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The Hunger Games Trailer Is Great Because It Leaves Room For Surprise

Yesterday the Internet was as on fire as Katniss's dress when the first trailer for The Hunger Games debuted online. Not only did it give us our first look at some of the key characters in the film, like Woody Harrelson as Haymitch and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, but it looked fantastic to boot. The Hunger Games, the book by Suzanne Collins that's the first in a trilogy, isn't nearly as complicated as a Harry Potter book or overwrought as Twilight, but it poses plenty of challenges to filmmakers who want to both appeal to the book's diehard fans and make, y'know, a half decent movie out of it.

A huge part of the trailer's success had nothing to do with the movie itself, but plain old marketing. Nearly every scene in the trailer comes from the first third of the book, leading up to the dramatic moment when Katniss and the other tributes leap off their platforms into the arena where they'll fight to their deaths. This is practical for telling a story in the confined space of the trailer-- a lot of character introductions and development happen in the first half of the book-- but also dangles the fantastic promise of what will come next in the arena. If you haven't read the books, all you know is that the kids are being sent there to fight each other, right? And if you've read them, you know it's going to be so much more. Either way, you're bound to be more intrigued than you would if the trailer, like so many other these days, had given away many more of its plot points.

The challenge now, with The Hunger Games still more than four months away from its release, is to maintain that sense of mystery. That's something the Twilight films, and especially Harry Potter in its later installments, got really terrible about doing. If you browse our image gallery from Deathly Hallows Part 2, for example, you see stills from almost every scene in the movie. Those are the scenes that fans are expecting to see, and to placate them Warner Bros. revealed almost everything, squandering a lot of opportunities for surprise.

The Hunger Games, as something new, should want to maintain as much mystery as possible. So far they're doing an excellent job of it-- sometimes, like with the five-second trailer clip, too good a job. I'm hoping we see them continue to play their cards close to the vest, so that when The Hunger Games comes to theaters on March 23, even those of us intimately familiar with the books will have plenty of surprises awaiting us. The Gamemakers behind the Hunger Games are generally callow and awful, but they also love surprise; maybe that's one inspiration the people at Lionsgate can take from them.

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend