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Late to the Trend, But Not This Time: My Experience with “The Hunger Games” Franchise

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

The new Hunger Games Movie, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” premiered on Nov. 17, 2023. The film stars Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth and is a prequel to “The Hunger Games” franchise, based on the series by Suzanne Collins. 

As of Dec. 8, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” has grossed $255.8 million worldwide. Many people have been nostalgic about their experiences seeing the original trilogy 10 years ago. Personally, I never watched “The Hunger Game” until my sophomore year of college, and when I tell people this, many people are shocked. However, in my defense, for the longest time I never understood why the original movies had fifth and sixth graders in the audience. The description for the first movie is, “Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve districts are chosen at random to fight to the death.” When the films came out, I personally was very scared of the synopsis so I never saw them and would use every bit of persuasion at sleepovers to select a different movie to watch instead.

When I watched the first movie about two years ago, I enjoyed the social commentary on inequality. Before this, what I knew about the films was that they are violent, and there is a love triangle. I knew the importance of being Team Gale or Team Peeta without having seen the movie. 

A few days later my friends and I watched the second movie, “Catching Fire.” When it ended I stared at the black television with my mouth open. I could not stop thinking about it for days. “Catching Fire” is one of those movies that when you watch it the second time, you see things you did not catch the first time around. I could hardly wait to watch the next two movies. 

“Mockingjay: Part 1” and “Mockingjay: Part 2” have a few iconic scenes, but lack the appeal that the first two possess.  This is a commonly held view, as the first two movies received around 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and the second two at only 70%. 

Since I watched the films so late, I didn’t share the same excitement as everyone who saw the films years ago. Therefore, in anticipation for the prequel, I was excited to see the film with my friends, see the film’s reviews and discuss my own opinions. The movie scored about the same as “Mockingjay Part 1” and “Mockingjay: Part 2” with a score on Rotten Tomatoes of 67%. 

The first two movies of the franchise set a high bar that seems challenging for the newer films to meet. However, I am mainly interested in the fact that people are talking about “The Hunger Games” again in person and on social media. Since it has become easier to watch movies on streaming platforms from home, I have missed the shared experience of watching a movie in theaters. The collective gasps and laughter at certain moments with audience members who are fans of the franchise is a communal experience that I noticed you cannot get at home or 10 years after it first comes out.

Senior at SLU constantly searching for small joys in all things!