Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday Morning Quarterback: The Mockingjay Part 2 edition


Problem: The fourth installment of The Hunger Games film franchise opened lower than expected.

(Retroactive) solution: Target the underserved markets that were represented in the film.


How could the Power of Diversity translate into a bigger box office for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2?

Here is a SWOT analysis of the film, followed by four concrete ways to get more butts in seats:


Strengths
  • Mockingjay Part 2's opening weekend box office was $101 million domestic and $247 million worldwide
  • Jennifer Lawrence stars in the franchise that made her a household name, along with a passel of other famous actors
  • Three prior success blockbusters, based on the beloved series of books

Weaknesses
  • Lower opening weekend than the previous three films, not accounting for either inflation or increase in ticket prices since the first film opened in 2012 
  • 17% decline in box office from Part 1's opening weekend
  • Not enough new elements to justify splitting the third book into two movies
  • Not enough story, too many characters with nothing to do  
    • For reals, y'all. Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks are doing what they can with what they have, and Jena Malone is throwing shade and chewing up scenery. But they could contribute so much more with their own arcs, regardless of the source material in the book. Stanley Tucci deserves more than a propo intro. See Gosford Park for how to manage an engaging, yet large, cast of characters.

Opportunities
  • The Hunger Games has been marketed everywhere. But it doesn't look special, with no commemoration for the end of the series, like Twilight did. Remind audiences this is the last movie, so make it an event and go see it in the theater. Encouraging people to dress up like Katniss would have been nice.

Threats
  • Star Wars. The seventh film doesn't open till December of this year, but the big marketing push started before Mockingjay Part 2 debuted. With audiences being fed messaging about The Force Awakens in areas like ABC's TGIT and Wal-Mart commercials, the latest Hunger Games movie seems like old news.
  • The other films opening the same weekend as Mockingjay Part 2:
    • The Night Before, with promotions mirroring the ubiquity of Mockingjay, but with humor
    • Secret in Their Eyes, which is a more prestigious Taken
    • Legend, something about Tom Hardy?
    • Carol, a Cate Blanchett movie with minimal indie promotion


If I did it...

1. Announce that North America will have its first black woman President. And explain how she gets her perm done in post-apocalyptic Panem.

This is a female-driven franchise. But "white women" does not equal "all women." Not by a long shot.

If Lionsgate had asked Patina Miller to appear on daytime talk shows, late night talk shows, radio shows, podcasts, blogs, or a well-placed tweet promoting Mockingjay Part 2, mentioning that b-t-dubs, I'm going to be America's next President--tying the movie into the relevance of the current election season, then maybe "Mockingjay Part 2" would have been trending on its opening night.

And maybe more black women than solely me would have made seeing the movie a priority and shown up opening weekend.


2. Cast more than one person of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in a speaking role, preferably one who has a large fan base in China. The country, with a population of 1.4 billion people, is the world's second-largest box office market, as well the movie's second largest box office market.


3. Cast one identifiably Hispanic or Latin@ person anywhere in the film.

It's 2015. Hispanic and Latin@ audiences drive the domestic box office. How do you have no Hispanic or Latin@ representation in a movie set in North America and expect to have a robust domestic opening weekend?


4. Give Evan Ross a line. Or anything of significance to do, besides being another dead black man. Boggs already filled that quota, along with achieving Magical Negro status.

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