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Awhile back, like a couple of years ago– I wrote about the prospect of The Hunger Games utilizing the tried and truth money-making method of product placement. However, now that a few major companies have made brief, and lasting partnerships with the franchise (Cover Girl, Subway) I’m struck with the thought again of “what if?” In the case of the most recent news of Lionsgate having sold the trailer debut of the first Mockingjay film to Samsung, I’m struck even harder with “what if?” But now it’s pulsing, and loud, and um… annoying.

What if Samsung are the makers of all those futuristic projection televisions we’ve seen in the last two Hunger Games films. Or worse, what if in Mockingjay: Part Two the Holo that Boggs carries around in the field is made by Samsung as well? What if for some ridiculous reason Lionsgate decides that in the last installments of the series to throw integrity aside, and forget that the companies of our world no longer exist, and have no place in the world of Panem. But alas they start

I totes want an Audi now

I totes want an Audi now

throwing in familiar, contemporary logos and symbols left and right, like a Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis film. Granted those directors were more tasteful than gratuitous with their usage of product placement, dare I say it– they perfected it, but things could change. They could do close ups on Snow’s white, blue veined hand reaching out and clicking a button on his projection television, and the Samsung logo is clear and prominent, like Audi in iRobot, or Omega in Casino Royale, or Ducati in Tron: Legacy– or the worst offender of them all, almost every frame in Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Speculation you will be the death of us!? Damn… I want a Coke.

Them There Eyes

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Selling the Mockingjay Trailer Release

News came out today that Mockingjay Part 1 would indeed have a presence at San Diego Comic Con. Yay! That’s awesome and great. And expected, since Lionsgate has been saying all along they would be at Comic Con since January. But now we know some of the stars will be there, which is great news for fans who long ago bought tickets thinking that Mockingjay would have a presence at the Con.

But then came the news of the Samsung partnership with Mockingjay Part 1, and how this would affect the LONG AWAITED Mockingjay trailer release.

In a first-of-its-kind experience, fans will have the opportunity to preview the highly-anticipated The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 trailer on the Galaxy Tab S at an exclusive premiere in San Diego during Comic-Con on Friday, July 25. For those outside San Diego, beginning Saturday, July 26, fans can visit participating Samsung Experience Shops within Best Buy locations nationwide throughout the weekend to preview the trailer.

 

So basically, the trailer will debut at SDCC ONLY on July 25. Then over the weekend you can watch the trailer IF YOU GO TO A BEST BUY STORE. If you’re an international fan, you’re out of luck until next week, when the trailer presumably goes online.

COIN PLUTARCH COMMENT

But don’t fear, fans without SDCC tickets or a Best Buy nearby, I’m sure there will be plenty of low quality versions of the trailer recorded on people’s MOBILE DEVICES that will be uploaded on the internet. It’ll be everywhere. Even if you want to avoid it, there inevitably will be screenshots all over social media that weekend.

To say I’m disappointed in this rollout plan would be a gross understatement. The thing I love about trailer releases is to share the experience online with fans around the world. Last year’s online release of the Catching Fire along with SDCC was such a fun event for fans everywhere. This staggered release RUINS the opportunity to make the release a big worldwide experience. To think that fans are going to ignore the LQ versions that will pop up to wait for Lionsgate to post on YouTube is preposterous. We had evidence of that a few weeks ago when the first teaser leaked. It will not work.

The people that really want to see your movie trailer ASAP are your hardcore fans. So a trailer release should be focused around THE FANS and how you can make that experience special. Instead, the rights to the trailer release were sold to Samsung. We certainly don’t question Lionsgate’s right to money off this movie. That’s why they’re in business and we’re very glad they’ve made these movies! But they really should keep in mind who their customers are. The customers who will see the movie several times, buy the merch, and give the movie buzz care THE MOST about trailer releases! Please stop destroying the experiences that they value and have waited for desperately for a few extra bucks.

And so what should be happy news (A TRAILER IS COMING. FINALLY. YES.) is tinged with sadness.

 JJ

Capitol Concerns Gone Wild

ARE THEY, THOUGH?

ARE THEY, THOUGH?

We love Lionsgate, but sometimes these guys just set themselves up!

Behold, Capitol Concerns– an open forum on TheCapitol.PN for the questions and concerns of Hunger Games fans as the release of Mockingjay approaches. As if they didn’t know! As if they haven’t seeeeeen! Of course, the response was exactly what you’d expect.

In all fairness, a few fans tried to express their legitimate concerns about the movie:

Or made snarky commentary on the teaser:

But mainly, as @antovolko pointed out, this happened:

BrJ4dyPIAAAHppg

There was even one fan who avoided the “T” word in hopes that skirting around the topic may get a different result:

Maybe it’s just us, but we’re thinking that The Capitol knows what the concerns of the people are. The people are pretty singular-minded. The #FreePeeta trend was a lovely trend and will surely be a concern for some, but most of us have read the books and that worry for hijacked!Peeta will be quickly overridden by knowing what happens in the end.

Much like Plutarch says in the end of Mockingjay, people are fickle and soon forgot the past– including teasers released a few days ago that don’t contain actual film footage. Not that we don’t appreciate the first haunting peek at Peeta gone Capitol, but whetting our appetites has just made us more hungry than ever. And then they opened the floodgates!

We applaud the brave citizens who have made their concerns known, but maybe we should try should try a more subtlety? We need a secret code for trailer or something, right? We’re gonna go with SOCK MONKEY.

Maybe if we stop talking about it, it’ll reverse-psychology the fuck outta the marketing team and they’ll be like “They don’t care anyone! Release it, release it nooooow!”

Meanwhile, We’re All Like “WHERE THE HELL IS THE SOCK MONKEY?!”
The Girl With The Pearl

P.S. If you’ve got trailer thoughts (or any thoughts on The Hunger Games) and want to help me stay sane in the days leading up to my wedding, check out how you can contribute a guest post!

Teasing the Mockingjay Teaser

The internet rumblings about a Mockingjay Part 1 teaser trailer accompanying Transformers 4 this weekend keep getting louder by the minute.  There’s still no word from Lionsgate about a teaser trailer at all, so we just rely on the words of movie theater workers throughout the world who say they have received the Untitled Trilogy Teaser A.

Listen here Fibre lady, don't you even THINK about leaking something with your crazy Google Glass-type gear.

Listen here Fibre lady, don’t you even THINK about leaking something with your crazy Google Glass-type gear.

With this Teaser A being distributed to so many thousands of theaters around the world, the risk increases that it in gets into that hands of someone who does not respect the time and effort the filmmakers and studio went to making this for us, and leaks it early online.  With Mockingjay Part 1 being so eagerly anticipated, I’m very nervous about this happening. I desperately hope Lionsgate pulls the trigger on the teaser sooner rather than later, so we can see things the way they were intended and share in the experience together and freak the fuck out at what we see. With beautiful audio and video. And whatever accompanying materials they’ve prepared as well.

You know, posters with ACTUAL characters in the book on them. And beautiful MOVIE STILLS. And a meaty article in Entertainment Weekly or whatever publication Lionsgate wants. (We seriously don’t care who you publish with Lionsgate, just do it already).

Maybe I’m just on edge after seeing the US World Cup team blow their lead in the last seconds of the game last night versus Portugal. But damn, I don’t want this to leak in the final seconds after so many months of agonizing wait.  One request though, if you do happens to see something early, be kind, and keep your mouth shut (fingers still) about it. I’m usually pretty ambivalent about spoilers, but when something hasn’t been officially released yet, I get really cranky when people start blabbing about it. Even if all you say is how much YOU LOVED IT AND IT WAS AMAZING. No, don’t do it. Keep it to yourself. Or your private messages.

It seems the time is FINALLY near. Breathe it all in children.

JJ

Complaint Central

I have a new hobby born from the ever-increasing wait for the Mockingjay Part 1 teaser trailer (or theatrical trailer, I suppose, if they keep delaying). Over the past few months, we’ve had rumor after rumor that turned into nothing. How much longer can this continue, we wonder?

Hunger Games fans are a little more open with their emotions than quietly raging Katniss.

Hunger Games fans are a little more open with their emotions than quietly raging Katniss.

So my hobby comes from a place of frustration. A feeling of utter helplessness. It sucks when you have no control over a situation doesn’t it? And so we all come together in the spirit of unity to… COMPLAIN.

Yes, my new favorite hobby is to track the Mockingjay and Lionsgate tags/accounts in various social platforms and listen to the fandom ask, beg, DEMAND, SCREAM, whine, and *cry* for a trailer. Or see fans joke about the situation with dark humor. Now, some of the comments go too far and are really rude. Let’s all remember that the people who manage Lionsgate’s social media accounts likely have no say over when a trailer is released. I’m sure they really want to make us happy but don’t have much control over it either, so don’t take it too far. Fortunately, the truly nasty comments seem to be rare.

If you’d like to express your feelings about the current state of affairs in a non-rude way, you have my full support and admiration. There have been several trending topics about the trailer which is awesome. So yeah, go share with the world how much you want a Mockingjay trailer. Have fun and be creative while you’re at it.

Here are some that made me laugh.

You can use lines from the previous movies:

 

More movie lines!

 

Not a trailer

 

And fun with lines from the book!

im so tired

 

We’ve got snarky responses to tweets!

 

And then there are very direct and to the point responses.

 

Ok, this one is what happens when we get a little too frustrated. But it’s how we all feel when we see another tweet about something released over two weeks ago (even if it was soooo awesome and we loved it two weeks ago). We feel ya.

 

And here’s one of mine. Yeah, I do it too.

We may have no control of the situation, but we can still have some fun with it.

JJ

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

Cross-Promotion Fun

Did you know #Finnick has a new movie out today? It’s called The Quiet Ones, and it has nothing to do with the Hunger Games movies. But #Finnick is in it, and you love him!

 

But why stop there?  There’s also Divergent. It doesn’t have #Finnick in it unfortunately, but it’s based on a YA dystopian novel with a kickass teenaged heroine, so you’ll like it. I’m sure there have been focus groups to prove this. So after you see #Finnick in The Quiet Ones, be sure to see Divergent (again) too!

She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named

She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named

You see, it’s not the right time to mention ANYTHING ABOUT MOCKINGJAY in Hunger Games land. Why waste time talking about something months away when you could be spending your money on other things right now! Sure, Mockingjay Part 1 is the main thing you actually care about. But that’s not important because you can’t spend your money on that movie or the merchandise yet.

So here’s some other things we can do while we wait to buy Mockingjay Part 1 tickets:

  1. See Draft Day and watch a modern day #reaping starring Kevin Costner. Only instead of being reaped to an almost certain death, you get almost certain injuries and brain damage for your trouble. #Peeta
  2. If you have a cable subscription with AMC, watch Mad Men. Sally Draper is a surly teenager like #Katniss. You’ll like her. You can also buy 6 seasons of Mad Men on DVD and watch it on Netflix!
  3. While you’re online, check out the Netflix-exclusive Orange is the New Black. It’s about women in prison. Just like #Katniss is a prisoner of President #Snow’s manipulation.
  4. Make sure you have a subscription to Showtime too so you can watch Nurse Jackie. She’s ALSO surly and battled an addiction to #morphling.
  5. Sure, the #HungerGames are life-or-death but the country music business is tough too. Watch Nashville on ABC and you’ll see. Pretty much equal amounts of struggle going on.

Whatever you do, don’t mention the M-word. It’s just not the right time.

JJ

 

The Hunger Games Promotion Rule

Yes, he got an exciting premiere and a vacation in Hawaii out of it, but this has probably been a bit of a rough week for Sam Claflin.

Why, you ask? He’s been busy promoting his new movie, The Quiet Ones. We’ll even help by throwing in the trailer here:

But there’s not a whole lot of focus on the film at hand. If you’ve been watching the interviews, you know what we mean. There’s four questions tops that most media sites bother asking Sam:

1. So what’s this movie about?
2. It’s scary! What scares you?
3. How was all the 70s costuming?
4. Catching Fire! Mockingjay! Finnick! TELL US MORE.

We should note that it’s definitely not Sam-clusive. We know the same thing happened to Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth when they promoted other films, even on The Academy Awards red carpet. And in a way, we feel a little bad for them. We’re sure they don’t mind talking about The Hunger Games, but it must make them feel like their projects outside the series are pretty inconsequential in the eyes of the public (as we are represented by the media. Horrifying, isn’t it?!)

Of course, it doesn’t necessarily help that The Quiet Ones is a Lionsgate property and some of their advertising looks like this:

Now the young and/or easily confused among us Hunger Games fans believe Finnick has taken up a time-warp side job of filming supernatural phenomena! Not really… we hope.

We get it, interviewers ’round the world. The Hunger Games is a <strong>really big freaking deal</strong> and the fact that these actors are in the franchise is part of the reason why many fans will go see their other films in the first place. But let’s take it one film at a time.

We all know you’re going to ask Sam the same slew of exhausting questions once promotion for Mockingjay: Part 1 rolls around, so why not ask them then? Do you really think he’ll give you some crazy scoop in the meantime? Doubtful!

In the meantime, please try to come up with some creative questions surround the movie the actor in question is actually promoting. We know it’s not as big of a media draw, but this is something of value to them that they put work into, even if it’s not a major blockbuster. Give em some credit there! We’ll get back to Mockingjay en masse later!

He Sported That Hairdo, So Sam Deserves Credit!

The Girl With The Pearl

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

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

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