Marching in the movies’ hit parade
What makes a new film a certified hit at the box office? Two movies’ strong showing illustrates, in different ways, what it takes for savvy producers to get to march in the movies’ hit parade:
The “Hunger Games” sequel, “Catching Fire,” heated up the box office in a really big way, not just because the first film was a blockbuster, so viewers were eager to see what would happen to their new fave heroes in their continuing struggle against the all-controlling futuristic regime that made life on planet Earth such a numbing, dehumanizing ordeal.
This second time around, the storytelling appealed even more to teen and young-adult oviegoers, who comprise today’s dominant film-viewing sector.
In its young lead player, Jennifer Lawrence, “Catching Fire” has the most appropriate and perfectly empathetic cinematic emblem and muse that many young people can relate to. The fact that she’s female is an even more astutely politically correct touch, since female screen heroines are the flavor of the year.
Best of all, aside from being vibrantly and dynamically youthful, Lawrence has also proven her exceptional acting chops by way of the awards she’s precociously won for past portrayals. Her ability to make her character believable and feelingly real is a definite hitmaking plus.
Some of the film’s developments are rather improbable, but the “humanizing” context that Lawrence’s textured and felt performance puts in place blunts their ability to irritate or distract.
Another strong hitmaking factor is “Catching Fire’s” “fight for survival” game template, which puts a deadly spin on the all too familiar current TV craze, the grim “reality challenge” competition represented by hits like “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.”
The fact that players are “actually” killed in this “fatal” version further galvanizes viewers’ emotions, making them root for the good guys in a particularly urgent and committed way.
The other recent hit film, “Thor: The Dark World,” presents other options for producers to score big at the box office. This is also a sequel, but it gets its unique dynamic vibe from staging its heroic legend in an “operatically” classical manner that makes it super-heroically bigger than life.
It gains additional dramatic and dynamic traction by mixing its time zones and contexts, with future, present and past interacting and intermingling with one another in many surprising ways.
Despite the tendency of its lead players to play it tendentiously sullen and sluggish, the production scores visual points that keep viewers fascinated.
Will there be another, concluding chapter to this new and prosperous film franchise? The answer to that intriguing question is—a foregone conclusion!
So, for that matter, are the future prospects of the even more prosperous “Hunger Games” franchise, as its young heroes continue to rebel against their cruel rulers’ all-controlling regime, in a righteous rebellion that will take at least two more blockbuster cinematic chapters to conclude!