By now, many Americans are familiar “Hunger Games” stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, but little is known about the film’s writer, producer and author of the books on which it is based.
Suzanne Collins penned the first book of the dystopian trilogy in 2008. The 50-year-old mother of two spent much of her life writing for children’s television shows, including hits like Nickelodeon’s “Clarissa Explains It All” and “Oswald.” She later penned several children’s books before transitioning to the young adult genre.
Collins, who famously avoids doing interviews, said that the premise for “The Hunger Games” came when she was channel surfing between reality shows and news coverage of the Iraq war.
“I was tired and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way,” she told Publishers Weekly.
The books, set in a dystopian North America called Panem, centers around 16-year-old heroine Katniss, who, to save her sister, volunteers to enter The Hunger Games, an annual fight to the death between children from various districts surrounding a lavish capitol city.
“There’s no fantasy element,” she told Publisher’s Weekly in 2008. “The violence is not only human on human, it’s kid on kid. I think that automatically moves you into an older range.”
The book was a smash, partly due in fact to its appeal to parents and teens alike. It spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, and the two sequels made Collins the first young adult author to sell more than a million ebooks on Kindle.
The books made Collins a celebrity in her own right, earning her a spot on Time’s most influential people list in 2010.
Spurned by the success of the books, Lions Gate purchased the rights for a film adaptation and began filming in 2011. Collins was brought on as a producer and helped pen the screenplay.
The film, which opened nationwide Friday, made more than $19M domestically in overnight shows alone, scoring it a spot in the top bestselling midnight totals ever.
The top six draws all came from teen novels, including “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” films.
Total sales for the weekend are expected to top more than $120 million.