#PopCulture_Junkie: Fans Move Movie Box Office Odds in Mockingjay’s Favor


Murray Close/Lionsgate/MCT

From left, Commander Paylor (Patina Miller), Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), and Pollux (Elden Henson) in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.”

As I entered into the doors of my local movie theater, my senses were under attack. The smell of popcorn instantly struck my nose, the sound of the large crowd of people standing in line assailed my ears, and the now iconic mockingjay pierced my eyes from every angle.

The movie-going experience started innocently enough. My younger sister and I bought tickets to re-watch “Gone Girl,” but, for a second, I thought I had stepped into the wrong place.

Katniss Everdeen’s picture was everywhere – her braid, her bow, her pin –they were everywhere.

The trailers littered my television screen all week and it broadcasted the same message: the rebellion was starting. With a clever marketing campaign and a devout band of followers, it was clear the fictional world of Panem was not the only place the rebellion threatened – our backyard was in danger too.

For Panem, Katniss Everdeen is the symbol of hope, the sole mockingjay in a world filled with The Capitol’s ravenous mutts, but in today’s society, Katniss Everdeen is the symbol of female strength.

In a world dominated by male action films (seriously, are we ever going to get a female-centered super-hero film?), it is refreshing to see a female take on the government while wielding a weapon.

When Jennifer Lawrence signed on to play Katniss Everdeen, she was a relative unknown. The only time anyone heard of her was when she received an Oscar nomination for her role in “Winter’s Bone.” Now, she is a household name who is on the fast track to becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars – ever.

The first movie in the series, “The Hunger Games,” not only introduced the world to Katniss, but also to the haphazardly drunk Haymitch Abernathy, the effervescent Effie Trinket, the “cousin” Gale Hawthorne, and the “star-crossed” lover Peeta Mellark.

Whereas, the second film, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” delved deeper into the characterization of the key players and allowed the viewers a darker insight into what was happening in the other 11 districts.

This film, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” is centered in the now defunct District 13 and will focus on Katniss’ mental state after her closest ally is ripped from her. While there is less action in this film, it allows Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson (who plays Peeta) a chance to display their acting chops and it will, hopefully, give Liam Hemsworth (Gale) the chance to stop looking like he’s constipated all the time.

Considering the ticket sales of the last two films in the series, it is likely this film will be one of the year’s top grossing films and millions of people will, once again, stand in line to see it. It seems insane to me that Lionsgate (the production company) would shell out an enormous amount of money on advertising when social media and crazed fans could do half of the marketing at a fraction of the cost.

It works though, in a strange way. Between holding a mockingjay-plastered cup and watching the movie’s trailer before my film started, my mind was constantly thinking about “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.” The marketing strategy hardly makes sense, but it is effective.

However, phenomena hardly ever make sense. The franchise is captivating, the story is compelling, and the actors are likable. “The Hunger Games” and its sequels help fill the hole left in the hearts of Americans since Harry Potter and his lightning bolt scar “disapparated” out of theaters.

So, here is to hoping when we watch the film for the first time, we will receive yet another fantastic line about mahogany from Effie Trinket or hear someone say “may the odds, be ever in your favor,” so we can continue quoting it until the final installment hits theaters.