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Denied!

The absence of information opens the door to all sorts of rumor and doubt. For months, we lived with the rumor that a Mockingjay Part 1 teaser trailer would premiere at the MTV Movie Awards (mainly just based on Catching Fire’s promotional schedule, but the fact that the movie’s Brazilian film distributor posted this as well didn’t help things).

NOJust as soon as the MTV Movie Awards were over and… nothing was shown, a new teaser trailer date rumor came to life. It’s going to be played at Cannes! Cannes! Because of a Variety article from January says that Lionsgate will promote Mockingjay at Cannes!  And then yesterday a twitter account that reports Cannes Film Festival news caused a huge stir by saying that a Mockingjay teaser trailer was CONFIRMED to be shown at Cannes. What’s that? Something actually might happen soon? The fandom rejoices, even if it’s still a month away. It’s something where there once was NOTHING.

And then like an hour later, all that joy was again taken away. Because I suppose this rumor went wide enough for Lionsgate to take the trouble of denying it. So, as per the Lionsgate NO MOCKINGJAY PART 1 TEASER TRAILER AT CANNES. On a positive note, we know definitively and we don’t have to live with a month of people getting excited for something that won’t happen. But on a negative note, the lack of any news, the rollercoaster of rumor, and the general delay in any promotion when compared to last year is taking its toll on the fandom. Where there was just once impatience and excitement, there is now annoyance and resentment.

I guess this is what Lionsgate thinks?

I guess this is what Lionsgate thinks?

One does not invest hundreds of millions of dollars into making a movie without also having a very detailed, scheduled plan to promote it. For whatever reason, Lionsgate has made the start date later this year. Whether it’s other priorities or contractual obligations holding them back we’ll probably never know.  I don’t buy the argument that the start was delayed because Francis Lawrence needed more time to work on the teaser trailer. Or at least, that’s a total cop out excuse. Even if a teaser trailer wasn’t ready there are lots of other things that could be done to build excitement for the film – release movie stills or posters, or at the very least run some teasing posts on your social sites. No, there’s some other reason at play here. But as a fan, it’s absolutely no fun.

My bosses like to use baseball analogies a lot in regards to marketing. I’ve been told that if you bat .300 for the season you’re an All Star. If you bat .300 for a career, you make the Hall of Fame. For Mockingjay Part 1, the batting average is zero because Lionsgate won’t step up to the plate and play.

But baseball isn’t really my thing. I prefer the Frozen analogy here. Mockingjay is young Elsa locked up in her room and we’re Anna and really want to build a snowman.

Stop telling us no. We just want to play.

JJ

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The Inevitable Final Book Movie Split

When it was announced that Mockingjay would be split into 2 movies, it was a met with controversy. No one was really surprised – the precedent had been set with Harry Potter and Twilight. For big movie franchises, it gives the opportunity for all involved to make more money. It can be a very good business decision. And for fans, when it’s done well, it’s great too. More of the stuff that you love.

Mockingjay, you're painful, but you have solid content for 2 movies

Mockingjay, you’re painful, but you have solid content for 2 movies

As I remember it, people who were against Mockingjay being split into two complained that 1) it was a blatant money grab and 2) Mockingjay is too dark of a book to run for two movies.  And, yes, a big complaint of Mockingjay is that you’re stuck in Katniss’s head the entire time, and Katniss is in a very dark place. Because she’s mentally ill, it can be a tough read emotionally. But the story itself is solid. The world building is solid. The brilliant thing about a movie adaptation is that the perspective can be broadened. In the movie adaptations of Mockingjay we’ll be able to see beyond what Katniss sees, to the decisions made behind closed doors in 13,  the other districts, and the Capitol.  We get to go deeper into this world, so all of this is exciting. And after Catching Fire, we’re confident that Francis Lawrence will be able to execute this in spades. Lionsgate gets a big thumbs up on the making of Mockingjay 1 and 2. Party till it’s November 2015!

But what happens after November 2015? Today came the announcement that the Divergent movie franchise would be following this same pattern of splitting the final book into 2 movies. The pattern continues, and the collective snark about this decision is strong. I know we’re not a Divergent site, but the movies are being made by a Lionsgate company and as Hunger Games fans, we are the bullseye target market for these films. ALSO WE ARE GETTING NO MOCKINGJAY NEWS TO TALK ABOUT, SO -

Another movie gives more opportunity for merch and longer shots of Tobias's back tats?

Another movie gives more opportunity for merch and longer shots of Tobias’s back tats?

I just had to laugh, because no, it’s not exactly a blatant cash grab. It’s a very risky attempt at a cash grab. The decision to split HP, Twilight, and THG came after these movies became mega-successes so it was clear the extra movie would make huge money. I don’t think that assumption can be made here yet. And the odds are even more against if because it’s doubtful that this particular book can support two solid movies or 4 hours of collective screen time.

Allegiant is a very divisive book. The most passionate of fans love Allegiant, but beyond that group, Allegiant is negatively viewed and not just because of the ending. For me, everything I had liked about the first 2 books came crashing down with Allegiant.  I was uncertain about seeing the Allegiant movie at all because I felt so burned by the book. But 2 movies? It’s adding insult to injury.

The negative perception of the book isn’t news to Summit/Lionsgate, so for the sake of their stock price, they better have one hell of a plan to make this work. Best case scenario – maybe some of the elements that are criticized – the uneven characterization, the world building, the plot – can be improved with a good screenwriter and director to create enjoyable and entertaining movies. The movies also won’t be burdened by chapter by chapter POV switching between Tris and Tobias. However, that’s a dicey situation, because if you change the story, your core fans who love the book are going to be angry and may not support it (or just go see it once, which is damning for the profitability of these movies). And you can’t draw in those who read the book and didn’t like it unless there’s been big changes. Major doubts on this decision. Massively huge doubts.

Good luck to all involved, because it was always going to be a challenge to adapt Allegiant, and now you’ve given yourself twice the job.

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

 

 

Chocolate, So Much Chocolate!

I gotta tell ya’, I don’t get gifts often– sure you’d think as a Chanukah celebrator I would I get tons, and tons, and tons, but I don’t, because presents are not traditionally given during that holiday, FYI. Yep, it’s a Western social construct that 845_2811_largeonly came about within the last 100 years or so. So, no gifts por moi, because I’m a Grinch, or something. Soooo, when a giant package was unceremoniously left on my doorstep, and then later picked up by my roommate, and then left on my bed– I was not expecting it to say the least. What package am I speaking of though? Ah yes, a giant collection of the chocolates that Lionsgate and Wild Ophelia put out in promotion for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and a Hallmark Catching Fire era Mockingjay pin ornament. Lemme just say I’m digging the chocolate, because everybody likes chocolate, right? Okay, you may not if you’re A. Allergic to it. Or B. Developed Chocolate Fever after ingesting copious amounts of chocolate during some such holiday, likely the one involving rabbits, and eggs, and chicks, and yeah you get the idea. But true to form, hypothetical you, or perhaps someone else ate so much chocolate that anything but chocolate started to taste vastly unappealing, or dare I say disgusting, and ever since you’ve stayed away from the stuff– because it ruined a week of your life when you were eight years-old. True story, I knew a person who had this happen to them, don’t worry, they switched to Cheetos I think, or maybe they died– who knows!? Do they even still make Cheetos?

Who sent the gifts though? Aha! I know you would think that we get tons of perks here at Victor’s Village, but– to be quite honest, we don’t. I mean sure we were honored with the privilege of attending The Hunger Games world premiere in 2012,

Our own  Girl With The Pearl snapped this one! Wooo!

Our own Girl With The Pearl snapped this one! Wooo!

and the US premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire this past November, but we don’t like… get flown in on private jets, get put up in fancy hotels, and get fruit baskets and spa treatments up the yin yang, ass, butt, whatever. Nope, that is not the case at all. So, when free stuff does show up at our collective homes, and yes, they are sent from Lionsgate Studios, we are very very happy, and also very grateful.

So far I’ve tasted only one flavor from the batch, dark chocolate and cherries representing District 11, AKA the agriculture District, home of Rue and Thresh– and sad, sad crying children. It’s quite nice, it’s pretty close to one of my favorite flavor combinations of dark chocolate and raspberries, so it’s sort of tart and also smooth and decadent with the dark chocolate off setting the sour. I like it, I wish there were two bars of it in the box, but alas there is not. Next I may just have to wing it and randomly pick one, possibly whilst blindfolded, because my taste buds are biased– and I don’t know if I could knowingly pick out chocolate that’s flavored with beef, otherwise known as District 10.

Sometimes all it takes is a box of chocolate to say thank you. It also helps when the chocolate is Panem themed. So, Thank you Lionsgate!

Them There Eyes

P.S I may hang the ornament in my car, ’cause I don’t have a Christmas tree.

Part of The Experience: The Los Angeles Premiere of Catching Fire

Being separated from my iPhone is proving to be a specific kind of anxiety I’ve never experienced before in my life. Thus is the rule however: When you attend a studio sponsored premiere of a major motion picture that’s touted to be one of the biggest box office draws of the year, you’re required to check your phone at a security check point, or entrust it to the confines of the walls of a friends over priced hotel room. The JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles, California is enormous with over 20 stories of height to its name, it’s also painfully modern, with an ample use of glass and steel in its inner and outer design scheme, and its shiny cream-colored floors, and sumptuous carpets lining its corridors scream, “luxury! Luxury! Luxury!”, and just because my butter yellow iPhone 5c was being housed there for over three hours, luxurious amenities included or not are not making my anxiety any less great.

This is how I spend most of the evening, in a near constant state of anxiety, fear, and of course tempered excitement. Movie premieres are an everyday occurrence in Los Angeles, but I do not live in Los Angeles, and therefore movie premieres are not an everyday thing, or nuisance according to locals, to me. Yes, because god forbid they have to walk around the block to get to the Staples Center, and not cut across the plaza directly outside The Nokia Theater. Walking seemingly to the average Los Angeleno, at least from what I’ve gleaned, is about as pleasant as getting a bikini wax. And considering the amount of swimming pools in the metro area, a lot of bikini waxes are experienced on a daily basis in greater Los Angeles.

LA Live is buzzing, the plaza that so many wish was open for

LA Live

LA Live

cutting across to the sporting arena, is laden with red carpeting, cameras, screaming fans, famous, and also famous-ish people, and lots and lots of industry professionals that only deal with the behind the scenes. Almost the entire expanse of the plaza is blocked off by barricades, except to one side where sleek black town cars drop off a staggering stream of actors, actresses, and sometimes singers. The air is charged, and the never smiling guards all in black, holding their ever-present walkie-talkies, surround the area and act as an odd blanket to the atmosphere. I am allowed nowhere near the inside of this activity heavy place, I am not special enough, I am an out-of-towner who writes for a fan blog.

Eating and drinking is just something that’s not going to happen apparently, I came to this conclusion twice today: Once when the makeup artist I had paint my face earlier that day didn’t secure my stark red lipstick with the layering methodology I knew would ensure its not being mussed by anything short of a nuclear attack, and now. I’m sitting in Wolfgang Puck’s with nine other people, and I can’t seem to get the waiter’s attention to give me a much-needed straw so I can attempt to sip at the likely room temperature tap water he plunked down in front of each of us, once he realized that the lot of us were not ordering dinner, but finger food, or nothing at all– like me, because food smears unsecured lipstick. I totally get why he could care less about treating me like I exist, because I’m not obligated to tip him– straw or not. I want to get out of this restaurant, it’s loud, actually all the restaurants I’ve been to over the last three days have been loud, either the music is blasting right on the unfortunate edge of the need to shout almost everything you say to the person next to you, across from you, or standing behind you as they take your over priced order of humus and pita bread, or everyone has decided that that’s the night to have the loudest conversations they’ve ever had ever. Nope, it’s the music’s fault.

Walking in six-inch heels is not as easy as it sounds. Wait, it doesn’t sound easy, does it? ‘Cause if it does the world is likely ending, or worse. Rephrase, walking in six-inch heels with ankle straps that are too tight, and rubbing your skin raw— is difficult. The majority of the group I am with have walked the length and breadth of most of LA Live three times in the last two hours, and no, we have not been seated inside the theater yet, that’s next on the agenda. The night has taught me many things and most of them are things I never wanted to learn, like that stairs are evil when you’re traversing them in six-inch heels, because this is just something you never have to think about when you spend majority of your time in nothing that resembles six-inch heels. Stairs are even more evil when studio executives are probably walking behind you, and talent from the film are meandering in from the Red Carpet after grabbing a complimentary Dasani from one of the many concession stands inside the lobby of the theater. My anxiety only increases after I’ve found my seat in row H in the orchestra section though, especially when I see Alan Ritchson walking up the aisle, greeting people he knows with his impossibly white smile, and helping his heavily pregnant wife into a seat three rows or so behind mine. I try not to look around me like a Meerkat, because people watching at a Hollywood movie premiere is like shooting fish in a barrel, and my eyes keep wanting to fall on people like Matt Damon, who I heard is in the vicinity, and Donald Sutherland– who I know is. I refrain from craning my neck around, and restrict myself to only looking to my left, my right, and to the front of me. My friends have no qualms about looking around like hungry children standing in front of a sweet shop window though, and when one of them declares that Bruno Gunn is seating himself a few rows behind us, I break my promise to myself and glimpse him for a brief moment, I quickly turn back and force myself to focus on the Yahoo! Livestream showing on the massive screen 8 rows in front of me, because it feels like I’m spying. There is nothing normal about this entire experience, and odder still is that a year and a half before I was in the same building one level up, my eyes taking in the blur of colors that was the talent, the executives, and the family and friends of those involved or half involved with the film, below me. A year and a half before we were seated in the Screaming Section, this year we’re 20 feet from the actress cast as Annie Cresta, and the fictional president of Panem. When the head of Lionsgate finally takes the stage, I’m ready to burst.

 

That’s all for now folks! Hope you liked my experimental style with this one. I am actually a fiction writer at heart, and this is what’s lovingly referred to as– Creative Non-fiction.

Them There Eyes

From Sparks to Catching (Wild)Fire

We’ll be back soon, lovelies! In the meantime, check out Uli’s fabulous analysis of the Catching Fire marketing!

______________________________________________

The triad of Josh, Jen and Liam blazing their way through red carpets all around the world can only mean one thing. The day we’ve all been eagerly waiting for is finally upon us. Who would have thought that a year ago, huh? 500+ days of a countdown sure don’t pass by all too quickly, but Lionsgate did their best to keep us all on our toes and excited throughout. And with the movie now being shown to not only media representatives but the general public as well, I thought it time to do a little recap of how well the marketing machinery of Lionsgate worked this time around.

the_spark_by_amyisalittledecoy-d4yinq1

Did #TheSpark spark fan interest?

After months and months of watching The Hunger Games multiple times to pass time, something was finally happening. #TheSpark was sent flying to ignite all those Tributes in hibernation and get them excited for the second installment of the franchise. And ignite it did.

First, stills from the movie were being revealed that, again, had to be unlocked by fans through tweeting a certain hashtag. It felt almost like we were back in the days of “The Hunger Games” marketing campaign when all was about tweeting, revealing and unlocking. But for “Catching Fire” it stopped suddenly and instead of being a part, becoming a part of #TheSpark, we were asked to stand aside and watch. And wait. Wait until Lionsgate decided it was time to reveal something new. The whole “Tick Tock” concept was all about tweeting and joining to win, not tweeting and joining to unlock. And that, in general, reflected what a grand part of the Catching Fire marketing campaign was about.

My recollection of the whole campaign might not be detailed, but I sure remember the overall feeling I’ve gotten from it was us, the fans, were being degraded to viewers as opposed to the players we all had been throughout The Hunger Games campaign leading up to the movie. We “played” to unlock TheCapitol.pn site, played to unlock our DIPs, played to puzzle together the first official movie poster. Everyone had a part in it. And this time around, especially with all give aways or competitions being restricted to only the US and Canada, most of those players were forced to sit down and watch as the game went on without them. And I, personally, found that saddening. It’s more exciting being a part than watching (except, of course, when we’re talking about the Hunger Games. The actual ones).

Now, I am not saying that Lionsgate didn’t do a good job. It was solid, just enough to keep the level of excitement boiling. But Catching Fire’s marketing campaign was just missing that little extra that would have taken #TheSpark from its initial, big-enough-to-make-smores campfire to a full-blown wildfire like the one Katniss is escaping from in the first book. Something engaging and captivating the fans, allowing them to become a part of Panem rather than just citizens of the Capitol. Net-a-Porter anyone?

Uli

Catching Box Office Fire

Imagine this: Catching Fire, opening weekend. Glorious, isn’t it? Crowded, but still glorious. And with those type of crowds, you can expect another thing: THE BIG BUCKS!

jennifer-lawrence-catching-fire-poster-610x903

Box Office FIYAH, we say!

The Hunger Games made $152.5 million during its opening weekend. Which is why it’s a bit strange to see Deadline (via DWTC) reporting that Lionsgate is only expecting Catching Fire to make $140 – $150 million opening weekend. Of course, there are some factors to consider:

1) The Hunger Games came out in March, a time of year during which there is absolutely ZERO competition in theaters. NADA! ZIP! ZILCH, WE SAY! We remember laughing at the suggestion that THG was competing against Wrath of the Titans. This time, there’s viable competition in the form of Hemsy’s older brother Chris in Thor: The Dark World. But…

2) Catching Fire has a massive fanbase that would come out to see the movie, perhaps multiple times, during opening weekend no matter when that opening weekend took place. Plus, Thor: The Dark World comes out two weeks prior, so one movie won’t truly interfere with the other’s box office numbers. And…

3) The only movie coming out in wide release the same weekend is The Delivery Man, a Vince Vaughn comedy that may be charming, but isn’t a must-see for anyone we know. Though…

No offense Vince Vaughn but.. THIS WINS.

No offense Vince Vaughn but.. THIS WINS.

4) The highest grossing November weekend box office of all time is The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which made $142.8 million. This means Lionsgate believes Catching Fire could pummel that record. Doing so would put it in at least the top 8 box office weekends of all time.

Maybe we’re cocky, but we don’t care. Lionsgate, you’re aiming low! What’s your deal, dude?! November is prime movie-going season and Catching Fire is in top shape! Give your film some more credit!

Let’s Catch You Up On The Fanaticism,
The Girl With The Pearl

Win a Catching Fire Soundtrack and Poster Package!

Victor’s Village is offering one lucky fan the opportunity to win The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack and a movie poster featuring YOUR name!

hungergames_picturediscbundle

As we’ve mentioned before, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack is looking pretty amazing and we can’t wait to get our hands on it! Now you can get the best of the best with this Soundtrack and Poster bundle.

Winner will receive:

  • 1 CD
  • 1 Double Picture disc – includes images of Katniss, Peeta, Johanna and Finnick
  • 1 24”x36” movie poster

This bundle is the snazziest option out there, currently priced at $59.98!

To enter, comment on this post and tell us about your favorite artist on the soundtrack and why you love them by 9am PST on October 27th! All comments will be numbered and one lucky winner will be chosen via Random.org. The winner will be contacted via email.

Click here to pre-order the soundtrack in any of its available formats.

Best of Luck, Tributes!

hungergames_disc1hungergames_disc2

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Premiere Ticket Giveaway Winner

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a #TickTock11 winner!

TT11_V4

We had an amazing amount of participation of our Catching Fire Premiere Ticket giveaway, but there could only be one winner! We chose the winner at random (Good thing, too! There were too many great entries to choose just one!) and we’re thrilled to announce the winner!

CONGRATULATIONS, ANNIE B.!

Annie has won two tickets to the US Premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in Los Angeles, courtesy of Lionsgate and Victor’s Village!

Though the pick was random, Annie’s entry was really inspiring. Take a look!

To me The Hunger Games means second chances, a new beginning and hope. Before I found the trilogy I was really struggling with life. Nothing made sense, I was so unhappy and angry and sad all of the time. Come to find out I had a rare form of depression. It only got worse after that, I felt like I was a freak and i became even more sad and angry to the point where life had little meaning to me. Finally while sitting in study hall almost 3 and a half years ago I picked up the first book and my life changed from there. Every aspect of my life has changed since reading those books. It gave me hope and strength and reason to keep living no matter how hard life gets. I will find myself in various situations and I will tell myself to be Katniss, be strong because you know, know small task is to much to handle. To see Katniss and Peeta and the rest of the victors come out of the experiences so scarred both emotionally and physically showed to me that hope is not lost. I will forever be so grateful to Suzanne Collins and the entire film organization for creating the world that save my life.

#TickTock10: International Catching Fire Lovefest

The clock has struck once again! And this time, it’s all about international love.

TT10_OffSiteTileWhile we still don’t love that the World Premiere is in London, it seems Lionsgate is trying to make amends with the US and Canada by offering fans a chance to attend one of the FIVE European premieres happening before the Catching fire crew comes stateside.

“HOW?!” you ask! Simply tweet about the premiere using the hashtag #TickTock10 and the hashtag for the premiere location of your choice by midnight PST on October 11th:

#CatchingFireLondon

#CatchingFireBerlin

#CatchingFireMadrid

#CatchingFireRome

#CatchingFireParis

Lionsgate tends to be a little Twitter-centric and not everyone is thrilled about it, but given how active fans are via that social network medium, we’re not entirely surprised. Also, it takes about two seconds to create an account and no one’s saying you have to tweet status updates everyday, so seriously… Tough cookies!

Don’t panic, international folks (yeah, we noticed some of you getting flustered all over Twitter)! There’s even more chances for YOU to win via the links on the bottom of this page!

In case you missed the premiere schedule, it goes as follows:
London, November 11th
Berlin, November 12th
Madrid, November 13th
Rome, November 14th
Paris, November 15th
Los Angeles, November 18th

Lionsgate did have some ‘splainin to do in Europe after numbers weren’t as grand as expected for the first film, so we are glad that they’re reaching out to those audiences though we wish it wasn’t in that order. Still, it’s nice to see The Hunger Games fandom love is now more available everywhere, not just to the folks who were harder to impress the first time around.

We Can Play Hard To Get, Too!
The Girl With The Pearl

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