Danielle Pepers is such a fan of “The Hunger Games” that she had the book’s unofficial mascot -- a mockingjay -- tattooed on her right arm earlier this month. But her intrigue with the books, and upcoming movie, didn’t stop there. On a recent Wednesday, Pepers, 27, was shopping for T-shirts and jewelry at Hot Topic, a teen-oriented chain store at the Glendale Galleria that sells pop-culture ephemera. A mound of movie tie-in merchandise greeted her at the door.
There were knee socks, pillow cases and nail polish. Mini figures, sweat bands, even a watch. Still, that wasn’t all. Stepping over to the digital kiosk, there were dozens of other “The Hunger Games” items – 60 in total -- that could be special ordered into the store, including an $80 crossbow and ear buds for $19.50.
With “The Hunger Games” set to hit movie theaters next week, the publisher of the books it’s based upon is releasing four movie tie-in titles, including an illustrated movie companion, a tribute guide and, on March 23, the day of the film’s release, “The World of the Hunger Games,” a visual dictionary featuring pictures from the film. Other publishers are also hoping to cash in, with unofficial guidebooks, cookbooks and parodies, including Harvard Lampoon’s “The Hunger Pains.” It’s Lionsgate, however, that has unloosed the floodgates on a tidal wave of licensed merchandise –- most of it sold at Hot Topic and made by the National Entertainment Collectibles Assn. in New Jersey, one of the country’s largest providers of wholesale licensed movie merchandise.
Earlier this month the Los Angeles nail polish company, China Glaze, began selling Electrify (in orange glitter), Stone Cold (in metallic flake) and 10 other colors inspired by “The Hunger Games” 12 districts, where the action of the book unfolds. Licensed through Lionsgate and available at Hot Topic and Sally Beauty, sales “have already exceeded our normal collection standards,” said China Glaze brand manager Rachel Schafer.
Huge as “The Hunger Games” is even before the film’s release, nothing says success like a Barbie. Mattel recently announced plans to introduce a collectible Katniss Everdeen doll to its Barbie Collector series before the end of the year.