Hungry no longer?
(HN, March 6, 2012) -- Next month brings the launch of one of Hollywood's most anticipated `book-turned-film series' of 2012, The Hunger Games. In the spirit of others before it - "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" - author Suzanne Collins's bestselling young-adult adventure book trilogy features teenaged heroine Katniss Everdeen and depicts a remade North America, run by a dystopian dictatorship.
Renamed Panem and ruled by the governing body called `The Capitol' a highly advanced metropolis which holds absolute power over the rest of the nation, The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding `The Capitol' are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.
Since its initial publishing in 2008, the novel has been translated into 26 different languages and rights of production have been sold in 38 countries. "The Hunger Games" is the first novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, followed by Catching Fire, published on September 1, 2009, and Mockingjay, published on August 24, 2010.
The film adaptation, which will be released on March 23, was written and produced by Collins herself and directed by Gary Ross. The cast features Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale with cameo's by notable's Wood Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, and singer Lenny Kravitz.
Collins has said that the inspiration to write The Hunger Games came from channel surfing on television. On one channel she observed people competing on a reality show and on another she saw footage of the invasion of Iraq. The two "began to blur in this very unsettling way" and the idea for the book was formed.
So where on Earth would a Hollywood producer film a futuristic Panem that would live up to the enormous interest in the storyline of The Hunger Games and be believable? North Carolina, USA of course. In fact, The Hunger Games was shot almost entirely on location in the southern US state - Asheville, Charlotte, Concord, DuPont State Forest, Hildebran, North Fork Reservoir, Pisgah National Forest, and Shelby.
The US is obviously one of the biggest nations on the planet. And, if The Hunger Games premise were to come true, would be taken over by a New `North American' order in Panem.
But it's one of the world's tiniest territories that is reaping the rewards of one of the most waited-for movies of the year.
Which territory is this? Pitcairn of course.
The Pitcairn Islands are a group of 4 volcanic islands Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean which stretch between Tahiti, and Easter Island. The islands are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and have a total land area of about 18 square miles. Only Pitcairn, the second largest island with only about 48 people, is inhabited; and only from 4 families: Christian, Warren, Young, and Brown.
Pitcairn is the least populous jurisdiction in the world (though it is not a sovereign nation). The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation includes the Pitcairn Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The islands are a British Overseas Territory and have alternately been `found' by both Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 1600's. The original settlers of the Pitcairn Islands were Polynesians.
As far as Hollywood goes, the islands are best known as home of the descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers (British, who came to the islands in the 1700's); and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films.
But now, with The Hunger Games, Lionsgate, the film's distributor has expanded its promotional campaign to be as `experiential' for fans as possible. As if Panem actually existed.
And what would a fictitious Panem have as its web address? Likely something with the .PN URL - which just happens to be, the web domain of the smallest populated territory on the planet, Pitcairn.
According to Movieline, this unique designation was a "happy coincidence with a financial benefit" to Bill Haigh, the governmental registrar for Pitcairn's domain offices, which provides the web affiliation for companies to protect their brand, and he says the proceeds "go a long way toward the islands' infrastructural upkeep".
The island’s internet domain name sales are reportedly now bringing in as much income as Pitcairn postage stamps or the islands other export, honey; equaling "tens of thousands of dollars", he says.
Again, Movieline reports that, "While it's impossible to know how many .PN's will be registered, an online registry shows already established PN's as Capitol.pn, and CapitolCouture.pn; there are registrations for Panem's various districts (District1.pn, through District13.pn), and each of the main characters have their own addresses (e.g. PresidentSnow.pn)".
At approximately $75 per registrar the islands could go a long way towards creating revenue for real things it needs support for such as telecommunications, supply shipping, children's education, and medical care among other modern day staples.
ACTUAL, GLOBAL HUNGER
In an interview with Suzanne Collins, she stated that the books "challenge the reader to explore issues such as severe poverty, starvation, oppression, and the effects of war among others".
The starvation and need for resources that Panem citizens experience both in and outside of the `Hunger Games' arena create an atmosphere of survival that the main characters try to overcome in their fight for self preservation. She goes on to say, "The choices the characters make and the strategies they use are often morally complex."
So it's no surprise then that a film called "The Hunger Games" is a perfect fit for messaging around the poverty, hunger and famine issues plaguing many countries and millions of people across the world.
In fact a month before the release of the film opening on March 23, the cast and producers teamed up with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Feeding America to raise awareness about global hunger - launching a public service video and a new website wfp.org/hungergames with the movie’s stars urging fans of the film to help end hunger and malnutrition.
Hunger affects 1 in 7 people in the world – almost one billion men, women and children who go to bed every night not having enough to eat or enough nutrition to sustain them. "The Hunger Games" campaign states that for just $5 a month, Feeding America and WFP will help to provide at least 20 meals to someone in need.
“This partnership will help us spread the word that hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem,” said Nancy Roman, Director of Communications of WFP, adding that millions of readers identified with the characters in The Hunger Games trilogy and are excited about the upcoming movie. “We want to tap into that excitement."
Said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO, Feeding America, "There is enough food to feed everyone living in the US, but it’s not getting to millions of low-income people who need it”.
With early projections of $100 million dollar success already being hyped in Hollywood for The Hunger Games launch - the cast has set out on a mall tour speaking to thousands of people ahead of the movie's release.
Looking towards the future, Suzanne Collins, her directing partner Gary Ross and Lionsgate aren't waiting for the film to open to begin the next chapter. They are already anticipating that The Hunger Games will `Catch Fire' - and the only way to keep a flame burning, is to keep going.
So weeks before The Hunger Games even arrives in theaters, the script for "Catching Fire" - the sequel - has already been written and is being reviewed by Collin's herself according to the NY Daily News.
Lionsgate has already announced a release date of November 22, 2013 for the sequel and filming is set to begin rolling in the fall, with stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson all returning.
Indeed, "Catching Fire" is also what the The Hunger Games beneficiaries hope will happen too.
A three film trilogy that could potentially bring worldwide awareness of the inequity of life which the millions who face hunger and poverty around the world deal with every day? A blockbuster, made in North Carolina which brings global awareness to the world's least populated territory?
Perhaps, the real legacy of "The Hunger Games" could mean `Hunger no longer'. Now that's a blockbuster.