Why grown-ups love the Hunger Games, too

A view of fans at The 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Knoxville Screening at Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 on November 19, 2013 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The second Hunger Games film, "Catching Fire," opened  last Friday.  It earned almost $160 million over the weekend, a record for a November release.   And adults are lining up to see the movie, right next to teenaged fans. 

 I'll be one of them.  I read the Harry Potter books and the Hunger Games series, saw the movies and loved every minute of them.  But why are so many adults, like me, attracted by entertainment aimed at young adults?  Tom Adams thinks he knows.

He says, “Grown ups want to be kids.”

Adams is research director, US Media,  for IHS.   He read the Harry Potter books with his kids, saw those movies and the first Hunger Games movie.

He explains, “One of the greatest ways to forget that you’re a 55-year-old is to go into a dark movie theater and have an amazing story about young adults told.”

David Levithan is vice president , publisher and editorial director of Scholastic.  He published the Hunger Games books.   The books focus on struggles against oppression.   A very adult theme.   Levithan says there’s another reason for the adult appeal of the Hunger Games and Harry Potter movies.  They used big, older stars.

He says, “Once the franchises established themselves they knew they could get incredible talent, which does have appeal both to the teens and adults.”

But Levithan says these movies are firmly marketed at the teen audience.  They just happen to appeal to adults,  too.  Same with the books.   Elizabeth Chandler is co-founder of Goodreads.com.   She followed the progress of the Hunger Games series.

She says, “We noticed that the same number of 32 year olds are reading the book as the number of 15 year olds.”             

Chandler says it boils down to this.  Whether you’re talking about Hunger Games,  the Twilight series, or Harry Potter, if it’s a great, gut wrenching story, people will read it. 

 

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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