The novels of Suzanne Collins are now the latest bestselling set of books Hollywood became desperate to turn into a movie franchise, and we are about to see how "The Hunger Games" will perform both critically and financially. So far the reviews have been good, so now we wonder what kind of longevity this series will end up having.
Many bestselling books have made it to the big screen recently. It will serve the filmmakers of "The Hunger Games" (and its upcoming sequel "Catching Fire") to look at these examples very closely.
Now that all of J.K. Rowling's books about the boy wizard with the lightning scar have been adapted to the silver screen, we can look at the movie franchise overall. The first two films remained very faithful to the books but to a fault. Since the fans had read the books more than once, there were no surprises in store for them.
But when Alfonso Cuaron came on board to direct "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," liberties were taken with the material that helped make it and the films thereafter more cinematic. They also stayed true to how increasingly dark the stories became toward its excellent conclusion.
These movie adaptations worked so well because the filmmakers were as invested in the characters as they were in the spectacle of special effects. It also helped that they had terrific actors inhabiting these famous characters, and watching them evolve over the years made the movies all the more enjoyable.
The incredible success of the "Harry Potter" books could have easily been taken for granted, but it wasn't, thank goodness. This turned out to be one of the few film franchises that got better with each successive sequel.
Like "The Hunger Games," the movie adaptation of the first of Stephenie Meyer's fantasy vampire novels was heavily hyped long before its release. Critical reaction to it and the sequels, however, was pretty brutal ("New Moon" got hammered especially hard), but that never stopped audiences from flocking to theaters.
You do have to give Summit Entertainment a lot of credit here. They knew what demographic would see these movies, promoting them to where teenagers everywhere were compelled to see the flicks even if they hadn't read the books.
With the last movie of the franchise "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" coming out soon, we will see if critics are kind to its conclusion. "Breaking Dawn - Part 1" got some of the best reviews of the "Twilight" franchise, but even then reviewers weren't necessarily complimenting it by saying so.
As big as these movies have been, they won't have the longevity of the "Harry Potter" franchise because its core audience will eventually grow up and never look at these films the same way ever again. Ten years from now, they might just look back at the series and wonder what was so great about "Twilight" in the first place.
"Harry Potter" as a franchise will remain forever timeless thanks to how well-made the movies were and how the people making them really invested heavily in the stories and characters. "Twilight," on the other hand, is more of a flash in the pan riding high on the beautiful youth of its actors and the popularity of vampires.
Let's hope the filmmakers of "The Hunger Games" and its sequels look to "Harry Potter" more than "Twilight" as a series to emulate.
Other articles by Ben Kenber:
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- Harry Potter
- The Hunger Games