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Ever since the publication of the first book in Suzanne
Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES series, the similarities between that saga and Kinji
Fukasaku’s violent 2000 cult film BATTLE ROYALE (pictured) have been noted and
debated by genre fans. Anchor Bay, which will give BATTLE ROYALE its
long-awaited official U.S. release next year, knows it, and plans to tie in to
the debut of Lionsgate’s much-anticipated HUNGER GAMES movie next March.
“The whole goal is to try and do this up as ‘the original
HUNGER GAMES,’ because everyone keeps talking about that and they have hundreds
of millions of dollars behind it,” Anchor Bay’s Kevin Carney tells Fango. “If
you Google ‘HUNGER GAMES vs. BATTLE ROYALE,’ there are like 200 websites that
talk about how BATTLE ROYALE is really the original. So anything we can do to
get that fan base to know about the movie that kind of influenced it will be
part of our marketing campaign.”
Whether that will mean any significant theatrical play for
BATTLE ROYALE (for which Anchor Bay also picked up the recent 3D conversion,
along with Kenta Fukasaku’s 2003 sequel BATTLE ROYALE II) ahead of DVD/Blu-ray
release—and what we’ll see on those discs in terms of special features—has yet
to be determined. “A lot of things are very fluid, and we’re working out the
details,” Carney says. “Arrow Video put out a great boxed set in the UK, and
did a good job of it, so we want to one-up them a little bit. We are going to
try to do a 7.1 soundtrack, instead of our usual 5.1.”
Both BATTLE ROYALE and THE HUNGER GAMES are set in
futuristic societies where school-aged children are pitted against each other
in fights to the death. BATTLE ROYALE, of course, had the unfortunate timing to
come out not long after the Columbine massacre, which has held up its U.S.
exhibition for all this time. “There was that ‘controversy’ around it for so
long,” Carney says. “Nowadays, there’s stuff that has been out that’s so much
worse, but with the timing of it around Columbine, everyone freaked out, and it
has had that negative connection since. But I think it’s just time [to release
BATTLE ROYALE now], and THE HUNGER GAMES is one of the reasons why. I mean, if
you read the stories, they are very similar, and that’s a teen book!”
So how did Anchor Bay come to be the conduit to officially
bring BATTLE ROYALE to the U.S. masses? “Simple: There were a lot of us who
were long-term fans,” Carney says. “And we worked on it for a long time.” Stay
tuned for updates and release details.
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