When the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins landed in theaters in the Spring, many “in the know” nerds paused to point out that it bore more than a passing resemblance to another movie adapted from a well-known novel.
In 2000, the Japanese film Battle Royale was released, based on the 1999 book of the same name by Koushun Takami. The plot centered around a group of students who are forced to compete in a deadly game and must kill each other to win. It was set in an alternate timeline, where Japan joined a totalitarian state called the Republic of Greater East Asia and agreed to participate in a event called The Program. The savage brutality forced on the subjects of The Program allowed the government to terrorize the population into being docile and compliant.
The Program annually forces Junior High-School classes to kill each other until there is only one student remaining. It begins with each class sequestered, and students have to rely on their cunning and the only supplies given to them: a map, a compass, food and water, and one random item ranging from a weapon to a paper fan. The lone survivor is the winner of The Program. The book and film have both been widely regarded as cult classics.
Sound familiar? According to an anonymous source, the CW Network hopes it sounds familiar enough to entice fans of The Hunger Games. An American version of the film had been sidelined by the release of The Hunger Games, and in the last few weeks the CW has been in contact with the project’s Hollywood Representatives in an attempt to transition it to television. In addition to the original Japanese film, there is a 2003 sequel named Battle Royale II: Requiem. Several popular manga series exist, including Battle Royale II: Blitz Royale. Much like AMC’s The Walking Dead, there is a wealth of source material for the potential series to adapt, adjust or discard.
The trailer to the original Japanese movie is below (now available on Blu-Ray):
“If you liked that, you may also like this”
For younger readers, if you enjoy The Hunger Games or Battle Royale, you might also enjoy a Stephen King short story called The Long Walk. Originally written under his pseudonym Richard Bachman, the book is about a deadly national marathon contest. Battle Royale was listed by King as one of the seven books on his Entertainment Weekly 2005 summer reading list, and also noted the similarities between it and his 1979 paperback.