Catching Fire

Mockingjay Press Has Begun!

Over the last several years of covering all things and everything Hunger Games, there are a handful of things that always remain the same. Two of them are that when there’s no news, it’s like a desert wasteland. However, when there is Hunger Games news and/ or press, it’s like a crashing avalanche down a mountain side. I can’t keep track of all the press, and the announcements for press that have come out within the last couple of days! I know that the majority of the cast are in Europe in preparation for the world premiere of Mockingjay Part 1 this coming week in London. So when Liam and Jennifer show up on German television sans Josh, ’cause Josh is ill– I’m not in as much of a clamor as

Perfectly coiffed, and fresh from the ER, that's our Jen!

Perfectly coiffed, and fresh from the ER, that’s our Jen!

I maybe should be, ’cause if I am at level 100 on the excitement scale every single time these people show up on TV over the next few weeks, I think I’ll die of exhaustion, or an aneurism, take your pick. All that being said and done, if anything is like how it was last year during and after the whirlwind press for Catching Fire, the cast are going to be sick as dogs by the time they get to Los Angeles– and in perfect Jennifer Lawrence fashion, she’ll be whisked off to the emergency room with acute abdominal pains, then show up to the premiere looking coiffed, and refined in Chanel.

I suggest you start somewhere though, press coverage wise– because following it all as it unfolds is near impossible unless you spend your life on Twitter, or your phone– or both. Most of the top Hunger Games fan-site are keeping track of everything for us lazy lots though, so if you get lost– go here, and just start clicking! You can’t go wrong with watching a few of the interviews that have come out, or will be coming out, but mix it up a bit, because they are going to start repeating them selves, ’cause journalists have a tendency of asking them same questions over and over again. So if Josh Hutcherson starts to look glazed over, and not just from the fevered illness he’s already infected with, and he starts sounding incredibly robotic, switch to something else! Like perhaps Jennifer Lawrence drawing horses on cakes.

Pace your selves guys! And remember to hydrate. BTW, props to Jen for still doing press while she feels like death warmed over!

Them There Eyes

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Record-Breaking Mockingjay Part 1

Mockingjay Part 1 tickets are now on sale and breaking records again. But will the opening weekend surpass Catching Fire? Will the overall film gross surpass it? Don’t worry, there are people who meticulously follow all this and love to announce their projections. Initial tracking has come out, and it’s similar to Catching Fire at this same time last year – about $130 million. Catching Fire ended up with a $158 million US open and prognosticators think there’s still ample time for Lionsgate to flood all media with MOCKINGJAY MOCKINGJAY MOCKINGJAY so that EVERYONE sees the movie opening weekend and potentially matches/surpasses that number.

mj katnissMockingjay Part 1 faces a challenge in matching Catching Fire’s gross because there are no IMAX (or 3D) showings which have higher ticket prices. So if they DO surpass Catching Fire’s opening weekend, it will be due to many more tickets sold this time. In any case, it’s very likely that Mockingjay Part 1 will have the largest US opening of the year, because it’s been a weak year in movie openings. But with next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron on the horizon, this is probably the last year for our beloved movies to win that crown. So we want Mockingjay Part 1 to go big.

Lionsgate executives are on record saying they anticipate Mockingjay Part 1 will surpass Catching Fire’s worldwide box office, but that growth will probably have to come from international markets considering the HUGE domestic box office for Catching Fire, and no IMAX tickets this time. It’s just hard to imagine topping $425 million domestic. It would probably also help if the movie was mind-blowingly awesome, but we have faith in Francis & Co. And all those trailers and tv spots make us feel as good as we possibly could about that at this point.

So what, you say? Why should we care, other than bragging rights that the thing we love so much is successful? Well, for fans I think it means PREPARE FOR MEDIA ONSLAUGHT OF EVERYTHING MOCKINGJAY. Yes, the time is here. TV spots, interviews, premieres, billboards, banner ads, Doritos bags. It’s time for Mockingjay saturation-level infinite, if those records are gonna be broken.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

JJ

 

 

It’s #HungerGamesWeekend Movie Marathon Time

It’s a cool and rainy evening in my part of the world, the perfect evening to stay in and watch movies until you fall asleep on the couch. If you live in the US and have cable, you can do that with the Hunger Games movie tonight on ABC Family (or all throughout the weekend). It’s Hunger Games Weekend y’all. You can watch it again and again for the cost of your cable subscription.

If you’re like me and have digital, online, and or Blu-Ray/DVD copies of the movie, you may opt to watch it without all those commercials. Or, I don’t know, maybe those commercials could add to the experience. IT’S ALMOST LIKE YOU REALLY LIVE IN THE CAPITOL! Imagine that. We really love you, Suzanne Collins.

And if you’re in some countries like the UK or Canada, you can watch Catching Fire on Netflix now. It comes to Netflix US on October 22, as I keep reminding my co-workers who haven’t seen the movie yet. (Yes, there are people who STILL haven’t seen it. Weird)

We’re now 6 weeks from Mockingjay Part 1. SIX WEEEEEKS. And while we wait for the drizzle of promotion to turn into a full-on hurricane of awesome, it seems like the perfect time for a movie marathon. So depending on your country and media access, pick your preferred method, watch away, and feel all the feels again.

It’s one of the many ways of preparing for November.

JJ

Spine Spoilers, Story Secrets, And Whether It Still Matters

Victor’s Village has never been a spoiler-free zone. In fact, we relish in our spoiler discussion. It’s pretty freakin’ awesome ’round here! However, when it comes to most of the media covering the Hunger Games outside fandom-related websites and forums, we’d still like to think most sites and media outlets are relatively spoiler-free. It’s not that they won’t discuss or hint, but they’ll probably give a warning so you’re not diving into unwanted information. That way, someone who finally, FINALLY decides to delve into the series can have a relatively fresh start and experience everything the same way many of us did: Laughing, crying, gasping, and otherwise freaking out because

WHAT THE HELL WAS HAPPENING?!

But that seems to be changing.

Imagine the facepalming that ensued when Crystal from Jabberyjays.net pointed out the brand new Scholastic UK editions of the series, complete with a major spoiler right on the spine of the Mockingjay cover:
HUNGER-GAMES-BOOKS

Quick note that we love these covers! Between them and the luxury editions in Australia and New Zealand, our jealousy of foreign editions grows by the day.

But effectively, Scholastic is spoiling their own damn series for newbies. I know it’s hard to believe that people with little knowledge still exist, especially with the success of the films, but THEY’RE OUT THERE, MAN. Sure, the District 12 line was at the end of the Catching Fire movie, but not everyone saw (or paid attention) to that, necessarily. So if you’ve only seen or read Book One and you see that Mockingjay spine, you can safely assume that a) District 12 gets obliterated or b) District 12 is a figment of Katniss’ imagination, the latter of which just seems too damn far fetched. Aaaaaand there’s a major plot point!

Do we wish they had read the books by now? YES. EVERYONE SHOULD BECAUSE THEY’RE AWESOME. Are we going to hate on them for considering the books a little later in the game by shaming them for probably not being much of a reader? NOT TODAY.

Still, at this point, it seems like the large majority of people are very well-read (or well-watched, should we say?) on at least a chunk of the series. As such, it seems like information that’s technically a spoiler gets released pretty nonchalantly these days, almost as if to say to outsiders “Well, if you wanted to discover this on your own sometime, too bad. It’s your own damn fault for not doing it sooner.”

It’s not just The Hunger Games, of course. For instance, I’ve never seen Game of Thrones, but I can give you a pretty solid synopsis of all the major plot points on Game of Thrones. And because of this, I strangely feel LESS compelled to ever catch up on the show despite friends raving about it. Sure, knowing and experiencing are two different things, but knowing does take some of the fun out of experiencing it all. There’s this feeling that I’m too far “behind” and un-surprised by in everything for it to really matter.

So even though a huge amount of people can practically quote The Hunger Games books and movies, there’s still some value to keeping things relatively spoiler-free when possible. Again, we don’t really expect this from fansites and forums because the whole purpose of them is to thoroughly cover the series, but blatant spoilers elsewhere are pretty sucky. Because who knows how many potential fans won’t bother trying to get into the series now that they’re learning too much?

Or Are We Too Hopeful That New Fans Will Still Arise?
The Girl With The Pearl

Reaction Post: Mockingjay Part 1 Trailer

It’s that time again, that time where the bloggers of Victor’s Village sit down at our respective computers, and chew the fat about the trailers, and in this case it’s the final trailer for Mockingjay Part 1! Yep, the one we’ve been waiting for for about four months!

 

WHERE SOUND OF MUSIC REFERENCES ARE MADE WITHOUT SHAME OR IRONY
The Girl With The Pearl
: Okay, let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to staaaaaart!)

Them There Eyes: Sew… a needle pulling Katniss around like a marionette!

JJ: Katniss’s line is fantastic.

TGWTP: Katniss is talking, and there’s these nice shots of her and Prim and Gale… and then you realize she’s pretty much face-timing with President Snow?

JJ: A big new addition to the screenplay! Snow looks so fiendish there. It’s so unnerving.

TTE: Also Jennifer Lawrence has a Sexy Lauren Bacall voice, which is über important to note.

TGWTP: I’m not sure if I like them chatting. Doubt it will ruin the movie, but it felt weeeeeird. Though the Lauren Bacall voice IS lovely. (more…)

THG on TNT

While everyone has been busy with the very worthy cause of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (I’ll be doing mine soon!), some other exciting new has come our way… At least in America.

The Hunger Games is FINALLY coming to cable television!

Consider it the marriage of two fiery ring logos!

Consider it the marriage of two fiery ring logos!

After a predictable deal to air the series on ABC Family– the teen-friendly network that brings us the awesome joy of Harry Potter weekends– seems to have gone sour, cable television rights to The Hunger Games series (and the Divergent films) have gone to TNT.

TNT, for those who don’t know, is the “We know drama” network. They play a lot of syndicated and sometimes original shows and films that pride themselves on being high tension and action-packed. Only one of their original shows, SouthLAnd, was really worth its salt in our book, but they do well enough off the syndication to get solid ratings.

The Hunger Games is a surprising choice for TNT, whose shows seem to be geared toward the 40+ crowd. In comparison to a lot of their shows, The Hunger Games series is pretty light despite the death and political undertones. It’s less tedious and dull than their regular offerings, too, which offer up some action but not enough to make you really care.

Aaaaaand because ABC Family would probably cut moments like this.

Aaaaaand because ABC Family would probably cut moments like this.

But TNT ain’t no fools! YA sells big and will likely improve ratings by a landslide. Any network with a brain would capitalize on the franchise the way ABC Family has with Harry Potter and FX has with the Marvel superhero franchise. You know why? Because when a Harry Potter or Marvel marathon comes on cable TV during a lazy Sunday, PEOPLE WATCH ‘EM. A lot more people than your average episode of The Last Ship or another Law & Order re-run.

Of course, marathons are going to take some time because each movie will be introduced on a yearly basis beginning in Winter 2015. Not quite sure how it works in foreign nations, but it typically takes 3 years for a major film to hit a regular ol’ television network… We think that’s WAY TOO LONG, but what do we know? This schedule keeps things on par.

And will we waste numerous hours sitting around watching The Hunger Games and its follow-ups on television because they just happened to be on while we were unoccupied?
…Yes. Yes, we will.

Even Though We Have The DVD And Can Watch Without 8,000 Commercials At Any Time,
The Girl With The Pearl

Donald Sutherland Saves the Teen Choice Awards by Being THE BEST

We admit it. We may mock the Teen Choice Awards, but due to our addiction to everything in this fandom, we watch this award show for “teens,” even though we haven’t been teens for quite a few years.

Our fan hearts were happy early on, because Josh was there and he won and was his adorable, sexy self.  I think this calls for another picture of him in his moment of glory.

josh teen choice

 

But after he won, the show went majorly downhill. It’s okay, this show is not meant for us adult people. But I was debating turning the show off since Jennifer was not there and the only other category besides hers was “Best Villain” and no way Donald Sutherland was going to bother to…

WAIT

HOLD UP

Donald Sutherland is on the TV. Wearing a tux and a white rose.

Throwing berries to the audience.

Such a great (and badly needed) surprise. THANK YOU for saving the night. It’s these type of moments that make us really love the cast. When they take the time to play along with us fans. Donald Sutherland is an actor with a long, distinguished career who I doubt cares about winning a brightly painted surfboard. He didn’t need to take time out of his life to show up at this silly award show, but he did. And it was glorious. The visual of seeing fans give a three finger salute to “President Snow” was a unique experience but ABSOLUTELY DESERVED. And he definitely is “nice, sweet-tempered and generous” for that appearance.

Three Finger Salutes Forever, Mr. Sutherland.

JJ

Sacrificing Sanity For Mockingjay: The TCAs and More

Oh, the things we do for fandom!

Without realizing it, our love of The Hunger Games fandom has seeped us in a deep sense of ridiculous sense of paranoia about completely insignificant details and events.

The Hunger Games + Award Shows = US DOING THIS.

The Hunger Games + Award Shows = US DOING THIS.

For instance, The Teen Choice Awards are on right now. Deep down, we realize that the TCAs are fun, but they’re also so silly that your average teenager probably feels too mature to be watching. It’s for the “OMG OMG OMG!!!1!11!!” fangirls and frankly, we try to keep our shit together a little better than that. And yet… Guess what we’re doing right now? Watching the show and following updates!

Why? BECAUSE FANDOM, THAT’S WHY!

We can’t lie and pretend that our interests are only Hunger Games related, because we do like quite a few things that the awards show will cover (even if we can’t always stand the manner in which they cover it.) Still, we watch because fandom is a living, breathing, very in-the-moment business.

In layman’s terms: Something might happen!

A big actor moment, a hilarious Internet meme in the works, or a surprise crazy reveal of some sort. All of it would be important to the fandom in some capacity and we feel the unquenchable need to be there to witness it.

Even as a write this, I worry that something awesome will somehow happen after it’s posted. Since I started writing this, Josh Hutcherson has accepted two three awards on behalf of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, meaning he now has a bunch of cheap surfboards to put into storage until he ultimately decides to sign them and donated them to charity:

But6zA7CYAEIM5E.jpg_large

Shiny, colorful storage. Hooray! We know that’s what it is for these actors and musicians on many levels– though surely they do love and appreciate their fans, which is why they come in the first place. And because they’re there, we can’t miss it!

It’s not just us, right? Everyone kinda has this tick, right? PLEASE TELL US IT ISN’T JUST US!

We May Have A Problem,

The Girl With The Pearl

Making Brand Partnership Fan-Friendly (And How To Screw It Up)

Yesterday at Comic Con, I was following the tweets coming out of the Community panel.  Community is a smart, irreverent tv comedy set at a community college (with very questionable academic credentials). The clever writing and pop culture in-jokes meant it attracted only a niche audience. It’s never had high ratings, but has a very engaged, social-media savvy viewership.  With low ratings, every season the show has been threatened with cancellation. And this year, it actually was cancelled by NBC, only to be later (and kind of miraculously) picked up for another season by Yahoo Screen.

The guy in the blue shirt, that's Subway

The guy in the blue shirt, that’s Subway

To help keep the show running for five seasons despite the low ratings, the show engaged in some very overt product placement with Subway. Subway featured heavily in an episode in Season Three where the story had A MAN AGREEING TO LEGALLY CHANGE HIS NAME TO SUBWAY to “collectively show the humanity of business owners” and win over the public.  It was a hilarious episode, that made fun of corporate sponsorship and big companies hurting the little guy while itself being hugely overt product placement. The humor was still very much in line with what Community was known for, so it was a great fit. In season five, Subway again featured in the story (as the villain) as they buy the college in an attempt to turn it into a “Sandwich University.”

Now, fans could have been unhappy about Community “selling out” but they actually embraced this move and actively supported the business. Subway has done a lot of placements with television shows, and they’ve been really smart about it. With Community, Subway entered into the agreement understanding the show, who the fans were, and were happy to play along and be in on the joke.  And because Community was struggling with lower ratings, the fans appreciated the advertising support from the company to keep the show on the air.

In "questionable taste" but it didn't keep fans from enjoying the film or promotion of the film

In “questionable taste” but it didn’t keep fans from enjoying the film or promotion of the film

As Hunger Games fans, we’re familiar with Subway’s partnership last year during Catching Fire. Tying in a restaurant chain with the Hunger Games is a tough fit, but awkward as it was, I gave it a pass. Yes, it was silly to see commercials with Katniss & Peeta on the flaming chariot with Subway talking about fiery sriracha sandwiches, but they did at least try to tie in some charitable efforts to help with hunger. That helped. It was still odd, but I understand the modern movie marketing need to have some of these type of deals. If you wanted to go to Subway, see the Katniss standee and ask for a Peeta cup, you could.

Now we move on to the first major “partnership” for Mockingjay Part 1 with Samsung. A week ago, it was announced that Samsung would be launching an app on their most expensive phones and tablets with exclusive Mockingjay content. Which is lame if you don’t have the most expensive Samsung phones and tablets, but that part, again, didn’t get me too heated because once the app is in the hands of millions of people, everything will end up on the internet about a minute after they are released. Have your silly exclusive on a couple stills for that one minute, Samsung. You’re creating a block in distribution, but fans can subvert that easily enough.

What fans really do care about are the big, meaty, content releases, like trailer releases. So the offensive aspect of this partnership was how it affected the long awaited trailer release. We all pretty much assumed the trailer would release at Comic Con, though we were hoping it would be a repeat of last year. With a fabulous Hall H panel and the debuting of the trailer on a huge screen for maximum impact. Seems Hall H was not to be this year, so instead Lionsgate chose to sell Samsung  the trailer to display on their tablets at either their very Capitol-stylized Hard Rock Hotel near SDCC or over the weekend at their “store within a store” Samsung Galaxy Experience areas at select Best Buys. So for about 3 days, Samsung is holding on to this trailer and keeping it from most fans.

Yes, Samsung decided that with this co-branding they would force people to go and touch/use their products to see the trailer.  Samsung could still have gotten advertising exposure for an online trailer debut (and maybe they still will) with a Samsung Galaxy ad before the trailer, or a logo skin around the media player for the release on Lionsgate’s featured online distribution method. They could have done that, and not pissed off the vast majority of fans. Yet, they decided to disrupt the online trailer release and create a whole Capitol-esque privileged class of those with the means to buy into their system and see it early versus those in the Districts who either don’t have one of those fancy Best Buys near them in America or the rest of the world. Or they could be like me and just really not want to experience the trailer release on a tablet with some Samsung/Best Buy employee breathing over their shoulder. That is not the “Samsung Experience” I want.

The huge box office for the Hunger Games films proves that the movies don’t need these sponsorship deals to be financially viable. This fact also explains the fan anger towards Samsung, while Community fans embraced Subway. Subway’s support of Community helped fans keep the show they loved on air and alternatively Samsung has CREATED A BARRIER to the thing we love. And I don’t care how cute you think Peeta’s bakery looked in those pictures at SDCC. I’m sure you would rather have seen the trailer today.

Unfortunately for us, Lionsgate has now discovered this new way of making even more money out of the Hunger Games franchise, so I fear a repeat of this scenario again. Maybe they’ll go with a different brand next time and have some other hoops you have to jump through for the trailer, but I’m sadly doubting it will be the fan-friendly-online-for-everyone-at-once release next year. The money’s too tempting, and they’re betting fans will forgive yet again.

Other people may be more forgiving than me. The trailer will be online Monday, and maybe its awesomeness will help us forget about the weekend before. For me, I know I won’t be buying anything with Samsung on it for a long time.

Let’s hope the other Mockingjay partnerships can actually enhance the fan experience.

JJ

The Big Event on July 26th!

Did you hear the news about SATURDAY, JULY 26TH? It’s a big, big, big day, as our Effie would say.

Catching Fire makes its world television premiere at 9pm ET on EPIX!

Ok, ok, don’t yell at me! I know it’s not THE NEWS that everyone is waiting to hear. And it doesn’t mean much if you don’t get the EPIX channel (Though there is a 14 day Free Trial).

But that’s the news we’ve got.  And there are some sweet prizes available to go along with it. So if you’re sitting and stewing waiting for other news, you can check them out.

catching-fire-hawaii-sweepstakes-mockingjay-fb-promo

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire EPIX Hawaiian Sweepstakes.  You can enter once a day now through August 10th for a chance to win a trip for two to the Island of O’ahu, where they filmed a lot of the Catching Fire arena scenes.  So enter, because as harrowing as the arena was, the scenery was beautiful.

There’s also a #CatchingFireOnEPIX Photo-A-Day Sweepstakes where you can compete in daily challenges on Instagram for a chance to win a $100 prize pack from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  Visit EPIX on Instagram for more details.

And then, throughout the BIG DAY, July 26th, EPIX is doing trivia on its social media and EPIX.com for more prizes.

Then, to cap off the day on the 26th, EPIX is doing a double feature of The Hunger Games at 6:30pm ET followed by the Catching Fire premiere at 9pm.

Best of luck and enjoy the show.

JJ