Who said a trilogy had to stop at three books? On Tuesday Scholastic released a trio of new Hunger Games titles linked to the March 23 movie, which is based on the first story in Suzanne Collins's series.
Their release has added another 2.4 million copies to the 23 million copies of Hunger Games titles already in print in the United States. How do they differ from typical tie-ins? "We’re printing a lot more!" says Alan Smagler, v-p of trade sales for Scholastic.
The Hunger Games Tribute Guide ($7.99) shows full-page photos of each movie tribute (the two dozen 12- to 18-year-old citizens of Panem chosen to participate in the annual fight-to-the-death Hunger Games). Next to each photo is a page that lists the teen’s name, gender, height, and weapon. It also provides more information about the gamemakers (who design the games), the parade (where the tributes appear in front of the citizens before the games), and the training center (where the tributes live before the games).
The Hunger Games: Movie Tie-In Edition, ($12.99 paper) wraps a new cover – with "now a major motion picture" and the film’s fiery mockingjay logo – around the original 2008 story. "[Newcomers to the series] may be enticed with the movie art cover," Smagler says. "That is the wonderful thing about movies. You bring in a lot of people who may not be big book readers."
The largest book, The Hunger Games: Official Illustrated Movie Companion ($18.99), contains movie stills (of the actors, of the filmmaking, and of props such as the feast foods), and features text about how Collins came up with her idea and about how director Gary Ross, his actors, and his makeup artists made the movie in North Carolina. Fans can see shots of District 12 tributes Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and of Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) on set and and at rest. (In one shot, Lawrence reads a book during a break in shooting.)
"I think the big attraction of all these movie tie-in books is that you finally get to see Katniss, Peeta and Gale in action, in their costumes," Smagler says. "There are lots of illustrations, great photographs, lots of bios on the characters and storylines."
For Harry Potter line extensions, by contrast, the books were “predominantly wordless,” according to Smagler. “We were not allowed to put any storylines in any of those movie tie-in titles.”
On March 23 (the date that The Hunger Games hits theaters) Scholastic will publish The World of the Hunger Games ($18.99 paper-over-board). “That book is chock full of stuff, from the beginning to the games themselves,” says Smagler. Unlike this week’s releases, the new one contains photos of the games themselves (Lionsgate did not want the three pre-movie-release books to reveal the footage).
So what does a real "tribute" think about the new tie-in books? PW asked Amandla Stenberg, who plays Rue in the movie and who appears on the cover of the Hunger Games Tribute Guide. "You never know how things are going to look when you’re shooting, so to see the outcome and see how the movie is truly coming alive is incredible," she says. "My mom and I are definitely going to add these guides to the Hunger Games scrapbook that we’ve been putting together!"