda. Shogo attempts to dismantle BR as a singular agent until his death. Potentially, Finnick could be compared to Shogo, but that basically ends in so far as both are former contestants finding themselves (one by choice, the other by force) in the same event they had previously survived, but in the case of HG, all characters are in that situation in Catching Fire, but again, only because they have no choice but to reenter.

    The fish-out-of-water winner trope is incorrect. Katniss is far from a fish-out-of-water, while Shuya can be described as such. Significant time is devoted to demonstrating how Katniss stands a significant chance of winning–her prowess at hunting, her intellect, and her willingness to be lethal if necessary. It’s her actions that keep her and her partner alive. Shuya is just a student with a potlid who inexplicably survives because of circumstance and the fortune of an aggressive ally.

    If BR is portrayed as media entertainment in the manga, so be it. But in the film, I never saw media attention given to the  battle itself, only the final winner, nor was there any mention of the winner being showered with an easy life, or the tension of behaving properly to spare themselves and their loved ones from government action. BR, in fact, seems only to be a highly publicized punishment, but not one that is used to entertain. Hunger Games revolves around their use as entertainment to an ignorant society.

    It is also because they’re entertainment that the games are structured differently. BR drops naive children into a situation demanding that they fight to the death, leaving one survivor. The goal of BR and its contestants is to survive. There isn’t a commentary on what it means to be a participant. On the other hand, Hunger Games is consumed by the idea of the games and its contestants being about more than survival. They’re again, about entertainment. Tributes must train for two weeks before the games start. Some tributes spend their lives training to be celebrities and win. The success of a tribute depends on their persona and the willingness of the audience to sympathize and support them. It’s about contestants providing a show that pacifies the audience more than it is about whether the contestants survive. BR contestants only have to fight and live, HG contestants have to focus equally on fighting and playing a game.

    Their weapons aren’t random. They’re structured to give each contestant the advantage they need. The only similarity is that the weapons are made available in the Arena. It is a means to give each character the tool they need to be compelling, while BR’s distribution is just random. It increases the odds and interest of the BR event, but has nothing to do with the characters themselves.

    Ultimately, I think comparisons between the two are superficial. What Arena in a highly developed dystopian world wouldn’t be controlled? When would weapons not be provided to contestants whoa re supposed to kill each other? What narrative involving a character facing a Kafka-esque situation wouldn’t naturally be written as overthrowing the tyranny that placed them there? And what individual who succeeds in being the first to overthrow a tyrannical dictatorship wouldn’t be viewed as a symbol of the rebellion (John Conner, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, et al)? 

    Again, those are tropes, but if you look beyond archetypes and tropes and chisel at the themes behind both, the motivations behind each are different. Those are what makes both of them distinct.

    BTW, I hope your family doesn’t bug you and that you feel better. :/

  • A Talbot

    Personally, I think Lawrence looks absolutely fine. She’s pretty skinny anyways, and you’ve got consider the fact that she has been hunting and selling what she gets. According to the book, she an excellent hunter. 

    Besides, would you really expect such a skinny actress to lose more weight for a part? That’s really unhealthy. We should just be glad we got her anyways. She’s a natural for Katniss. She feels so real.

    My only real problem concerning weight was the fact that Gale and Peeta looked really, really healthy. Peeta, I understand, he’s strong from carrying flour at the bakery and having plenty of bread to eat. Gale, on the other hand, well…he’s just too healthy. I was really expecting someone a bit skinnier for that part, because he doesn’t get a lot to eat. Even less than Katniss, in fact, because he’s got more siblings to split the game with. 

  • A Talbot

    I think the real question here is if those writers are real humans…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2ESZWQZWVK2M5MBXH4REHXTSSM Josh L

    The only odd thing I found about this article is where it says it’s the third best opening of all time behind Potter and Batman and in the very next sentence says it beat Batman.  Apparently, “beat” means something else in this context.  

    As for those weight comments, I suppose the first one could at least be taken as an analysis, but I hardly think it’s necessary to work in the film.  The other two just seem rather mean-spirited.  Exactly how can someone be “too big” for their romantic interest?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hannah-Paige-Woodard/100003224964929 Hannah Paige Woodard

    Seriously! I mean, Katniss didn’t look starved, but I looked at her and thought “MAN she has a great body, she’s so little!” What universe are these people from?

    …oh right. Hollywood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hannah-Paige-Woodard/100003224964929 Hannah Paige Woodard

    …not that her body wouldn’t be great if she wasn’t little… those were not meant to be as related as I made them sound haha. Anyways, the point is she’s freakin’ beautiful.

  • Terence Ng

    Well, if we’re going to be honest, both Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis lost a ton of weight to get the gaunt ballerina look that would make sense for their roles in Black Swan. I don’t think the weight loss for Portman was particularly sexualized. In fact, it seemed particularly striking to add to the overall negative portrayal the film had for the rigors of being a trained ballerina. 

    Christian Bale also did the same for The Mechanist, as did Matt Damon for Courage Under Fire, Colin Farell in Triage, and Tom Hanks for Castaway. Beyonce did a less extreme 20 lb drop for Dreamgirls.

    Likewise, Charlize Theron gained and lost an unhealthy amount of weight in a short time for her role portraying Aileen Wuornos in Monster.

    I’m not saying that I feel Lawrence needed to. Her weight isn’t anywhere extremely different enough, nor is the description of Katniss SO gaunt and skinny that I couldn’t suspend disbelief (same goes for Peeta and Gale), but there IS a precedent for already skinny actors and actresses to change their weight unhealthily to obtain the physical description of their characters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=607464418 Rusty Patti

    and also, Collins said she never read/saw Battle Royale. I’ll take her at her word.

  • http://twitter.com/coreyregalado Corey Regalado

    I’m pretty disgusted at Hollywood Elsewhere’s review (never heard of that publication), complaining that Jennifer Lawrence is too big for Josh Hutcherson. As a short guy who will never be tall and has, for his entire life, been shamed for never being taller than his female partners, I find Katniss and Peeta to be a breath of fresh air.

  • http://twitter.com/coreyregalado Corey Regalado

    Well, Lawrence wasn’t sexualized. So . . . moving on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aleya-Vigiogarms/100002890437829 Aleya Vigiogarms

     Wait, you mean two different books are thematically similar? Wow, you must be the first person ever to make this connection. Give your self a fucking cookie.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    @facebook-100002890437829:disqus Wow, sarcasm! How original! Let me see if I can do it too!@facebook-607464418:disqus  Yes,because when people make statements in the public record, they’re always truthful and accurate. I believe her. Heck, I’ve never told a lie in my life. My whole life. Ever. Ever. Ever. …Ever. Ever. And I’m sure she hasn’t either. Because she’s perfect. Like me. We’re both perfect.@google-76d02172cd394aa5593e79cced762ca8:disqus Resisting the urge to continue arguing about Snow White and Sleeping Beauty…and failing, I’m not saying that either story is a ripoff, merely that they are so similar as to be recognizably similar. Almost everywhere that I have read the two names together, the similarity has been dismissed, and it bugs me. Yes, Battle Royale is an inferior story, but if Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam  can be called Turkish Star Wars, then Battle Royale is certainly similar enough to The Hunger Games for one or the other to be given a moniker such as American Battle Royale or Japanese Hunger Games. Is Turkish Star Wars shit? Well, without a hilarious commentary, yes. Is The Hunger Games a very good movie, an even greater book, and vastly more interesting and compelling than Battle Royale? Yes, but the similarities are undeniable and do not just begin and end with similar archetypes and tropes.For example, while Battle Royale is simply the story of a group of students chosen at random to fight to the death, it is due to the passing of the BR Act. The BR Act establishes that the corrupt government concludes that the youth is failing to uphold to a certain standard and as a result the country is in recession. The progeny are in need of violent encouragement toward personal success in endeavoring to better themselves. In the manga and novel, readers are made aware that the games are televised and recordings are available for purchase, so they provide entertainment as well as a constant reminder and reinforcement that the youths of Japan are loathsome creatures (capable of terrible inhumane acts) that must be forced to strive toward bettering themselves.In The Hunger Games, the annual pageant has similar aims for different reasons. Rather than truly encouraging the District tributes to fight for personal honor, they’re sewing discord between the Districts. After all, they’ll hardly want to unite after watching their children brutally murder one another. The Games also act as entertainment for the Capitol citizens, who are encouraged to think of the Districts’ denizens as lesser barbarians, capable of horrific acts upon one another. The game in each book is different, but serve very similar goals and provide almost the same function.Point by point, if fat isn’t a word you like, then gluttonous is a description of nearly every Capitol citizen, and fits the “teacher” given to Class B in the novel and manga. No, it isn’t a fit for Kitano (and I’m not sure at all why he’s in the film –his personal connection with the class seems out of place for the assignment, especially his connection with Noriko, which is all kinds of artsy fartsy and detracts from the story), but it does suit the fat, sweating, raping, murderer that is put in charge of the students in the novel. I realize you haven’t read it. I agree that in the films only, Kitano would be matched with Snow, and that comparison doesn’t make any sense. It would make more sense if he were matched with Haymitch, if Noriko were matched with Katniss…and the whole thing falls apart.I indicated that there was a trio in Battle Royale. Shuya, Shogo, and Noriko are the “good” characters, the protagonist’s team (though there are plenty of students that would rather not fight to the death). In The Hunger Games, while they are not formally allied, Peeta and Rue are aligned with Katniss. Katniss is unsure if she can immediately trust Peeta, fearing betrayal, and then IS betrayed (or so it seems), just as Shuya and Noriko are “betrayed” by Shogo. Also, while Noriko seems practically useless for the whole of Battle Royale and needs Shuya and Shogo’s constant protection, Peeta, is made vulnerable and needs rescuing by Katniss (I would say this is a bit different from how Rue rescues Katniss, if only because Peeta seems pretty inept and even after recovering, provides minimal assistance).The love triangle I mentioned exists between Shuya, Noriko, and Nobu. Shuya’s love for his fallen pal, Noriko’s crush on Shuya, and then Shuya’s knowledge of Nobu’s crush compels Shuya to protect Noriko…and it is very different from the stunt romance that Katniss and Peeta display while Gale keeps his feelings badly hidden, though Peeta is truly in love with Katniss, and Katniss doesn’t seem to have an interest in either of them…Shogo absolutely compares. How can you say he doesn’t compare to the situation in Catching Fire? He’s back for a round 2. That’s the comparison I made. They’re back for a round 2. He’s back for a round 2. That’s it.I’ll give in quite easily that Shuya is much more useless than Katniss. She seems absolutely willing to fight to survive, whereas he’s just constantly reacting to and then fleeing from the violence around him.I would say that there’s plenty of commentary in what participation is like in Battle Royale. In the film, two couples kill themselves rather than fight, two girls attempt to unite their friends via megaphone rather than fight, one girl takes to murdering her classmates with terrifying ease, and more than a few of them seem to completely lose their shit during the competition. And then there’s The Third Man and his team, building fertilizer bombs and attempting to hack into the government’s local computer.So, there’s commentary, it just isn’t very deep, and most of it is implied. In fact, it’s implied that the “transfer students” are brought in just to spice things up, which was shoe-horned into the movie not unlike Kitano…and seems to muddle things. But, taken at face value, it implies that the game designers realize the majority of the students might refuse to fight and therefore things need to be spiced up.The weapons aren’t hand-delivered to the participants in The Hunger Games and who ends up with what is fairly random. That’s all I was saying. I realize it’s simplistic and superficial. In fact, most of what you are saying, broken down…yes, the further you deconstruct it, the less the films are alike. Also, my original point, the further you break down Battle Royale, the less substance you’ll even find there. Almost everything in the series needs to be inferred or implied, because its just not terribly deep stuff. Collins’ books are better. I’m just tired of people saying that there are no similarities…there are plenty. BR came out first. The Hunger Games is very similar on the surface and has a lot of the same detailing. It shares many, many tropes. But, hell, to say that they can’t be compared because…oh, they’re both Dystopian Arena stories? Well, there’s also Robot Jox, Beyond Thunderdome, Rollerball, Tron, and The Running Man, alongside The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. To say that none of these things are at all similar beyond the fact that they include games of life and death…well, surely, The Hunger Games and Battle Royale share other similarities that Tron doesn’t? They do. Everyone seems so freaking threatened by the concept.

  • Anonymous

    I’m just waiting for the news that “Sabriel” (part one of the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix) will *finally* be made into a movie. Kick-ass YA heroines (Sabriel, Lirael) + zombies. Please, Hollywood?

  • http://twitter.com/actionmoviefrea Action Movie Freak

    “Yes, wonderful things” the beginning of a new era for Women of Action!

  • w williams

    Re HG critics/reviewers:

    Well, how else would a misogynistic culture undermine all that is brilliant about this young woman?  Make absolutely certain that despite all of her accomplishments, she still isn’t “good enough” by finding fault with her appearance.  Classic!

  • https://twitter.com/ZenPoseur ZenPoseur

    This bodes well for the film version of my own upcoming novel: The Girl Who Shot Arrows at People: An Autobiography

  • John Christie

    Lawrence was the best thing about the movie. Though after the first hour I wanted to punch the cinematographer in the head.

  • Francesca M

    Oh.. god…

    I never thought about those being movies… I HAS THE VAPORS

  • Francesca M

    Side bar about the height thing: They never seem to complain about Tom Cruise’s LIs all towering over him. Granted they spend a lot of time on trick photography but seriously. Maybe Peeta needs a box, like Gillian Anderson’s? THat would be fair.

  • http://twitter.com/richardjgibbs Richard Gibbs

    I just put it down to bad casting. Lawrence IS too big to be Katniss. She’s not unhealthy, or unattractive big but she IS bigger than the character she is playing. There are plenty of actresses out there that already have that gaunt look without resorting to losing a ridiculous amount of weight. 

    In terms of them not sexualising the character… well she is essentially a child (16 I think???) so it would have taken away from how old she was supposed to be.

    As for something new? We’ve been seeing bigger girls (and by that I mean normally proportioned girls that don’t wear child size clothes) in movies and TV for a while now. Hell, Katee Sackhoff in BSG was an awesome example – not rake thin but normally proportioned, brimming with confidence, better than her male counterparts. Kaley Cuoco in the Big Bang Theory isn’t tiny (and would get more parts if she could act). Scarlett Johansson has curves.  Christina Hendricks is practically King Kong by usual standards (and she is more than welcome to lay claim to me and take me to the top of a tall building). The list is pretty endless at the moment and that’s a great thing.

    Maybe all the negativity isn’t called for. Just maybe the way the female lead was used in the Hunger Games is the correct conclusion drawn from years of previous baby steps forward, rather than a lesson to be learned in and of itself?

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    Is it just me or does anyone else think that Lawrence have such an interesting face?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=607464418 Rusty Patti

    I was not being sarcastic. Unless someone has a track record as a liar I try to take them at their word.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Exactly – some ill-fitting outfits and properly placed make up should have helped out with that a lot. 

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I know, I didn’t mean you…the  ”at” name labeling didn’t work like I expected it to.

  • http://twitter.com/amongthegoblins Katherine Traylor

    She says explicitly in the book that she’s much better fed than most people in District Twelve because she’s able to hunt and forage all the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    But that she’s still underfed in general. You can tell by her reactions to receiving any sort of bread – both in the movie and the book. The book describes food A LOT and it seems like they were usually able to have one ok meal a day in the Seam. This is especially clear when she eats her self to the point of illness when she first sees the rich food of the Capitol. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/nomadzophiel Matt Zophiel

     To some extent, I think this is a budget concern. Take The Matrix for example, where Keanu Reeves had to drop significant weight for one scene. They needed him to be emaciated and skeletal when he came out of the tank and was first on the ship, so he dropped something like 30 lbs. Then they needed him to be an action star. In the case of The Matrix, the actors went through 6-9 months of training, so he had plenty of time to put it back on and get in shape. Some people have the metabolism to put on and drop weight as needed and stay healthy but they’re rare. It doesn’t bother me much that this particular action heroine wasn’t asked to go through the same thing.

  • Jessica Zeiler

    I always imagined Katniss looking very thin and underdeveloped, hunting  would keep food on the table but it’s not like  it always a lot of food. And for a movie called the hunger games they barely show the characters slowly starving for lack of food.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chemise-Rogers/39609427 Chemise Rogers

     I really, really hope this happens one day!

  • jazzi707y2l

    It’s amazing how people are calling attention to Jennifer Lawerence being too “big” to play a person growing up in an impoverished place, who relys mostly on her hunting skills. Yet no one is calling out Liam Hensworth for being too bulky to play Gale, even though they live with the same situation. You need fat in order to turn it into muscle so realistically he really shouldn’t be that bulky. He’s also a bit muscular than Peeta, who as a baker’s son has a much better diet, not to mention he does more manual labor.
    I smell double standard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Krijgsman/1044544632 Mark Krijgsman

     Battle royale is still the better book,  dont get me wrong i love th ehunger games, and i must say the katniss in my head was not all skinny , she looked like the girl on the cover,
    but back to my initial point, the hunuger games is for young adults, and only deal with teenagers killing other teenagers, battle royale deals with more deep isseus, like  can you kill a friend  to stay alive your self,

    its more than just  a school class is forced to kill each other to be an example off, nobody was allowed to say no to the selection, as in theb ook it is described how the teacher was killed becuas he opposed and the lady from the orphanage in wich the main caracter was brought was raped becues she opposed,  even parents were killed becuas of opposition, those things are not in the movie or the anime , but are in the book,

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Krijgsman/1044544632 Mark Krijgsman

    BR2 was made by the son of the author, and not the author of the book himself.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    …right. So?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Krijgsman/1044544632 Mark Krijgsman

    i know a lot of people who never read or seen the battle royale stuff (funny that she knows it as a book and a movie) but a lot of people have heard of it,   and besides since the cave paintings, alot of stories look alike

  • Ariel Wetzel

    I would guess that Jennifer Lawrence is still probably a size 2 or size 4… still quite small out in the real world.  FYI, she’s said in interviews that she resents starving herself for X-men.  I appreciate that they didn’t make her diet for Hunger Games.  I loved that Katniss looked fit and muscular, which is how I like my lady action heroes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hannah-Paige-Woodard/100003224964929 Hannah Paige Woodard

    Oh my word yes. I thought I would throw up from the camera shake. Luckily it calmed down eventually.

  • Shannon Dixon

    point is, Katniss is not her looks, and Jennifer Lawrence helped her show that. Katniss is a human being. And she is smart and strong and willful.