During the past 5 years, many movies, books, and fads have come and gone. But, what is it that separates the Harry Potters from the duds, and the now seeming replacement The Hunger Games from others. Is there a specific reason, special literary recipe, or something else that draws audience towards these titles and away from others. What is it that captures their attention and keeps it?
A few weeks ago I was having a discussion with a few colleagues about why the recent John Carter, an adventure film by Disney was a flop? Many proposed that the marketing strategy was not on target. Instead of conveying that the movie was an adventure film with humor running throughout, it appeared to be an Avatar/Narnia movie also with Star Wars-esque feel; this is exactly what I perceived the movie to be.
However, as the discussion continued, I posed another answer, as to why The Hunger Games will be a blockbuster and John Carter fell flat. I suggested that perhaps it is the ideology of the hero, and the story of their struggle that is what really leads to the subsequent attraction and ticket sales.
I proposed that the younger audience identifies more with one kind of hero over another. Today’s younger audience appreciate the type of hero that first discovers something and then rises from his peers to overcome some injustice. For example, Harry Potter discovering the true origin of his roots, and then becomes a student at Hogwarts. While he is a pupil he participates in adventures, and overcomes obstacles, all leading toward one end, Voldemort.
In addition, to the popular series written by J.K. Rowling, The Hunger Games written by another woman, Suzanne Collins. She incorporates a similar hero structure, Katniss Everdeen rises up above her fellow adolescents. By using this ideology youth do not feel preached or lectured to. Unknowingly they accept that one of their own is setting the example, one from among the trusted crowd.
Not an outsider. Unfortunately, that is the ideology which John Carter ascribes to, or more likely, appears to be. I suggest the reason the seats were empty on the opening day for Disney’s latest release, was because youth did not identify with, or want to watch a movie they suspected would be heavy with message. In other words, they were not in the mood for a lecture from a character, which symbolizes outside authority. Instead, their appetite craves for a new fad which the hero, could be one of them. As older generations would describe, just the average Joe, but as today’s youth would characterize as, ONE OF US.
Lastly, but perhaps most important to the youthful audience is the connectivity of friends. If the generation as a whole does not together excite one another, the likely hood that the movie being a successful is not likely. For example, if teens and young adults do not support the midnight showings, or turn out for a big premiere weekend, creating a buzz and in turn a fad, the movie will just be added to a rush to DVD, in order to try and recoup the cost.
My advice to those of you who want to write stories meaningful for the youngsters out there: think about where your hero originates, and how different age groups can relate to them specifically.