HOLLYWOOD, California- Katniss Everdeen and Jennifer Lawrence quickly became household names when Gary Ross adapted Suzanne Collins’ trilogy The Hunger Games for the big screen, Lawrence’s film appearances have practically doubled in the two years since the first film was released. The star’s salary, however, more than doubled with the second film.
In fact, the actress made the first film for $500,000 but is reportedly garnering over $10 million for the second. Lawrence’s co-stars, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, earned about the same for the original movie and were given about $2 million for the second installment. Before any pity is expressed for the stars, since they are making significantly less than Harrison Ford’s average haul of $218.3 million, it is important to know that the previous salaries are merely base rates that do not include extra percentages if the film does well. It is safe to say thus far The Hunger Games has done very well.
The initial movie pulled in over $67 million on its opening day and $673 million worldwide during its time in theaters. Ross’ set was highly focused on the budget, resulting in the film costing $80 million. Meanwhile, in its first weekend, the second film, Catching Fire,cost $130 million to make, earned over $158 million, and as of December 1 it made $573 million worldwide. The two movies’ profits thus far add up to a whopping $1.036 billion.
Though the trilogy contains references to hunger, such as Katniss’ family’s struggle to find food, but the profits are hardly put to use in any comparable way. Katniss’ hunger is visible in the 842 million people who lack adequate food in the real world. Most of these individuals are in developing countries whose overall population suffers from 14.3% undernourishment. The problem is not the lack of food, but rather the lack of access to food. According to Worldhunger.org, the world not only produces enough food for everyone, it produces enough food for each person to consume 2,720 calories per person per day. What then, are the issues? And how might The Hunger Games actually alleviate hunger?
One of the most drastic discrepancies contributing to global hunger is between female and male farmers’ access to resources. Females compose 43% of the farming workforce, yet their crop yields are 20-30% less than those of male farmers. Men have much greater access to high quality seeds, fertilizers and equipment, including access to loans for such purchases. The World Food Programme (WFP) notes that if women had access to the same resources, the number of hungry individuals in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million, almost a 20% decrease. WFP’s training program supplies women relevant education and supplies in order to shrink the gap, and aims to include service such as childcare in the future.
Another program with potentially dramatic results is providing free meals at schools. This program has multiple benefits. First and foremost, it aims to give basic yet essential nutrition to the estimated 66 million primary school children attending school hungry in the developing world. Side effects include acting as an incentive for children to continue attending school, opening a new market for local farmers, and increasing students’ ability to learn by eliminating the distraction of hunger. WFP states that $3.2 billion is necessary to reach all 66 million school-age children in the developing world.
The blockbuster movies and their stars have so far made enormous profits and stand to make even more with the final two films and the continued income from the first two. The Hunger Games $1.036 billion profit would cover one third of the bill for one year’s worth of school meals for all of the hungry students in the developing world. Furthermore, it would exponentially increase the World Food Programme’s needs-based budget, reported in 2009 as $11 million, not to mention the programs specifically geared towards closing the gender gap in farming. One could say there are many people hungry for the type of money The Hunger Games brings in.
– Katey Baker-Smith