‘The Hunger Games’ Midnight Premiere: “It’s Pita Bread!” (A Spoiler-Free Commentary)

Most people would probably say that 23 is a little old to be going to midnight premieres of movies based on young adult books. To those people I say, we are bound not by age, but by our ability to function on three to four hours of sleep. My love for The Hunger Games definitely outweighs my desire to get a good night’s rest. In fact, I don’t want to brag, but I’ve sort of made an art out of midnight movie premieres. I’ve been to every Harry Potter midnight premiere since Prisoner of Azkaban, and I plan to continue my legacy by attending the premieres of all the future Hunger Games movies. Why, you ask? Why subject yourself to hoards of screaming fans, why stay up until 3 AM on a Thursday night just to see the very first showing of the movie? For one thing, I’ve waited three years for this moment, so waiting another 12 hours just sounds like torture. There’s something so special to me about seeing my favorite books brought to life, and next to Harry Potter, The Hunger Games is my favorite book. What makes The Hunger Games even more special is that, unlike Harry Potter, there was a time back when there was only one book, and no one had heard of it, when a movie adaptation was just a daydream. And now it’s finally coming true.

Another part of the appeal of the midnight premiere is the atmosphere. There’s something to be said about being surrounded by people who are as passionate as you are about the source material of the movie you’re about to see. Personally, I can say that I am someone who has always been deeply affected by books, and I feel at home around other fanatics like myself who are so devoted that they’re willing to stand in line for five hours to see the movie adaptation, even if most of those fans happen to be between the ages of 12 and 18. There is a slight downside to this, however. My friend (also a 23-year-old Harry Potter veteran and Hunger Games fan) was lamenting the myriad of “TEAM PEETA” shirts, complaining that this isn’t Twilight; there’s no need for “teams.” Anyone who’s read the books can tell you that The Hunger Games is about much more than a love triangle. The romance takes a backseat to important themes like survival and family devotion. My friend was convinced that the audience (which consisted of predominantly teenagers) was going to erupt into high-pitched squeals whenever anything exciting happened. While I shared her concern, I had a little more faith in the Hunger Games fan base, and was hopeful that they would recognize when it is and isn’t appropriate to squeal (i.e. never). To their credit, our theater responded perfectly to everything, from the chuckles and snorts at the somewhat ridiculous-looking Breaking Dawn: Part II trailer, to the robust laughter at Stanley Tucci’s spot-on turn as Caesar Flickerman, to the respectful applause at the end credits. At the end of the movie, I really felt like giving everyone in the theater a handshake and being like, “Thank you for your completely appropriate audience reactions.”

Most of the attendees were dressed for the occasion in some manner. Aside from the aforementioned “TEAM PEETA” and “TEAM GALE” shirts, there were plenty of mockingjay tees, a few poofy-haired, pink-lipped Effie Trinkets, and a girl with an actual quiver of arrows. My favorite costume was probably the guy in a black t-shirt with—I kid you not—pita bread taped to the front of it. The best part was when I said, “Nice shirt,” as I passed him in the concession line, and he smiled proudly and responded, “Thanks! It’s pita bread!” as if it needed explanation. As if I would compliment someone’s shirt with bread taped to it if I didn’t understand that it was in fact pita bread, in honor of the character Peeta in the movie we’re all about to see. But thanks for the clarification, guy.

All in all, it was an amazing experience. Despite my few nit-picky qualms with a couple scenes in the film, I’m still of the mindset of just being grateful that the movie exists, which at one time was more than I could have hoped for. So I’m willing to let go of my obsessive need for movies to stay perfectly true to the books. Most of the changes were perfectly justified and helped strengthen the film. Gary Ross created a fantastic and faithful adaptation of the book that upholds the feel and soul of The Hunger Games. I think I speak for a lot of fans when I say that at the end of the movie, I was suddenly overcome with this feeling of, “What now?” The answer, of course, is wait. We wait 608 days until November 22nd, 2013, when Catching Fire, the second installment in the Hunger Games series, will be released in theaters. Until then, I hope you enjoyed the first film, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

-Louise

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Posted on March 23, 2012, in Books, Film and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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