The booksellers at R.J. Julia in Madison are ready for The Hunger Games. They have an extensive display all set up, they're planning a book party for Thursday, March 22, and a Teens Talk Books special event has been scheduled at the store for the following Thursday, March 29.
In nearby Westbrook, CT, The Marquee Cinemas by noon Monday had already sold out more than half of the tickets for the first showing, which will be just after midnight Thursday at 12:01 a.m. Tickets can be purchased online, but must be picked up at the cinemas. If you can't make it to, or can't get tickets to, the first showing, there will be plenty of other viewing times this coming weekend.
At R.J. Julia, Kid's Lead Bookseller Kathy Sharp says she can't wait to see the movie, but she recommends that people finish the book first.
Better to have the background first
"It's so much better to read it first and get all the insight into the characters," she said. "It's so much better to have the background knowledge."
That said, she is excited about the movie opening, saying it reminds her of other recent openings for blockbuster books, including the Twilight and Harry Potter series. "It's so great to see all of this excitement."
Already, more than 50 people have signed up for The Hunger Games Movie Bash at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. As of Monday morning, Sharp says there is still room for more. "We want to pack the house," she says. Anyone who is interested should register online at www.rjjulia.com or over the phone at 203-245-3959.
Tickets selling fast at Marquee Cinemas in Westbrook
Meanwhile, the Marquee Cinemas in Westbrook are also preparing for a big crowd that night. Monday around noon, Assistant Manager Mike Kravet, of North Branford, was selling several tickets to Lynn Pandiani of Old Saybrook, CT, who was picking them up for her 17-year-old daughter and three of her daughter's friends.
Pandiani said her daughter is an avid reader and devoured all three installments of the trilogy. "She read each one in order, and couldn't wait for the next one," she said. "She's really looking forward to the movie."
Kravet said tickets are quickly selling out for the first showing at just after midnight Thursday at 12:01 a.m. Friday, but that Marquee Cinemas expects to have two theatres running the movie all day long for at least the first couple of weeks.
A boost for dystopian drama, and for Battle Royale
Kravet said the theatre expects as many as four hundred to five hundred people to see it when it opens. He said he understands the excitement. He too loved reading the books. "I read the first two and I'm waiting for my girlfriend to finish the third so I can start it," he said.
R. J. Julia's Sharp said The Hunger Games has whetted readers' appetites for what is now being called "dystopia drama," books that venture to paint a picture of the future after an apocalyptic event that ends the world as we know it. She said R. J. Julia has stocked several of those series for fans who have finished The Hunger Games Triology, by Suzanne Collins, and want more. She said she has several recommendations for anyone who is interested.
Kravet, likewise, said movie goers are seeking out similar fare as well. In this case, however, many movie afficianados who are looking forward to The Hunger Games are hearkening back to a movie called Battle Royale, which is being released Tuesday, March 20 along with Battle Royale II as part of a complete collection. The IGN Movies site says:
"Battle Royale takes place in a dystopian alternate universe where, each year, a select group of young students is given weapons and pitted against one another on an island. The "winner" of the Battle Royale contest is the game's sole survivor. Needless to say, the film is about as bleak and horrific as they come, while also being extraordinarily entertaining all at the same time."
Sound familiar? Yup. Is The Hunger Games the same as Battle Royale? Not exactly, some say. For one thing, Kravet says, Battle Royale is much more violent than The Hunger Games, which in and of itself has enough action to merit a PG-13 rating. Battle Royale has a "more adult spin," Kravet says.
"Crazy fun here"
Like Sharp, Kravet is really looking forward to the opening of The Hunger Games. He said it reminds him of the excitement surrounding Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, and Lord of the Rings.
"It's great. Everyone gets dressed up," he said. "We're expecting it to be crazy fun here."
The week after the movie opens, more fun is scheduled for fans of The Hunger Games at R.J. Julia, says Sharp.
Teens Talk Books event will also focus on The Hunger Games and similar books
"We have a Teens Talk Books scheduled," she said. The event is scheduled for Thursday, March 29, at 6:30 p.m. Teens are welcome to attend and talk about The Hunger Games, or any other book in the dystopian drama genre, Sharp said.
"That's the big genre right now. Not vampires anymore. Not as much paranormal. Hunger Games has been pushing this whole new genre. It's all about, if the world ends, how would we go on?"
The genre, and The Hunger Games specifically, has even generated a parody, Sharp said, called The Hunger Pains.
Not sure if the movie, The Hunger Games, is right for your young child? After it is released, check out the review on Kids-In-Mind, the movie review site for parents who care about what their kids watch.
Haven't read the books? Not sure what it's all about? Check out this primer from The Calgary Herald. It says author Suzanne Collins was inspired by "the Greek myth of Theseus, reality TV and the Iraq war."
Having a Hunger Games event? Check out this article from Shine on Hunger Game-appropriate recipes that include ingredients such as goat cheese, apples and "squirrel."