2 things the Hunger Games film reminds us about the book industry
March 23, 2012 § 9 Comments
It’s not a big secret that I’m pretty conflicted about books that are made into movies, even (and sometimes especially) if the movies turn out good. That said, it’s been incredibly encouraging to see all the hubbub created by the release of the first Hunger Games movie. I’ve talked to dozens of people who would never have heard of the book if it weren’t for the movie, many of them who were reading it to see what the commotion is all about. Even better–“something better than getting people reading?!” you ask–yes, even better is that it’s getting people talking about the themes of the book, like privileged people taking what they have for granted and turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, and being used by non-profits as an opportunity to raise awareness about world hunger.
And I have to admit that it would be dishonest of me to say that I haven’t been stoked to see it.
So rather than get down about the fact that many times more people are going to see the movie than will ever read the book, I’m looking at the positive.
If you haven’t noticed, it seems like every year more books are adapted for the screen, and it’s not just the book industry that Hollywood is borrowing from. The past decade has been defined by superhero movies as well as remakes and sequels that rarely compete with the originals, not to mention basing movies on toy franchises. It’s gotten to the point that they’re making a Battleship movie, supposedly inspired by the board game… but with aliens. I’m not even kidding.
There are a lot of reasons for Hollywood to have adopted this business model, what with dropping movie attendance and technology in flux, and I don’t hold it against them, but there are two interesting insights that can be gleaned from this:
1. Young adult literature has just about the most rabid fan base around
The Hunger Games movie is set up to have a record setting opening night and weekend for a non-sequel, the Twilight movies have had movie goers attending in droves, and Harry Potter is the highest grossing film franchise of all time, above, for example, Star Wars. However you feel about movies based on books, it’s pretty exciting to see so many young adults fired up about their favorite books, characters, and worlds.
2. The world of young adult fiction (and fiction in general) is a creative boom town
I don’t want to over state this because there are an awful lot of derivative books out there and books that don’t push the boundaries (and even The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter do their fair share of borrowing), but we aren’t at a place where we’re rewriting classics to try and make a cheap buck. Even better, authors are writing books that resonate with people young and old.
So here’s me resolving to take it as a complement when Hollywood comes along and leeches off the publishing industry’s creativity and fan base, and in the future when people talk excitedly about the Hunger Games movie, with a smile on my face I will (do my best to) say there are a thousand other worlds to be explored that are just as good, and they can be found at their local library.
And hopefully I will sound less pretentious when I say it then it looks when I type it.
My the odds be ever in your favor.