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Main | Remembering 5 Years of The Hunger Games - Casting Katniss »
Thursday
Mar232017

Remembering 5 Years of The Hunger Games - YA Novel to Worldwide Phenomenon 

 

Can you believe it’s been five years since The Hunger Games opened in movie theaters in North America?! To mark this special occasion, we've got a couple of great guest posts from some of our fellow fan site favorites. First up, Courtney from WelcomeToDistrict12.com takes us through the excitement of being one of the first fansites as The Hunger Games became a phenomenon. 

The World WAS Watching...

On March 4th, 2012 my alarm woke me up very early to get ready for the first Hunger Games fan event. I was bouncing off the walls with excitement! This was the first time I would be with fellow fans partying up at the Hunger Games Mall Tour kick-off at Century City in L.A. According to the rules, wristbands were to be given for meet and greet at 8 am, and no one would be allowed to line up before that. I mean, Hunger Games was semi-popular on Tumblr, so how crowded could it really be? 

 

 

Never for a second did I think The Hunger Games would be classified as a "phenomenon." THG was an intelligent story about war for young adult readers. The last phenomenon, in my opinion, that deserved its popularity was Harry Potter and THG being in the same category was a pie in the sky dream. In fact, I was just hoping it was popular enough to get us to the Mockingjay film. OH, HOW WRONG I WAS.

 
It was pure fan girl/boy insanity. There were hundreds of fans, cosplay, signs, and just all around craziness. I ended up scoring a meet and greet on the fly and experienced the Q and A from the pit. It was clear from this that The Hunger Games fandom was very much alive and a force to be reckoned with.

Only about 30% of the entire crowd pictured here
 

To get an idea of the mania, here is a video I took of the fans in the pit while they played the trailer. The fans went ballistic...

 

 

1 year and five months earlier....

 I had to talk about these books with someone. ANYONE. It was quickly becoming my favorite books of all time, and my friends had not read them yet. So I turned to Tumblr and made a page: F*** Yeah District 12!

I became a member of The Hunger Games fandom on October 11th, 2010. I discussed many book events and reported on developments on the upcoming film to be released more than a year later. In this time, things drastically changed. A Tumblr movement called Panem October (the precursor to TheCapitol.pn) had people creating tumblrs just for the district they got put in, and I had an influx of people flocking to F***YeahDistrict12 on the assumption of that it was the tumblr for District 12. Sometime after this, I appeared on HG Fireside Chat and became more involved in the podcast. Back then, tons of fans gathered on Twitter and listened every Monday night. In just a few months, HG Fireside Chat became a staple in the THG Fandom. Shout out to the hosts Adam and Savanna for being the pioneers of Hunger Games fan awareness! (be sure to listen in to the reunion show Monday, March 27th at 9pm ET/6pm PT!)

The announcement of Katniss' casting in March 2011 and the first look at Katniss in Entertainment Weekly in May led fans old and new all aboard the hype train. Choo choo! In the coming months, THG fans would break the VMA ratings record (first THG teaser aired), and I finally made the decision to graduate the tumblr to a website. I brought in my closest friends Tiffany and Denise, and Welcome To District 12 became our new identity (and a name I didn't have to be embarrassed about when talking to my relatives). From that point on our goal was to bring about fan hype and experiencing as many Hunger Games events as possible.

Come November, fans were clamoring hard core for the first trailer of The Hunger Games. As a member of the fan site community, Lionsgate invited some site runners to see it early. Not only were Lionsgate employees eager to see our reaction, but they were so thrilled to show us what they had. It was evident how enthusiastic they were about the project and they genuinely wanted our input. 

March 2012 remains to this day the busiest month of my life. In between human existence, posting news, and attending THG events I could barely keep up. The month kicked off with the Hunger Games Mall Tour, which was a serious reality check on just how huge the fandom was. If you won't take my word for it, check out what Josh Hutcherson said in an issue of Entertainment Weekly: 


The most incredible thing during all this was the way THG was connecting me with people from all over the world. Fans started forming friendships, all linked by a story. As for me, I will never forget the day my fan site friends flew into L.A. for the THG premiere. We were all together for the first time, and there was a feeling in the air that we were part of something special. While these dedicated fans were in town, we experienced the first Hunger Games Fan Camp and the premiere.

 
The Hunger Games Fan Camp has been put on twice: for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. It's an event in which fans camp out at LA Live for a few days. Lionsgate brought cast members to sign posters for fans, radio station giveaways, swag from sponsors, and in the case of Catching Fire, put on a screening of The Hunger Games. When premiere day comes, fans get a spot on the side of the red carpet as well as getting to see the film. It's without a doubt, the best thing a studio can do for its film if the fan base is large enough. Camping out with fellow fans builds camaraderie and morale which flows right into social media promotion. Here's a look at how the first fan camp went:

 

Jennifer came to sign photos at the fan camp, a rare appearance before her super-duper stardom status

Denise & JoshFan site group photo at the first THG fan campMore pics from the event.  

The premiere was electrifying. You could feel Hunger Games insanity in the air. The fan area, the screaming fans across the street, the media circus, it truly felt like the world WAS watching. I'm still super jel about my friend Denise being in the fan area for the first film. While we visited the fan camp, she camped out (it looked so fun it inspired me to attend the one for Catching Fire) and took lots of pictures for us.  Media outlets like to use press photos from that event for their articles even to this day, and sometimes I chuckle to myself because I can see Denise in it!

 

There was something incredibly special about the fandom surrounding the first film, and while the fan base has grown, nothing can match the energy and anticipation for the first film. This was personal for me, and it didn't just have to do with the film or even the books. The fan site runners, at least the ones I was close with, we formed friendships with one another a good year before we physically met. When we finally did meet for premiere madness, I felt a sense of universal humanity for these people and the story that linked us all together. Now, things have changed. Time and life events cause us to move on to other things, such as new opportunities, relationships, and interests. For the most part, we're all still involved in the fandom but its definitely not the way it used to be. I like to think it was just one of those things that was meant to be a new exciting experience but doesn't last forever. That is not to say the fandom now is less important, quite the contrary. Life changes and people change. Things will never be how they once were, and we as humans are perpetually moving forward. The fandom has grown astronomically since the first film giving the franchise more support and the ability to be successful. The number of fan sites (Hello Panem Propaganda!) has grown since that time, and we have more fans than ever creating art, cosplay, recipes, and more all in the name of love for The Hunger Games. I have seen my favorite book series blossom and skyrocket into chart-topping popularity, and sometimes, even now at the end, I still can't believe it's real.......or not real? See what I did there?

 

Huge thanks to Courtney from WelcometoDistrict12.com for this awesome walk down memory lane. For more THG memories, tune in to the HG Fireside Chat reunion show Monday, March 27th at 9pm ET/6pm PT!

 

 

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