Blog Archives

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

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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

Compare and Contrast: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire

Our latest guest post comes from the hilariously tag-named Caesar’s Scrunchy, who has a few awesome points about the relationship between Katniss and Peeta (with visuals!)

______________________________________

You know you’re desperate for more “Mockingjay” action when you’re willing to do a school writing assignment in the summertime, which wasn’t assigned and will never be graded! But we’ve got to do something to pass the time waiting for the next propo, right?

So I’ve done a “compare and contrast” assignment just like in school, where we take two different things – two poems, two books, two films, etc. – and see what is different and what is similar about them. These assignments aren’t always fun, but when we do them, we can learn a lot more about each one by looking more closely at them. And it can be especially fun if you compare “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire” movies (because what else are we going to do
besides watch these two fave movies, amiright?!) The books have these parallels as well, but that REALLY feels like a school assignment, and doing it this way, I got to watch the movies again as “research.”

In some cases, the exact opposite from what happened in HG happened in CF (I noted those with the arrows). I used to think the first two books were a bit similar, but the more I worked on this, I appreciated how hard the filmmakers worked to give us an amazing number of little details that created great symmetry between the two movies. Or, to quote Haymitch, “Genius!” When you look at the comparisons, I hope you agree.

If you like this, feel free to watch the movies again (as if anyone needs an invitation?) and see if you can find more contrasts and comparisons. I wonder what would happen if we added Gale to the mix? Or compared Seneca Crane vs. Plutarch? Or HG Buttercup vs. CF Buttercup? J

PS – I own none of the images here, they are just for illustration purposes to show each point. AND: this is the first thing I’ve ever written for VictorsVillage.com, and I hope you like it.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: THE HUNGER GAMES AND CATCHING FIRE
Katniss Peeta Chart 1
THE BALANCE BETWEEN THEM

Katniss Peeta Chart 2

Caesar’s Scrunchy

The Mockingjay Cash Cow

As a Hunger Games fan are you feeling neglected? Left to roam the pasture alone? Well, maybe it’s because after the massive success of Catching Fire, Mockingjay is being treated as a cash cow? Yes, it seems the Mockingjay goes moo.

be careful haymitchNo, I haven’t completely lost my mind. I was just listening in to the Lionsgate quarterly earnings conference call today and I started thinking about how this could possibly be playing a role in the lack of promotion. There were a few tidbits learned from the call, like the new mobile game that will be launched, the Hunger Games museum exhibition in 2015, and confirmation that some lucky people in Cannes did actually see Mockingjay Part 1 footage, but mostly it was about other topics (and so I didn’t care). And these three tidbits are of minor interest to me as a fan anyway. I’m primarily here for the movies, and the promotion of the movies. The promotion of the movies is really fun too, but unfortunately this go round has been extremely lacking up to this point.

Indulge me in my silly theory for a moment. For Lionsgate, the fact that the Hunger Games franchise has become their cash cow is great. A cash cow is fantastic thing for a business to have. It’s a concept designed by a business consulting firm ages ago and is now basically a part of every Intro to Strategy course. A cash cow has high market share but is operating in a mature industry with low growth. The idea is modeled after a dairy cow – once you have it on your farm, you just leave it to roam the fields and it keeps pumping out lots of sweet, delicious milk over the years.

Hey, be careful who you're calling a cow!

Hey, be careful who you’re calling a cow!

And there’s no question that The Hunger Games and Catching Fire have pumped out lots of milk. A lot of the success is to the credit of how they launched (and invested in) the franchise. And now that the first two films were massive successes, they are confident Mockingjay movies will continue to churn out more milk. The audience will come back for more without much bidding. Now, I don’t think the Mockingjay movies fit exactly in this bucket, because there’s clearly room for growth at the box office internationally.  But, from our outside perspective, it seems that they’re investing less TIME at least on promoting Mockingjay as compared to THG or Catching Fire. I’m just praying that they don’t skimp on investment in the actual movie production. Please, please, NO.

For the business, having a cash cow is great. For the cow it’s not necessarily bad either. You get to do your thing and not be bothered so much. Well, until you stop producing milk and are put down.

However, if you’re a “city dweller” with no access to the farm (ALL OF US) it’s a sad situation, so I’m not going to pretend to be happy about Mockingjay’s status. And it’s not to say that in the month or two before the film comes out it won’t be MOCKINGJAY PART 1 EVERYWHERE. I’m sure it will, billboards and ad spot after ad spot. That’s just the necessity of movie marketing. It’s a shame that promotion has become so bare-bones in the meantime, because all the build up and the promotion is a huge part of the fun for mega-fans like us.

So in the meantime, we rely on awesome, talented fans to continue to do the promotion. Like this amazingly edited fan-made Mockingjay Part 1 trailer.

Thank you to the talented fans who keep the fun alive while we CONTINUE TO WAIT.

JJ

“Don’t Worry” About the Ending?

As the filming of Mockingjay Part 2 winds down, there’s a lot of fan emotion swirling about online. Of the “IT’S ALMOST OVER AND I CAN’T” variety. And true, once they stop filming there will be no more chances of paparazzi or fan set pics. And whatever they ended up filming will be IT (notwithstanding any reshoots). But I’m not really feeling the sadness right now, probably because there’s another year and a half to go before any of us can see the last movie, and because they’ve just barely started promoting Mockingjay Part 1. No, my feelings are the mainly the continued angst of “I WANT A DAMN TEASER TRAILER.”

But I understand the anxiety that comes with the knowledge that they’ve already filmed most everything, so that’s it, that’s the movie. And what if it doesn’t include the stuff that I want to see and then I am sad forever? Nina Jacobson took pity on a fan (and in a larger sense, all of us) with a tweet this week about the ending and whether we will see the epilogue/Katniss and Peeta’s kids.

 

So I suppose that we can take that to mean that yes, the epilogue and those kiddos will be a part of the movie. I think it would be a massive mistake to leave it out. Knowing that Katniss is still utterly haunted by her experiences as a teenager yet has been able to forge a life and family with Peeta is critically important. The filmmakers are smart people. I’m sure they understand this. Why are we so worried that they would leave it out?

No, this scene isn't straight from the epilogue but it's so beautiful and I'm crying.

No, this scene isn’t straight from the epilogue but it’s so beautiful and I’m crying.

The amount of anxiety about whether this would be included in the movie is interesting. I think it comes from some of the failings of the first movie of building Katniss and Peeta’s relationship (the badly executed tossing-of-the-bread scene, the truncated cave scenes, cutting away to Gale during the cave kiss, the last few scenes in the arena, Peeta not losing his leg).  Choices had to be made, and they hurt the development of Katniss and Peeta’s relationship and their overall character development.

A lot of ground was made up in Catching Fire. Somehow the filmmakers were able to take a huge amount of plot and new characters and fit everything that we really wanted and needed in 2.5 hours. And even where things were shifted or altered, there seemed to be a desire to retain fan-favorite lines or moments. So you have “Stay With Me.” “Always” occurring on the train because most of the post-Victory Tour District 12 scenes were cut. Fine, at least you found a way to include it that made sense for the characters. Wrongs were righted. And it was good.

So with the same filmmakers on board for both Mockingjay movies as Catching Fire, we should have a level of comfort that, yes, they get it and they are on the same page with us.  All will be well. They won’t pull some major change at the end and leave us all wondering why we went on this ride with them for years just to be burned at the end.

So thank you Nina, for telling us not to worry. We trust you to make it absolutely perfect.

But until we see it, we’re all still going to worry.

JJ

Those Who Cannes, Do

What’s in store for Mockingjay Part 1 at the Cannes Film Festival?

Last year for Catching Fire, Lionsgate held a super swanky party and screened some footage for international distributors. There were some nice photos of the cast and Francis Lawrence all dressed up. And the photos released from the party were very cool. Cannes is a film industry event, for film industry people, so it didn’t mean much for us fans beyond some pretty pictures. (And they were great pictures!)

Lookin good last year in Cannes

This year looks to be no different. A few weeks ago there was a rumor that a teaser trailer would debut at Cannes, which was quickly denied by Lionsgate. But there will definitely be film business-y stuff going down at Cannes. And we’ve got a big ol’ billboard that went up a few days ago to prove it.

Actual evidence of Mockingjay Part 1 at Cannes!

Actual evidence of Mockingjay Part 1 at Cannes! And yes, confirmation en francais that the tagline is “Fire Burns Brighter in the Darkness”

 

So my hunch is that Lionsgate will likely follow the Catching Fire playbook at Cannes again this year. Screen some footage for the distributors, shake some hands, sign some deals, smile for the cameras and party down.

But as a fan, I’m not going to despair about the no-teaser-at-Cannes-thing. Because 2 weeks from now, X-Men: Days of Future Past comes out in theaters. If one of those conspiracy theories was correct, and Fox had some contractual block against Lionsgate promoting Mockingjay Part 1 (or using Jennifer Lawrence’s image), that will be over after the film comes out. And then finally, it will be PROMOTION TIME.

Or, what I’m guessing is more likely that that  maybe there will be a teaser trailer shown with X-Men? It’s going to be a HUGE movie, its STARS JENNIFER LAWRENCE, and IT’S DAMN TIME FOR A TEASER TRAILER. It is the perfect fit for MJ1. And if a teaser goes with X-Men, it’s not just going to be dropped out of nowhere to surprise opening night audiences. There’s going to be lead up to it. So it’s soon. It has to be so soon. SOON.

If it doesn’t happen then I’m going to be scratching my head so hard I’ll make a bald spot. Lionsgate, I really don’t want a bald spot.

So get ready friends.

What am I talking about? WE ARE ALL SO PAST READY! Bring it.

JJ

Money, Money, Money

Date check time – tomorrow is the first day of April! Maybe a month where we actually get news about a Mockingjay movie!?! Tomorrow is also April Fools’ Day, an annoying day where you can TRUST NO ONE. So I’m going to hate that. But maybe, after April Fools’ Day we can get some Mockingjay news? I’m dying here.

Happy New [Fiscal] Year, Lionsgate!

Happy New [Fiscal] Year, Lionsgate!

But enough of my desperate begging, did you also know that tomorrow is the first day of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp’s fiscal year?  Yep, I was so bored with the lack of Mockingjay news, I spent some time on their investor relations site.  Their year closes today, and then the auditors come in to check that the money was counted right. The annual report, or 10-K, won’t come out until late May but it did spur me to check in to see where the final totals for Catching Fire ended up. You may have heard a few months ago that Catching Fire surpassed Iron Man 3 to be the number one US domestic grossing film of 2013, which is especially impressive when you realize the film was only released in 2D and IMAX, not those extra 3D formats that bump up total receipts.  But it raked in even a few more million after surpassing Iron Man 3.

Congratulations.

Congratulations.

Here are the stats per BoxOfficeMojo.com

Domestic – $424,645,577

Foreign – $439,897,616

Total –  $864,543,193

 

That’s a whole lot of money. I doubted that Catching Fire would surpass The Hunger Games’s domestic gross (just because THG’s success was so very massive). Though I did see Catching Fire in theaters 7 times compared to The Hunger Games 4 times, so maybe a few other fans like me did the same thing and ca-ching ca-ching. Happy days.

I had higher expectations for Catching Fire’s foreign take however, especially with all the extra emphasis on international markets (the parties at Cannes, more international premieres, etc). The more or less 50/50 split domestic/foreign is increasingly rare for blockbuster movies. More and more blockbusters make 2/3 of their total box office overseas. Though Catching Fire still made $157 million more internationally than it did with The Hunger Games (and improved from a 60/40 domestic/international spit). $157 million is basically an entire hit movie’s US box office in itself, so it’s huge growth. But I bet there will be a continued focus on getting the rest of the world watching so that the Mockingjay movies are even stronger internationally, and of course, keeping US audiences energized so they can try and top the success of Catching Fire.

Now that the new fiscal year has started let’s start spending some of that marketing budget on Mockingjay Part 1!

JJ

 

 

Hunger Games Fans: Stop Drinking the Media Wars Kool-Aid

Ah, the media! Every now and then, there’s a kernel of real depth and knowledge in there, but not nearly as often as you think. (Unfortunately, I realized this mid-way through a Journalism degree, so on top of no longer wanting to work for the media, I’m in massive debt!) Mostly, it’s about getting people to pay attention to what you’re saying and make them think it’s important, even though it’s usually not. This is especially true of entertainment media.

Not the same. Both inspiring the world to take action and think for themselves. Where's the downside, again?

Not the same. Both inspiring the world to take action and think for themselves. Where’s the downside, again?

So let us repeat a sentiment we’ve stated before. One more time with feeling!

There is no real fandom war between The Hunger Games and Divergent. Or between The Hunger Games and any other franchise, for that matter. Quit drinking the media wars Kool-aid. Seriously.

Them There Eyes already covered that EW pulled a seriously dick move by trying to deflate The Hunger Games series to up Divergent. Surely, other media sites have done it as well. Entertainment Weekly, especially, has stock in the success of the Divergent series. Note that they have stock in the success of THG as well, but it’s already a proven success so they don’t have to coddle it anymore, just cover it. Hence the clueless “Katniss is from District 9 and Victors are reaped in every Quarter Quell” review Catching Fire got. Successful fandom-centric franchises are huge readership draws. And Lionsgate? They don’t care which one you like better because they are both owned by Lionsgate. Though it should be noted that a lot of THG fan outrage is hypocrisy, given that most people seem perfectly okay with people deflating Divergent in favor of The Hunger Games. It shouldn’t be either way.

Of course, The Hunger Games/Divergent media wars have the desired effect. Everyone has preferences. We rush into the conversation to pick a side. Fans run out to say “I think Series A is better and anyone who thinks Series B is better is an idiot!” and vice versa.

Even we sip the Kool-aid a bit without realizing it. Them There Eyes was quick to call the movie mediocre based solely off critical reviews. When someone commented on one media post about how Mockingjay was awful and Allegiant was great, I was quick to respond with the inverse opinion. And I REALLY LIKE BOTH FRANCHISES. Not in love with the last Divergent book, but I still like both on the whole. Plus, we believe everyone should read and decide for themselves.

A beautiful little reminder.

A beautiful little reminder. Same for their adaptations.

People like what they like. Some like The Hunger Games. Some like Divergent. Many, many people like both. And that’s fine! Don’t let the media make you think otherwise! Critics are not gods. While they make valid observations about film now and again, they’re often self-important jackwads. A movie isn’t good or bad or special or fun because a conglomerate of cynics tells you so. Seriously, that takes all the fun out of moviegoing. If you’ve ever had to stop asking a friend to go to the movies because they shot down everything you suggest based on critics, you know. So don’t let them push you around, m’kay?

This is not a war and nobody needs to pick sides. When the next potential franchise comes out, the media will do the same damn thing because people will STILL get hyped up over it. IGNORE THEEEEEMMMM. Have your preferences, have your personal tastes, but cutting down someone else’s fandom just to up yours, whether you’re Owen Gleiberman or just some random person on Tumblr, just makes you look like a petty ass.

Again: The Kool-Aid. STOP DRINKING IT.

WE JUST LIKE LIKING THINGS!
The Girl With The Pearl

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