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March 21. 2012 11:47PM

There's plenty of NH hunger for 'Hunger Games'


“The Hunger Games” has been a big seller at Water Street Bookstore in downtown Exeter. (Jason Schreiber)

Movie-goers hungry for a blockbuster film that's expected to rival the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” series will line up before midnight tonight as the highly anticipated “Hunger Games” hits theaters.

The blockbuster film based on the young adult novel by Suzanne Collins is being shown at midnight in several theaters across the state.

Apple Tree Mall Cinema 12 in Londonderry will offer the movie in at least four of its theaters. Two were sold out by Wednesday, another theater was set aside for winners of a Rock 101 radio contest, and a fourth still had seats available.

“We're going to keep opening them up as we need them,” said manager Lauren Conley.

While the movie is expected to draw big teenage crowds at the box office, Conley said it's “nowhere near a ‘Harry Potter' yet.”

“The Hunger Games” is a Lionsgate film based on the best-selling dark novel about teenage boys and girls living in a post-apocalyptic world who must compete in an annual televised death match known as the Hunger Games.

The story takes place in Panem, a divided nation that replaced North America, and follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, the heroine who chooses to compete in place of her younger sister as the nation's evil Capitol forces one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each of its 12 districts to engage in fights that only end when one dies.

Derry Five Star Cinemas 12 is among the theaters planning midnight showings, but as of Wednesday afternoon the theater had made only about 70 pre-sales. The film will be shown in three of its theaters.

“Some of them are really last minute people,” said Julia Carne, the cinema's assistant manager.

Other theaters opening at midnight include Cinemagic in Hooksett and Merrimack and Regal Fox Run Stadium 15 in Newington.

Stefanie Kiper, events coordinator at Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, is among those planning to watch the movie, but she won't be standing in line at midnight.

“I definitely want to see the movie. It looks great. But I don't have that kind of energy,” she said.

Kiper, 27, is a fan of the book, which has always been a big seller at the bookstore ever since it hit shelves in 2008.

“We've been big fans of it since the beginning. It has everything. It's got great action. It's got a sweet love story. It has family and it has a political message,” she said.

But critics have warned that the movie isn't for every young reader who's fallen in love with the book. Reading about young teenagers engaging in death matches in a book isn't the same as seeing the dark images on the big screen, they say.

When parents ask if the book is appropriate for their kids, Kiper usually tells them that it's better for children 13 and older.

“It's something parents need to decide for themselves,” she said.


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