On its opening night, The Hunger Games grossed a record $19.7 million for the midnight showing, a record for a non-sequel midnight openings. No doubt, it’s no coincidence that a Battle Royale Blu-Ray collectors’ edition has been released recently on March 20th. Comparisons are unavoidable, but are they fair and warranted? The two movies share the same fundamental premise: teenagers forced into a fight to the death by a totalitarian authority. The premise of forced combat is nothing new. From Kirk pitted against Spock in a classic Star Trek episode to the The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell, people forced to fight for their lives has been a recurring theme in fiction. Bloodlust-driven entertainment is nothing new. Whether live or fictionalized we’re had a hunger for it since gladiatorial Rome.
In a recent NY Times article, Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, reports that she didn’t know of Battle Royale until after her book was published. It would appear that two key factors contributed its popularity. Throughout the recent decade young adult literature has been on the rise from Harry Potter to Twilight. Couple that with a zeitgeist of doom and gloom as evidenced by the TV show, Doomsday Preppers, and an upswing in predictions of the end of the world in our near future and you have the right environment for the commercial success of a dystopian novel focused on teenagers.
Nonetheless, The Hunger Games has been criticized as an Americanized imitation of Battle Royale.
In this week’s ComicBooked podcast, available now, we discuss the two movies and weigh in on the debate. Who triumphs: Katniss and Peeta or Shuya and Noriko? Or do they belong in their own distinct arenas? Join Jeremy, InfaPlat and yours truly as we do battle in our podcast arena and catch up with a recent review of The Hunger Games.