Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - New Poster Released

Lionsgate have released a new poster for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (see right), and although it's very visually pleasing, I have mixed feelings about it.

The poster depicts the series' heroine, Katniss Everdeen, gazing out on a cliff's edge while clutching her trademark bow by her side. The imagery is reminiscent of a vintage painting though it will struggle to attract your attention unless you know to look for it.

The one-sheet focuses heavily on the star power of recent Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, but also follows the recent trend of tone setting.

Katniss is standing at the edge of a cliff in a pose that depicts her newfound serene outlook on life. She has just survived the 74th Annual Hunger Games, a feat that brings a sense of freedom that very few people her age experience.

Aside from her empowered yet reflective pose, this freedom is symbolised in the clouds, which create a mockingjay-type shape. However, this very deliberate arrangement is clearly more symbolic of Katniss than it is a representation of the iconic bird of Panem. Notice the positioning, she obscures the mockingjay shaped clouds but is perfectly situated between the wings, and therefore can be deemed as a metaphorical representation of her own freedom.

The poster can also be interpreted another way, Katniss is only ever truly happy when she is hunting but several aspects of this poster indicate that she is forbidden to do so. Is she in a state of reflection or is she wary of being caught beyond the District 12 perimeter? Another is the fact that her bow is noticeably lowered by her side, a clear sign of reluctance, be it to fight or to hunt. However, the most poignant is undoubtedly her location at the edge of the cliff. This symbolises that her freedom and subsequent rebellious nature may be short lived and that one false move will have dire consequences and she has nowhere to run.

Isolation is another key feature in this poster, Katniss has achieved unfathomable fame after winning the Hunger Games, yet she is alone. She quite clearly cannot be herself around others and must construct an entirely different persona. This is the truest sense of isolation and indicates that the lowered bow is likely a result of this isolation and consequently it symbolises a forced conformity.

The vintage style of the poster is beautiful, however it's simply too bland to be effective. This is another one-sheet for the hardcore fans, but what about those who are uninitiated or undecided? The image would look fantastic on a bedroom wall, but will it convince a non-fan to see this movie? Doubtful.

Catering to the fans is ultimately futile, most will be loyal and immediately flock to see the movie on the opening weekend, ensuring a huge opening three-day gross. However, that momentum cannot be sustained unless non-fans are convinced that this is a must-see movie.

Yes, there are six months before the film's theatrical release but competition will be fierce and an aggressive early marketing campaign may be more beneficial, as opposed to a tranquil albeit visually stunning approach. The latter will likely be overshadowed by superior campaigns for certain blockbusters such as The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Thor: The Dark World.

The poster for Catching Fire (see below, left) is clearly an intentional reaction to its predecessor (see below, right):

In contrast, the poster for The Hunger Games details everything we need to know about the movie, from a strong female character to the action-packed scenario. There is a clear focus.

It is, in my opinion a vastly superior one-sheet. Of course it is vital that the marketing strategy doesn't simply rehash their campaign, but it is important to engage audiences not bore them with bland pretty pictures.

The very obvious attitude that made the first film so visually engaging and exciting, seems to be absent from the marketing campaign for Catching Fire. They may rediscover it as the campaign progresses, and it will be very welcome, because the sequel currently has the feel of an art house indie film, not a big budget Christmas blockbuster.

Here's a few teaser posters for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire:

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is due for release in the US and UK on 22nd November 2013.

Here's a brief synopsis:

After winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) returns home to District 12 along with fellow winner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). After shortly returning home, they must embark on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts, leaving behind their close friends and family. During the tour, Katniss senses that a rebellion is brewing in the districts, but the Capitol is still firmly in control as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games, known as a Quarter Quell.

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