The CW is currently in talks to produce a serial based on the book that was killed by wildly popular Hunger Games.
Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale was first published in Japan in 1999, and subsequently adapted into film for local audiences in 2001.
Essentially, it’s the story of a oppressive government in a dystopian world, which forces children to compete in arena oriented mass-deathmatch bouts.
If that premise sounds somewhat familiar, you’re not alone in thinking so, as there are many an armchair critic (and a few real critics) who decried The Hunger Games books when they came out as being derivative of Battle Royale, despite the author, Susan Collins’, insistence that she had never even heard of Battle Royale, which had been released, translated into English, in the US several years earlier.
There is no way to know if Collins was inspired by Takami or not, but we do know for certain that when the English adaptation of the Battle Royale film was cancelled mid-development last year, it was primarily because of the announcement of The Hunger Games film. The Battle Royale film is still technically in development, but even the planned producer of the film, Roy Lee, seems to have given up on it.
Now, however, The CW, an prime-time-only cable network devoted to young adult entertainment, is in talks to purchase the television rights to the novel. Negotiations are in the early stages, and the deal hinges on the approval of Takami, but this will likely be pursued fiercely by the small network, which has been delivering some very interesting genre content lately, including the upcoming Green Arrow television serial.
With as popular as The Hunger Games is right now, I don’t think audiences would even bat an eye at the similarity, especially the youthful audience The CW aims for; they will simply watch.