I very clearly recall the controversy over the Japanese movie Battle Royale, which never actually had an official release in the States.
It’s a wildly popular cult film, and there was strong word of mouth before it was going to be released here, but with the knee-jerk reaction after Columbine, there was a no way a movie about a bunch of teenage kids forced to fight each other to the death in graphic detail was going to come out in this country.
Now twelve years after the fact, Battle Royale is finally coming out on an official DVD release through Anchor Bay, just in time to coincide with the release of, you guessed it, The Hunger Games. The first time seeing the trailer for Hunger Games, it looked to me like a much more toned down version of Battle Royale, but as reported previously on TG, Games author Suzanne Collins denies it was an influence, and claims she heard about it only late in the game.
For the young adults who are expecting anything resembling The Hunger Games with Battle Royale, they’re definitely in for a shock, and it’s still a pretty potent film today. Although a remake was of course considered, it’s probably too hot button a subject for our shores, and certainly if there was a remake, it would be watered down to the point where the movie would be bland and irrelevant with a happy ending, characters being "redeemed," along with all the usual Hollywood bullsh*t.
So now to compete with The Hunger Games, the Hollywood Reporter confirms Anohor Bay will release the movie for home viewing on March 20, right before Hunger Games opens on March 23. The Reporter also informs us that Royale will have the theatrical and directors cut, along with a ton of extras.
It will also be interesting to see how much interest there is in terms of Royale coinciding with The Hunger Games, and if there will be any controversy over it. There certainly would have been controversy, if it was released theatrically right after Fight Club, but I’m willing to bet Battle Royale still packs a pretty good punch after all these years.