Critics, Box Office, and Mockingjay Part 2

The opening weekend of Mockingjay Part 2 is in full swing, and the reactions to the film have been very interesting. Fans seem happy with it on the whole. We all have our things that we wish were included or changed, but all in all it seems like the fans are pleased because this is a solid, faithful adaptation of the book. We got to see this story end in a way that is true and respectful to the source material and the important themes we value.

297A9B5D00000578-3117094-image-m-29_1433866860839Movie critics have been mixed. Some have really loved it, some liked it, but some are on the way other extreme calling it a major disappointment. The reasons why some critics have panned the movie offer an intriguing look into expectations of blockbuster movies, and the Hunger Games movies themselves. They say it’s too bleak, somber, gray, slow. It also seems like they were expecting some kind of exciting battle at the end, for Katniss to lead the rebels to triumphant glory of a new day in Panem.

As fans of the books, we knew not to expect that, and frankly the fact that there ISN’T a triumphant final battle and Katniss doesn’t go on to some glorious future of power, wealth and fame is what really hits home to us. An ending like that would have been a complete fairy tale and out of step with what these stories are trying to teach. But we understand the surprise that there isn’t one here. The story structure that the negative critics expected is as old as time. It’s one that appeals to people because of its extreme fantasy. You fight the brave fight and win and all is well.

We all know Mockingjay doesn’t portray the struggle in such a simplistic or clean way. Mockingjay Part 2 may be a PG-13 war movie, but it’s a war movie that doesn’t gloss over the ugliness of war. It doesn’t pretend that there’s anything glorious about the violence and destruction of war. That these things are arbitrary, unfair, and cruel. That discerning from “good” and “bad” actions are impossibly difficult. There’s a subtlety and lack of easy answers. AND WE LOVE THAT ABOUT THIS STORY.

The fact this film doesn’t offer a massively fun, popcorn chomping Hunger Games-y time may also be a reason why this film will open domestically as the lowest of the four movies. It’s still expected to rake in $100 million plus this weekend, plus a massive amount overseas, so without doubt this movie will still make everyone involved a nice pile of cash. The pile just won’t be so obscenely big this time. For fans though, whether this movie just makes A LOT of money versus A SHIT TON is moot.  It’s about having a film that met OUR expectations, and it looks like we got it.

The desire for panem et circenses persists, but we’re happy that the popularity of the franchise is getting lots of people to see this film. It’s good to see something different from the movies sometimes.

Now go remind the normals to see this movie.



The Hunger Games Set, Jetted

Thanks to a little getaway this week, I fell a bit behind on my Hunger Games stalking.

Particularly, I missed that big “Jet To The Set” special. But DVRs are a wonderful thing and I caught up.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we understand why this “Hunger Games special” was hidden away on a little-known station that’s most consistent feature is soap opera re-runs. As we’d feared, this really wasn’t much. Clearly, the idea for this special was conceived after filming already stopped. There were some good elements, though, so let’s break it down. Here’s what we saw:

1) Quick interviews with Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth
It’s always a positive to hear from the cast and really, this is the first video-based promotional interviews we’ve seen so far. But this part of the special was way shorter than we’d hoped.

Pretty building, but we've seen it before, folks!

Pretty building, but we’ve seen it before, folks!

2) Empty set locations
Ehhh… This wasn’t so much “Jet To The Set” as “Walk into empty spaces where the glorious set used to be”. It was basically the equivalent of going on an unofficial fan tour, except you weren’t there in person. Yes, the building are set pretty but it’s not quite the same as seeing them in action.

3) A rich white woman dressing up like Effie Trinket
The irony does not escape us. Also lady, you’re about the millionth person in the world to dress up as Effie Trinket and you’re not a trendsetter, even with professional makeup backgrounds in your corner.

Proof that interviews actually happened!

Proof that interviews actually happened!

4) NeNe Leakes
We got significantly more of this Real Housewives of Atlanta star than we did Jen or Liam, which says a lot about how trivial this special was. Yes, she’s from Atlanta and she can talk about Atlanta but man, we couldn’t get anyone related to the series to talk about what they did out there? Really?!

So, we’re feeling a little disheartened. The Hunger Games is a big deal and we think it deserves a big, glorious send-off with a proper TV special that actually celebrates the series itself. Instead, we got this. Now, we can only hope that the interviews and promotion yet to come will renew our faith!

You Can’t Always Get Whatcha Want…
The Girl With The Pearl

Goodbye (And Good Riddance) To Capitol Couture

A Hunger Games marketing staple has come to an end. Yesterday, Lionsgate released the final issue of Capitol Couture titled ULTIMA VOLATUS (which means “Final Flight”, if you were curious).

And all we’ve got to say is SAYONARA SUCKAAAA!

We’re totally cool with in-world advertising, but Capitol Couture grated on our every nerve. It’s a fashion feature that glorifies the story’s villains and ignorant oppressors while adding in a few scraps here and there that relate back to the characters we actually care about. Sure, it’s stylish and pretty, but meaningfulness to The Hunger Games franchise and its fans is at about 30%.

For instance, ULTIMA VOLATUS has a photo shoot and fashion bits, a story in which Capitol citizens comment on Katniss, and an article on “Revolution styles”… because apparently the Capitol appreciates the revolution and its style now?!

When the very first issue dropped pre-Catching Fire with loads of district styles, we read through it all, but we were cautious even then. When fans, including us, began to express worry that the campaign was too Capitol and a little ignorant to the story, BuzzFeed suddenly released an article explaining why the campaign was BRILLIANT that just screamed “Somebody paid us to write this” (though we don’t have official confirmation, don’t sue us). That was the day that damn fashion side piece became the bane of our existence.

Occasionally, we did get new stills in the mix and new stills are ALWAYS appreciated, but the rest of it? The in-character interviews were vaguely amusing but without substance, and everything else just felt like a perfectly good waste of time and resources. And here it stands, more than two years later, when so many other interesting features and official websites were left to fade and die. Yikes.

This might be the one part of The Hunger Games franchise that we’re genuinely happy to say goodbye to. It means we’ll spend the few weeks left in the campaign focusing on the movies for real!

Also, SURGE AND SWELL? Is this a porno?!
The Girl With The Pearl

Jetting To The Hunger Games Set

Finally, The Hunger Games franchise is getting a major television specials that will promote the film and perhaps attract the attention of new audiences!

But not really.

See, we’re a sucker for big TV events that highlight popular projects. We’ve sat down for many a pop culture special that delves behind the scenes of a movie franchise or musical act, so long as it gives us something new to quip about our favorites. They are eight thousand percent better than 3-minute segments on gossip news shows any day of the week.

So when we heard about Jet to the Set: The Hunger Games, we were actually pretty psyched. But, my fellow tributes, the devil is in the details. And the details have Lionsgate cockblocking their own franchise.

As you may know, Lionsgate also has a handful of TV stations to its name. One of them is the POP! channel– formerly the TV Guide Network, which is probably one of the reasons you’ve probably never heard of it. The other is that the channel features mostly re-runs of older shows, including a soap opera block on weekday evenings, cushioned slightly by movies you might watch if there’s reeeeeally nothing else on TV.


Should Lionsgate be excited to get some prime original programming that may attract more views to POP! ? Sure. However, they’re also actively screwing themselves over because so few people are going to know its there. If this aired on a major network, thousands of fans and curious passerbys could watch. Maybe it would even entice new viewers (they’d be massively late to the game, but IT HAPPENS.) Instead, only a limited number of fans will know– the ones who check The Hunger Games official social media and fansites often enough that they see the news and make plans to 1) find the channel (182 for Comcast New England customers. You’re welcome!) and 2) watch it. Even the more casual fans will be in the dark.

But there’s another part making us itch too– The special, hosted by Entertainment Tonight’s Carly Steele and “Hollywood insider” Laurie Feltheimer (if that name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s married to Jon Feltheimer, the CEO of Lionsgate) will be “providing the ultimate insider look at what’s hot and what’s not in Atlanta”.

Look, we’re sure Atlanta is awesome. we’ve never been, but we’d go and explore a city like that in a heartbeat. And if you want to briefly feature the cast talking about the places they love in Atlanta, AWESOME. But this sounds like we’re gonna be pulling away from the Hunger Games highlights to advertise the city. If I wanted to figure out what’s hot and what’s not in a city on TV, I’ll watch the Travel Channel, thanks!

We’ll figure out what it’s really all about Thursday, October 29th at 9pm. Or maybe the next day depending on how sleepy we are.

Just Call This Epix Part Deux,
The Girl With The Pearl

Mockingjay Is SO Down With The Kids

Thanks to the power of social media, The Hunger Games fans have been able to keep up with Mockingjay Part 2 promotion from all over the world. Most recently, the official Mockingjay UK Twitter account has gathered a lot of attention for its latest Mockingjay ploy: DubSmash.

We don’t use DubSmash, but thanks to off-screen Marvel television cast “wars”, we have an idea what the app does. It’s essentially soundboard app with which you record yourself lipsyncing to popular songs or movie quotes. And The Hunger Games is now part of the soundboard.

We’re not saying there’s no fun in this. It’s good, silly fun! We partake in silly funs sometimes too! All fandoms have a bit of that, though usually it’s a natural occurrence among fans and not something marketers promote for an action drama franchise.

The more important question is… What audience are they trying to reel in? Between the Facebook stickers and Snapchat and now DubSmash, we have one message for Mockingjay Part 2 marketing teams worldwide:


SnapChat and DubSmash: Advertising is legit as a District 13 make-up job!

SnapChat and DubSmash: Advertising as legit as a District 13 make-up job!

You know who really loves and supports The Hunger Games and has done so all along? Teens and younger 20-somethings. You know who you’re gearing all your advertising dollars toward? The people who will watch the movie and fangirl it without you proving you totes understand their love of smartphones.

Sure, it could be argued that the marketers are giving back to the fans. But really, they’re only giving back to a small slice of them. The fansite types we know are all in their mid-twenties or older, and really, we were over all the marketing ploys mentioned above before they even started.

Come November, we know pre-teens to the college-aged crowd are pretty much a lock. They have been since around the time Catching Fire. Now, how the heck are you gonna convince everyone else to see the movie? The fact is, marketers need to care about interesting the outliers too, because a truly successful movie needs to attract a really wide audience. If you’re narrowing your advertising down to impress only a portion of the people you’ve already impressed, how does that help the film? How does they convince the hesitant adult to gather up some interest in the series?

We just ask, THG marketers— lovingly, kindly– that you have your fun, but also grow up a bit. We’re kidults at best. Just get on our level!

The Girl With The Pearl

Trying to Unsee the C Word

This week marked 100 days until Mockingjay Part 2 comes out. Which is important for people who give special meaning to time when it hits nice round numbers. Lionsgate acknowledged the countdown with this edit of Katniss’s character poster.

100 daysWe saw it when it was released and didn’t think anything of it. Well, we actually thought, “100 Days until Mockingjay Part 2… Could we mark this with some actual news please?” and then moved along with our lives, because there was nothing else released that day.

Then a few days later, we notice this E! Online posting.

We took a look. We squinted. Didn’t notice anything. Squinted some more at the left side of her nose.


Oopsie. Our immediate reaction was a bout of huge laughter, cause it’s pretty clear that this was just a case of unfortunate type placement, and we’re confident it was accidental and not some rogue designer trying to pull a fast one. Since it wasn’t created with ill intent, it’s just hilarious. We’ve never considered the dangerous consequences of breaking into a “0” with the word “until.” And once you notice it, YOU CAN’T UNSEE IT. Sorry. You’ll never look at it with innocent eyes again.

We know the internet LOVES stuff like this, so this little graphic that only the fandom was every going to notice gets posted everywhere. Soooo, bright side, the 100 Days Until Mockingjay Part 2 message gets more buzz, just with an embarrassing twist to it. (Lionsgate had already pulled the it from their social sites as of at least Friday afternoon).

I can be a critical person about flubs, but I feel a certain amount of empathy to the designer and people who reviewed this before release. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in the larger design that you don’t stop to squint at it through all the angles. When you’re releasing loads of edits like this, something is bound to happen. It’s not like it’s a theatrical movie poster with a mockingjay beak sticking out of the heroine’s neck or something.

Chins up, smiles on, and let’s move on to the next promo.


Quenching Capitol Curiosity

Entertainment Weekly promised us “intel” on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 in the teaser for their Fall Movie preview double issue and they shelled it out today!

The piece doesn’t get too in depth– which hopefully means we’ll be getting some in depth articles closer to the release of the film (but no promises since Lionsgate essentially nixed the entire print campaign for Mockingjay Part 1)– but it talks a bit about putting together the Capitol. And we learned a few things!

For instance, Francis Lawrence and the gang made full blueprints of the Capitol to get a feel for the layout. And it’s mostly just Paris but with some fun twists as an homage to the city where they shot most of the Capitol scenes.




The architecture of the Capitol has gone from brutalist to Stalinist. The Soviet Era style honestly seems pretty close to brutalism, but it’s a little edgier and probably helps convey the narcissistic vibe of the citizens a little better.



Aaaaand set designers didn’t really think ahead, therefore creating more work for themselves than at all necessary:



So we didn’t get too much this time around. But included on that first page was a nice little still that we reeeeeally wish we could find without the captions:



We can’t help but wonder… Is it us? Why can’t we revel in an Entertainment Weekly piece with a new still and a few details? Is it that our attention span is too small or that the details are too little? We’re three months away from the movie! Patience is a virtue, but any fandom will you it’s certainly not a requirement. Either way, here’s hoping the studio wises up about print campaigns for this film and we get some articles that really delve into the story, the characters, and the on-set experience for the final film in the franchise!

The Girl With The Pearl

Things We Learned From The Mockingjay Part 2 Comic-Con Panel

After catching up with life and the rest of Comic-Con– because holy hell, guys, there was so much win at Comic-Con this year!— we’re finally ready to talk about that Mockingjay Part 2 panel and all its glorious moments.

If you haven’t yet (where have you been?!), watch the panel below:

And now, the lessons begin!

1. Conan O’Brien ain’t responsible for those questions!

Poor Conan! The questions he was given to ask the cast didn’t seem at all organic and contained lengthy chunks of backstory, so he kept having to throw in jokes about how he didn’t write the questions. Describing Peeta as “not Katniss’ biggest fan” after exposition about his whole situation in front of fans who clearly know the books? We’d do the same damn thing, Coco! Of course, it did result in constantly reminding fans just how staged that panel was and that’s certainly a pitfall.

2. Liam Hemsworth is slowly but surely developing a sense of humor!

You know how there are several variations of this meme?


There’s a reason Liam is always Squidward. It’s not that he didn’t has a sense of humor, he just doesn’t always come across that way. Maybe it’s the post-Miley era or maybe it’s just meeting up with old friends, but Liam was actually funny this time! He cracked jokes, he whistled the wrong theme, he giggled when fan’s swooned at him. Hopefully, this means good things for the press madness this fall!

3. Jen still thinks the reference to her nephew as a toastbaby is a spoiler!

Jen slipped and mentioned Josh playing with her nephew, Josh tried to cover it up by pretending the baby was just hangin’ around during epilogue filming. Like we don’t know better! It’s okay Jen, gush totally and completely about your adorable nephews like any auntie does! We all know what happens at the end of the book. Still, Josh’s attempt to cover it all up was quite endearing!

4. We are genuinely embarrassed by some fan Twitter handles!

Your Twitter handle is all yours… riiiight up until you include someone else’s name and make it awkward. Most Hunger Games related handles are referential without being weird, but HemsworthsHugs and Hutcherwife in there totally got the cast weirded out. And suddenly everyone who knows better than that felt awkward too. I actually facepalmed and groaned a little at the latter. Please don’t let these stars think this is representative of the whole fandom! Most of us are normal and not stalking you, we swear!

5. Katniss Everdeen is the new face of the Rhythm Nation!

JJ already covered the new “Stand With Us” propo. It was interesting, but don’t worry– the Internet made it better by making it exactly what we were all thinking just shortly after Miss Janet Jackson announced her upcoming world tour! It only took one of the staffer to post this (and about six more hours for a larger entertainment site to steal the idea and make their own).

Side note: We keep thinking of this scene from Across The Universe. We’re not saying it inspired the propo, but the two are now linked in our minds via dancing hardcore soldiers.

6. We’ve had a lot to talk about on Twitter!

According to data from the social media site, the Mockingjay Part 2 panel was THE MOST discussed event at Comic-Con via their social media outlet. Not Star Wars, not Batman v. Superman.. THE HUNGER GAMES. Daaaaamn guys, you must’ve had a lot to say.

7. We’re the only suckers who refuse to leak full trailers!

Not that we blame any of you Comic-Con attendees, of course! The Hunger Games is, in general, a very respectful fandom. They tell you not to record, you don’t record. At least the video. The audio is floating around the Internet. Also, we haven’t been to SDCC, but we’ve been to other cons that monitor the audience like hawks to make sure you’re not recording. Yeesh, it’s intimidating! But as leaks for Deadpool and Suicide Squad and X-Men: Apocalypse hit, we couldn’t help but think “DAMMIT! There wasn’t one asshole in that room willing to attempt it?!” We recognize that it’s purely selfish and we’ll get the trailer soon enough, but still we want the trailer even if we don’t expect the trailer. It’s Fandom 101!

Until Next SDCC– Oh Wait.. *sob*
The Girl With The Pearl

A Snaphat Update From The Mockingjay

Oh hai, red Mockingjay suit! We heard you’d be coming soon!

We must admit, we were somewhere between horrified and embarrassed when we saw this yesterday:

To be clear, we don’t hate Snapchat. It’s great for sending out images and short videos of funny faces and landscapes and adorable pets and “No seriously, there’s someone walking down the street wearing THAT.” But we hate Snapchat as a promotional tool. It guarantees that everything will be short and choppy. That damn timer will be in every screencap forever until the studio deems fit to put it online elsewhere– and WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST DO THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE?!

Not to mention that the app is most popular among tweens and teens, so you’re really hacking up your full audience reach for a major franchise there. Sure, it makes sense for The Duff or even the Divergent series, which tend to run and advertise a little younger on the whole. But really, you’ve got one big YA franchise with a steady adult reach and ignoring that in favor of the latest teen trend is… ugh.

Thankfully, the propo ended up online very shortly after the fact:

Our first thought was “Holy lousy special effects, Batman!” But really, that’s what you’d expect from District 13. They are not, in fact, cinematic experts. Their technology and skills DO NOT EQUAL quality imagery. And then there’s the voice over, which got annoying but works in the sense that it reminds us of a commercial. This “Katniss Everdeen must be the symbol of our glorious revolution!” isn’t really all that different from the overly enthusiastic Arby’s guy (Ving Rhames, if you didn’t know!) trying to get us to buy a sandwich. There’s a product to sell here– whether it’s revolution or brown sugar bacon– and dammit, SOMEONE has got to talk it up!

This style of advertising has its pros and cons. We’re not madly in love with the in-world takes on the story, but we know that’s a big draw for other fervent fans.

Then, of course, the propo was followed by the poster to end all character posters. Motherfuckin’ Katniss Everdeen on the motherfuckin’ throne!


Gah, we love this image. LOVE IT. There is nothing at all wrong with adding some color to the Mockingjay suit. The red against the all white background! Katniss’ resting bitch face! It’s deliriously perfect.

So Snapchat aside, today was a really interesting one for the fandom.

Can We Do It Again Tomorrow?!
The Girl With The Pearl

Friendly Fandom Tips for Conan O’Brien Before the Comic-Con Panel

conanThere’s good news – Mockingjay Part 2 will get some time in Hall H during San Diego Comic-Con for a Q&A with the cast and filmmakers. During the panel they’ll also release some exclusive footage that should make its way online… eventually. The big event will be moderated by Conan O’Brien, who definitely has lots of experience bringing the funny in front of large audiences. We just want it to be the right type of funny, good time. We’ll only get 30 minutes or so of our beloved franchise on the big stage. Please Conan, help us make the most of it!

So here you go Conan – we graciously present some tips to hosting a Mockingjay panel that will make THG fans love you forever.


  • Joke or ask questions about “Teams.” Just don’t. No Team Peeta/Team Gale/Team Buttercup/Team Anyone. No.
  • Bother mentioning how Peeta’s name sounds like bread. Fans own those jokes, and we ran through all the good ones by 2011. It’s over.
  • Same thing goes for the “Peeniss” ship name. That was fun in 2011 or if you’re currently 12, but we’ve moved on. It’s EVERLARK, cause after all they’ve been through, Katniss and Peeta deserve some dignity at this point.
  • Talk about height differentials among any of the cast.
  • Waste time asking questions about the past Hunger Games movies. We already saw those AND THERE’S NOT MUCH TIME. ALL MOCKINGJAY PART 2.
  • Let the Last Witch Hunter panel, which will inevitably run before Mockingjay during Lionsgate’s slot, run long.  Vin Diesel’s not a wordy guy. Keep it moving so we can get to the main event.


  • Know your stuff. (Re)read the books and (re)watch the movies before getting on that stage. We love people who do their research!
  • Add “real or not real” into one of the questions. Example: “Jennifer, you loved working with this cast, real or not real?”
  • On that note, ask about filming the REAL OR NOT REAL scene, or anything about Jennifer and Josh filming scenes together.  Get those two to joke around. We love that shit.
  • Make sure Francis Lawrence (and Nina Jacobson if she’s there) get some good questions. They may be “behind the scenes,” but they are universally loved by fans.
  • Ask about filming the epilogue scene (pssh, don’t worry about Lionsgate not wanting you to mention it, that will earn you 1 MILLION fandom points if you do. Nina Jacobson can tell you all about that).
  • Dress up like Caesar Flickerman. We would dig it. (But please keep the main spotlight on the cast & filmmakers. We don’t get an opportunity like this very often).

Any other tips for Conan? Put ‘em in the comments.