This post has been updated to include comments from readers:
Here’s the movie poster:
Here’s the book cover:
Reel Girl blog readers from the UK and New Zealand report spotting the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, on posters in their countries. Katniss was also pictured on the first paperback UK version. Since the movie, she’s vanished from all covers.
The U.S. pb edition never showed Katniss.
Google images also shows “Hunger Games” movie posters with Katniss, but I haven’t seen any around the Bay Area. Have you? Or in your city/ town? Please let me know and even better, send me a photo.
Katniss Everdeen is played in the movie by Jennifer Lawrence who was nominated for an Academy Award for “Winter’s Bone.” You’d think that “The Hunger Games” marketing department would want to highlight such a popular and critically acclaimed actress.
Or maybe not.
In an article titled “Gender Games” The Wall Street Journal reports that the book’s publisher, “Scholastic, considered dozens of cover designs, including portraits of Katniss, before settling on a more ‘iconic’ image of a bird pendant that plays a role in the story.”
The WSJ also reports that the film studio, Lion’s Gate, is hopeful that in spite of the female protagonist, males will go see this movie:
“Set in a dystopian future, “The Hunger Games” centers on Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl who is called upon to fight 23 other teens to the death in a twisted annual survival competition that is televised to the nation of Panem. The quick pace, strong characters and blood sport of author Suzanne Collins’s trilogy helped attract a robust male readership.”
In some ways, this marketing strategy is good news, because Hollywood will not be toning down Katniss’s character to play up the romance angle:
“They’ve taken away the love story and focused on the hero, who, by virtue of her altruism and fire, is going to stand up against this situation,” says Vincent Bruzzese, president of Ipsos MediaCT’s Motion Picture Group, which does market research for movie studios and filmmakers. “What they are doing is marketing the archetypal themes that are gender-neutral.”
Jezebel posts: “Maybe, though, it’d be encouraging to see a movie with a dominant female lead transcend the demographic corrals studio analysts have split us all into.”
If “gender neutral” means keeping the focus on Katniss’s heroics and not her relationship, I’m all for that. Moving past those limited “demographic corrals” would be great. So if I have to give up Katniss on the movie poster to keep the narrative from getting watered down to romance, I suppose that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
Still, I look forward to the day when a Academy Award nominee can show up on the poster for her own movie without fear that she’ll scare the boys away.
Also, if they let Lawrence on the poster, maybe they’d pay her more money. Women and Hollywood reports that she’s earning $500,000 for her role. Compare that to Chris Pine, a young male action star and not Academy Award nominated, who earned $3 million for “Unstoppable.” Women and Hollywood writes: “She’s on the poster, is clearly the lead, yet still doesn’t get paid the same as the guys.”
But what if she’s not on the poster?
Furthermore, this same kind of invisible-female sexism has a powerful influence on movies marketed to little kids. Movie posters for kids continuously picture no females at all or females on the sidelines. Take a look at Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing from Kids’ Movies in 2011.
Parents should not let five year old boys have the power to make five year old girls disappear. The gender imbalance in animated movies isn’t really about five year old boys anyway. It’s about their parents. Parents are the ones who buy books, movie tickets, and toys. Just because adults live in a sexist world, doesn’t mean our kids should be trained to keep repeating it. At the very least, adults could be doing much more to present the next generation with imaginary worlds where sexism doesn’t exist. Yet, in kid-movie-world, females are represented as a tiny minority. Girls are half of the kid population. It’s time that Hollywood recognized that by putting females on movie posters, and of course, in the movies as well.