Discussion: Hollywood After Harry Potter

Discussion: What will fill the void Harry potter and Twilight leave when their franchises end?

Years ago, we embarked on a journey with a young boy who was physically marked for a destiny of wizardry prowess. We’ve seen his very popular book series come to life as Daniel Radcliffe led us on a journey through a mystical school of wizardry, complete with a mystical score composed by John Williams. In a sense, we’ve almost grown up with him: we’re both coming of age at about the same time. Seven books and seven movies later, the J.K Rowling’s saga finally ends—the saga of none other than Harry Potter. Even though though the magical revenue stream from “Pottermore” may continue to flow for the author and book publishers, Hollywood will have nothing left to do with the “boy who lived”. He’s not alone, however. Joining this saga-ending party is Twilight, another series of young adult fantasy books Hollywood made into a very profitable, cult-status series of movies. The vampire romance, intertwined with the wiles of wolf-men and others, has drawn in fanatic crowds at every release and, like Harry, has an audience that has grown with the characters. Hollywood has big shoes to fill in their absence. What can fill this void for the next generation of young adults? What will be the next sweeping storyline to capture their hearts? What series dare accept the challenge to be everything Harry and Edward ever were? Enter The Hunger Games by Suzzane Collins.

The Hunger Games story is spread across three books: (1) The Hunger Games; (2) Catching Fire; and (3) Mockingjay. It possesses a multitude of the same attributes, characters and story elements that made Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga so popular.That being said, it is still different enough to bring the fans of these two franchises back to the movie house while attracting an entirely new young adult fan base to milk. I will not tell the story of Hunger Games here—it’s best to read the books—but I will make my best case for why The Hunger Games trilogy will be the ‘next big thing’ to come out of Hollywood.

In the Harry Potter series, Harry has been told since he entered Hogwarts that he is special and that he is the “boy who lived”. So, when someone (or everyone) is in trouble, all turn to him to save the day. In short, he is widely recognized as the obvious hero, even if he doesn’t know it yet. In The Hunger Games series, our main character Katniss is a tough starving young woman who has family that she will do anything for, even volunteering to fight to the death in the Hunger Games a ploy created to suppress rebellion to save her younger sister. She, like Harry, does not consider herself to be a hero. Rather, she believes her purpose is to survive to help her family.

In the Twilight series, we have a group of vampires who are different than the rest who go against tradition and in their own way rebel against the ruling class of vampires. In The Hunger Games our mentor is a drunken “fool” named Haymitch who finds himself working against the status quo and helping his two young charges, Katniss and Peeta, survive “The Hunger Games”. We find a similar mentor-like character in the for of Dumblerdorf from the Harry Potter storyline.

Harry Potter also has many friends who help him, some of whom die for him so he can be the hero everyone believes he is. Like Harry, Katniss has friends, like her costume designer and a fellow hunger games player, who help her rebel against the status quo even if she had no intention to. Her two greatest friends are Gale and Peetra. Gale is a few years older then her and has been her hunting partner for many years. Peeta is a young boy who is her own age, and is the boy chosen by her district to fight in the games. At the beginning of the games he confesses his love for her. Katniss has these two men who have protected her in their own way and, ultimately, she has to make a decision between Gale and Peetra. This bears great resmblance to the love triangle that has become so popular in The Twilight Saga, where Bella has to choose between Jacob and Edward. Hopefully the movies will give the audience the entire story of her choices and reasoning as laid out in the series.

The Hunger Games Trilogy contains a lot of the same plot fodder that has captivated Harry Potter and Twilight fans for so many years and, for this reason, I am confident that this movie series will be a success. One of the best parts of the story is the color and garishness of the story. The way Suzzane describes the colors and costumes worn by the characters is amazing. One of the things I am looking forward to is how Gary Ross the director of the film brings those colors and costumes to life on the big screen. The young actors who play our three main characters Katniss, Peetra, and Gale are relatively unknown, however they will be thrust into fame just like those who played in Twilight and Harry Potter when this film is released.

The Hunger Games are available at all bookstores and on Amazon’s Kindle store. I would recommend buying the books now and reading them before the film comes out next year, March 23, 2012.

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