The final installment of “The Hunger Games” comes out later in November. But Katniss Everdeen fans take heart: the dystopian book trilogy turned movie empire will live on. In theme parks.
Lions Gate Entertainment confirmed Monday it is developing theme park rides and other attractions based on the “Hunger Games,” “Step Up” and “Divergent” movie franchises, along with others in the studio’s portfolio.
If you’re familiar with the “Hunger Games,” you know the stories are about children forced to fight each other to the death. How will that translate to a theme-park ride?
“I think it would be quite challenging,” said Phil Hettema, founder of The Hettema Group, a firm that designs themed attractions. He worked for Disney and Universal Studios for years.
“In bringing an intellectual property to life, you need to check the boxes of all of the things that people are most familiar with in that franchise,” he said.
Leave something out, and fans could be disappointed. Fortunately there are plenty of family-friendly themes in the “Hunger Games” stories, like loyalty and skill, Hettema said.
“The ‘killing of children’ box could remain unchecked,” he said.
Movie studios are clamoring to cash in on their intellectual property around the world. There is a Warner Bros. park in Spain with a “Superman” roller coaster. Twentieth Century Fox has a new one coming in Malaysia, with attractions based on movies like “Ice Age” and “Planet of the Apes.” Lionsgate is partnering with theme parks in Dubai and near Atlanta, and an “immersive entertainment center” near Macau.
Parks themselves bring in billions of dollars in revenue worldwide, but there is a bigger payoff, said David Cobb with the design firm Thinkwell Group.
“Positive word of mouth, knowing that the brand lives on beyond the movies that you saw — there’s all sorts of reasons for brands to look at the real world as a place for these heretofore ephemeral brands to live,” Cobb said.
That is, if the attractions are done well, said Bob Rogers with BRC Imagination Arts.
“A lot of the studios — at least on their first pass — just think that by licensing their name and their logo and their characters, that causes an attraction,” he said. “Just because you have the characters doesn’t mean you have the ride.”