What The Hunger Games reminds us about marketing to readers

March 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

Last Thursday I read an article on adage.com entitled “Why ‘The Hunger Games’ Won’t Make $100 Million Its Opening Weekend.” It compared The Hunger Games to other movies like it–primarily Twilight: Breaking Dawn and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince–to estimate how many people would be going to The Hunger Games opening weekend. In a nutshell they tried to establish a “true reach” for Hunger Games marketing materials by looking at how many times trailers, interviews, etc. had been viewed as compared to other films with similar demographics and marketing strategies as of ten days before release.

For example, 10 days to release, the original “Twilight” film had generated 98.5 million views. It went on to bring $69.6 million at the box office its opening weekend. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” had driven more than 136.2 million views 10 days to its release. It saw $77.8 million at the box office.

Ten days to release, “The Hunger Games” had produced 89.4 million views, putting it significantly behind those films.

Ad Age basically predicted, according to this type of reasoning, that The Hunger Games would bring in around $80 million its opening weekend.

Well, if you haven’t heard, The Hunger Games « Read the rest of this entry »

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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. « Read the rest of this entry »

Tension, Prologues, and Dramatic Irony

February 2, 2012 § 5 Comments

Or: How David Eddings ruined a perfectly good book by including a prologue

First off, I apologize for the few new posts as of late. I’ve talked about the Three Stooges Syndrome here before, and I happen to be struggling with a bad case of it. I’m trying to crank out another short story or two to get in the submissions merry-go-round, finish the young adult steampunk novel that I’ve been working on for the last year (draft six, here I come), and a few new projects have come down the pipeline at work and are taking more creative energy than usual (which is a welcome challenge). Too many ideas have been trying to get out of my brain all at once, and hence none of them were making it through the door.

I had to cut back on something and, compared to work and writing, blogging isn’t my top priority. What that means is  for the next few weeks (or until things begin to lighten up) I’m going to blog only when I’ve got something demanding to be shared with you folks.

Which segues nicely into what brings me to my keyboard tonight…

I’ve had Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, a young adult fantasy book « Read the rest of this entry »

…and we’re back. With presents.

January 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

I just got back from two glorious weeks away with family and friends for the holidays, hence my silence on the blog front. My house is currently a minefield of partially-unpacked luggage and despite the fact that it’s only 6:30 in the evening, I feel ready for bed because I spent last night (and the wee hours of this morning) having way too much fun with college friends I hadn’t seen in way too long. All that to say that this will be short, sweet, and unrevised but I wanted to get back on the proverbial blogging horse. So here are my belated Christmas gifts to you, dear reader: « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

October 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

The world is teetering on the brink of World War 1, but in this alternate history it’s a showdown between the German and Austro-Hungarian “Clankers” with their steam-powered metal war machines and the British “Darwinists” with their fabricated animals.  Aleksander Ferdinand is a prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but when his parents are killed he finds himself on the run and he’s not sure from who. Deryn Sharp is a British girl who has disguised herself as a boy in order to sign up for the British Air Service.  As the world plunges into war, their paths lead the two unlikely allies together.

When I read the teaser for Leviathan, I was all about the Clankers and their mechanical steam-powered monstrosities and I was more than a little skeptical about the fabricated animals of the Darwinists, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself loving Westerfeld’s descriptions of the various animals that the Darwinists have created, from Krakens that support their navy to the whale-like airship Leviathan.  Westerfeld’s creations are brought to life by brilliant illustrations throughout the book that really add to the story. I enjoyed both Alek and Deryn, not to mention the supporting cast and the world that Westerfeld creates.  My one complaint (and it’s more personal preference than anything) is that it really felt like this was the first act in a larger story and didn’t leave me really satisfied at the end.  That said, I have the sequel sitting on my desk right now and can’t wait to read it.

Leviathan is hands down the best young adult steampunk novel I’ve come across and it serves as a great introduction to the genre for anyone.  I think there’s a lot to love here for girls (there are two strong and engaging female characters), but I would especially recommend this to boys, even if they’re not big readers already.  A good read for sure.

Book Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

October 17, 2011 § 8 Comments

Stardust tells the story of Tristran Thorn, from the small village of Wall who ventures over border into the land of Faerie in search of a fallen star with which he hopes to win the love of the most beautiful girl for miles around.  Things don’t go quite according to plan as Tristran learns that in the land of Faerie, fallen stars aren’t lumps of metal, but people–in this case a young woman–and she’s not too keen on being rushed off as the some boy’s trophy.  To complicate things further, Tristran isn’t the only person seeking the fallen star and his competition is rather deadly.

Before getting too far into this I have to say that while Stardust is marketed as a Young Adult fantasy novel, there’s a pretty explicit sex scene in the first chapter and a choice four letter world a little further on.  It makes my otherwise enthusiastic recommendation a bit reserved, especially for kids who are more “young” than “adult.”

Gaiman weaves another spectacular tale with Stardust, mixing a sense of wonder with the excitement of adventure and a great sense of humor reminiscent of The Princess Bride.  It’s got magic and love and unicorns and talking trees and airships.  There is a lot to love here, though the action seemed to peak a little beyond the halfway point, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book it was more of a pleasant stroll than a rollercoaster ride.

Stardust is a good read and fairly easy.  I’d especially recommend it to adults who enjoy reading Young Adult, though as I mentioned before, I hesitate to recommend it to kids.

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