‘The Hunger Games’ Producer, Nina Jacobson, on What Makes a Movie Grow Into a Franchise

The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga. Movie franchises don’t come along often, but when they do, it’s something special. Franchises in film are defined by millions of loyal fans who are invested in a story and willing to follow the story over time and throughout multiple movies. Franchises also boast extremely high numbers in the box office and extended longevity. But how does a film become a franchise to begin with? Nina Jacobson, who serves as the producer on The Hunger Games, weighs in.

The Hunger Games movies cast and crew
The Hunger Games cast and crew | Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

When Jacobson purchased the rights to “The Hunger Games” from author, Suzanne Collins back in 2009, she had only a glimpse into just how successful the books would become. But, she trusted that the passion that she had for the book would translate beautifully into a film that others would enjoy seeing. And while Jacobson desperately wanted to turn The Hunger Games’ sequels, “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” into movies as well, that wasn’t her top priority when helping to bring the first movie to life.

How did ‘The Hunger Games’ movies become a successful franchise?

In an interview with Collider, Jacobson reflected on her experience with producing The Hunger Games. She recognized the growing popularity that the film and books were receiving as she was making it, but instead of setting her sights on the future, she committed to focusing on the present. “It’s been a crazy, snowballing thing, while we’ve been making the movie,” Jacobson revealed. “But, when we made the movie, we really just tried to keep our head down and make a movie that deserved a sequel. Ultimately, only audiences decide what’s a franchise. Only audiences decide what’s a hit.”

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Jacobson continued on to share that it was important to first establish The Hunger Games as a standalone movie that could captivate audiences before trying to conceptualize sequels. “I have always been mindful of not wanting to be the Miami Heat of movies,” The Hunger Games producer shared. “Nobody roots for people who presume success. You have to earn success, and success is earned by making a movie that audiences like and want to see more of. There’s really no other way around it. I was an executive before I was a producer, and I’ve seen franchise fever grow, over the course of my career.”

Producer, Nina Jacobson, feels that audiences determine a franchise

The producer added that it was important for her to make The Hunger Games the best it could be. Only after doing that would she be able to leverage its success to make sequels. “The one thing that people always forget is that it’s only a franchise if audiences really want to see more of it,” Jacobson revealed. “It’s up to them. It’s really not up to us. So, I was focused on this movie with my director, with the studio, and with the cast and crew. We all just focused on making the best possible movie we could, and earning the right to do more.”

Clearly, Jacobson took the right approach to making The Hunger Games. Not only did it get a sequel, it got three. Furthermore, all four films did eventually become a beloved franchise that people are still revisiting today.