China doesn't allow a lot of foreign-made films to grace its theaters, but Lionsgate is convinced that its highly anticipated "Hunger Games" will be among them.
That's good news, especially since you won't even be able to read about "Hunger Games" on Airlock Alpha if you live in China.
Lionsgate is depending on a big opening for "Hunger Games," especially since the studio lost millions of dollars in the most recent financial quarter. The studio has virtually put all of its eggs in the "Hunger Games" basket, and getting distribution rights in China with its more than 1 billion residents will help push up the international returns of the film.
"Hunger Games" is based on the novels written by Suzanne Collins and directed at a young adult audience. It was first published in 2008 and became an fast bestseller, with two more books shared, and movie rights sold to Lionsgate a short time later.
Unlike J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter films, Collins will be quite involved in the film production. She is adapting the screenplay herself for the film, which will be directed by Gary Ross. It stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale. Lawrence was Mystique in the recent "X-Men: First Class," while Hutcherson appeared in "Zathura," "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and the upcoming remake "Red Dawn."
Hemsworth is the brother of Chris Hemsworth, who played Capt. Kirk's father in "Star Trek" as well as the title role in "Thor." He appeared in 2009's "Knowing" and is filming for "The Expendables 2."
Because of the audience "Hunger Games" will be looking to reach in theaters, the rating is not expected to drift above a PG-13, and Lionsgate is planning a heavy merchandising effort to accompany the movie. However, this might hit some problems since March will be just after Christmas when such sales are typically slower. However, Lionsgate is using Striker Entertainment for its merchandising, the same company that handles Twilight merchandising, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Picking up China can be great news for "Hunger Games," although it may require some editing. The government does not have a ratings system for films, thus each film released has to conform to all audiences. Even films that get approved sometimes have to cut content, typically for political reasons.
Films that are not released in China officially end up becoming a part of the DVD black market in the country. The counterfeiting is so widespread that a film like "Hunger Games" could lose millions of dollars in potential overseas receipts.
Whether the entire trilogy gets made depends solely on how well Lionsgate can produce and distribute a solid movie. In fact, the studio is depending on this film to single-handedly turn around its woes, and become a box office juggernaut in the same vein as the Harry Potter and Twilight series.
The film is set for a March release.
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