Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Secret of Success

The relative fortunes of John Carter and The Hunger Games mark a blow for cynical Hollywood campaigns and a triumph for story-telling

Two sci-fi epics. Two opposing box office trajectories. The comparative fortunes of The Hunger Games and John Carter have been notable.

The former has just smashed records at the US box office, taking $155mn on its opening weekend, the biggest ever opening for a film which was not a sequel. The latter is going to be a mega-flop, having returned the sort of figures which make Cleopatra look like a commercial success. It will lose Disney around $200mn.

The funny thing is that, as commercial prospects, the two are not dissimilar. True, The Hunger Games has a dedicated teen fan base, but the books, written by Suzanne Collins, have 2.9 million copies in print worldwide. This is no Twilight or Harry Potter, despite its phenomenal success on e-book formats.

Teen fanaticism aside, both are sci-fi adaptations of popular novels and both are aimed at family/teenager audiences. Yet one has been a horrific disaster, and the other has led to the popping of champagne corks in certain Hollywood offices.