By David Outten
The Hollywood website THE WRAP reports that 61% of the opening weekend audience for THE HUNGER GAMES was female. They claim this provides Hollywood with a lesson about how to create a successful new blockbuster franchise, especially since it follows on the heels of the TWILIGHT franchise.
Traditionally, blockbuster franchises required the strong support of men and boys age 12 to 24 (TRANSFORMERS, HARRY POTTER, SPIDER-MAN, IRON MAN, etc.).
An irony is that, when you think about violent games, you think of boys and young men, not women. Now, THE HUNGER GAMES is drawing a heavily female audience.
The Hunger Games book was supposedly influenced by the popular television show SURVIVOR which was measured in an April 2010 story on “TV by the Numbers” to draw 58% female viewers.
Hollywood adores franchises. Pixar, and perhaps Disney, are the only studios that can put their name at the top of a poster and think an audience cares. Most studios use franchise movies like Pixar gets to use its brand.
Here’s the next ICE AGE, SHREK, SHERLOCK HOLMES, or PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN carries lots of weight her, but, “Here’s the next Warner Bros. movie,” is worthless.
The fact that second-tier studio Summit Entertainment struck gold with the TWILIGHT franchise and now Lionsgate has hit a rich vein with THE HUNGER GAMES will have the big boys pulling their hair out.
A new franchise is worth billions. At a $78 million budget, THE HUNGER GAMES was a bargain. It made $68 million on Friday in the United States alone. The first TWILIGHT cost a paltry $37 million and brought in $392 million worldwide. The franchise has racked up $2.5 billion with its first four movies.
Disney has poured huge budgets into THE PRINCE OF PERSIA and JOHN CARTER hoping for a franchise success similar to PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. You can hear the flop worldwide. Their next attempt looks like it may be HAUNTED MANSION.
Both TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES have been book series popular with women readers.
What some studio needs to notice is that there are some Christian fiction books series that are immensely popular with women. A June 2011 press release by Publisher’s Weekly lists Christian Fiction as the third most popular genre in eBook purchases. It came in higher than the categories “General Romance” and “General Fiction.”
Karen Kingsbury’s REDEMPTION series won a Retailers Choice Award for Best Series. The cost of producing such an entire series could be a fraction of the cost of JOHN CARTER.
As Aristotle and Jesus Christ taught 2,000 years ago, and MOVIEGUIDE® preaches today, story is king. Hollywood needs to focus on good stories with good heroes and heroines, not good special effects.