'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2': The legacy of the hit movie series

'Hunger Games' stars Jennifer Lawrence as protagonist Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a dystopian society and battles a repressive government. The final movie in the series will be released later this month.

Murray Close/Lionsgate/AP
The 'Hunger Games' movie series stars Jennifer Lawrence (r.) and Liam Hemsworth (l.).

The newest “Hunger Games” film, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” opens on Nov. 20, bringing to a close the lucrative movie series based on the books by Suzanne Collins.

What effect did the popularity of the film series have on Hollywood's production of teen-aimed films? 

We are seeing the “Hunger Games” effect in the form of several dystopian stories aimed at young adults being brought to the big screen. The “Divergent” series, which is based on the book series of the same name by Veronica Roth, is still being released in theaters, with the third, “The Divergent Series: Allegiant,” due next March.

The “Maze Runner” series, which is based on the books by James Dashner, continues as well, with the second movie having been released this past September, and a third, “The Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” due in 2017.

The movie “The 5th Wave,” which is based on the series of the same name by Rick Yancey, will be released this January. There are multiple books planned in Yancey’s series and more movies will presumably arrive if “Wave” is a hit.

As for what themes these films are presenting to the young moviegoers who go to them (52 percent of those who went to the opening weekend for “Mockingjay – Part 1” were under 25), almost all of these stories center around a teenager who becomes important in a fight against an evil government or group trying to control them.

Why do these themes resonate with teens? 

Telegraph writer Amanda Craig says her daughter told her, "All your generation want to do is go and see comedies like 'Noises Off.' At least we’re thinking about politics and the future." Many of these stories show a dark future for the world, one that must be defeated. Despite the dystopian setting, the struggles of the protagonists are ones teens can relate to, one female teenager told the Guardian. "It's the way the characters are oppressed and have to fight to get their voices heard," she said of the appeal of dystopian young adult titles. "That's how you can feel as a teenager, silenced and unable to really express yourself."

And don't underestimate the appeal of a heroine like Katniss. "Katniss is the kind of strong teenage heroine we were all waiting for," a teenager told the Telegraph.

What about other movies aimed at a teen audience – even more specifically, young adult book adaptations coming to the screen?

Book adaptations continue to be big business in Hollywood, and the success of the "Hunger" series isn't likely to change that practice. But two upcoming projects will present something a bit different.

The planned movie “Looking for Alaska” will be the newest to be based on a book by John Green, with previous films based on his books including “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns.” Green’s stories take place in our own world. And the movie based on Ransom Riggs’ book “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” which will be released in 2016, bears more of a resemblance to a Marvel superhero tale than the dystopian struggles of “Hunger” and “Divergent.” It centers on a school for children with special powers and has the children fight strange creatures.

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