Posted in: Movies

Battle Royale Gets New Recognition Thanks To ‘The Hunger Games’

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The release of ‘The Hunger Games‘ on the big screen has been highly anticipated for a long time, but some of that anticipation wasn’t exactly of the positive sort.

When The Hunger Games book was released back in 2008, some were quick to point out that the book’s plot followed very close to that of another book-to-film sci-fi horror flick: Battle Royale. The internet is ever quick to jump to conclusions–myself included–but there’s some level of truth to all of the vitriolic criticism.

In case you’ve never heard of Battle Royale–which is likely, given that the movie was only ever able to garner a cult following–here’s the plot: In the not-so-far future, the global economy is faltering and teens across Japan are beginning to grow more and more rebellious. Naturally, the government’s solution is to hold a death match on a remote island.

In Battle Royale, the “contestants” (victims?) are chosen randomly by lottery and are shipped off to the island with nothing more than a bag, and in that bag is a random “weapon”. If you’re wondering why weapon is in quotes there, that’s because some students get the short end of the stick and get, say, a frying pan as their weapon, while another gets a gun.

If that plot sounds familiar to you, that’s probably because it’s almost the exact setting in The Hunger Games. That being said, there are quite a few differences.

Perhaps the most obvious difference between The Hunger Games and Battle Royale is the content. Hunger Games, while a bit brutal, is rated at P3-13 and is comparatively tame when you look at Battle Royale‘s excessive gore and unfiltered brutality. Hunger Games also takes itself a bit more seriously and has a more substantial plot. Granted, that doesn’t necessarily make it any better than Battle Royale.

So the question, then, is did the author of The Hunger Games rip off Battle Royale? According to the author, the answer is no.

Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, went on record several times to say that she had never read, much less heard of, Battle Royale when she was penning the script for her book; Collins claims that the first she heard of Battle Royale was after she submitted the manuscript of the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy. For more on that, you can check out this link.

There may be some strong similarities between the two works, but Battle Royale wasn’t exactly the first to use the setting; 1987’s The Running Man by Stephen King had a very similar setting, and even that wasn’t the first to use the setting.

Regardless of whether or not The Hunger Games ripped off Battle Royale–I won’t make a claim one way or another–I’d say that both films are deserving of a look. If you’d like to see a trailer for Battle Royale before diving in, you can check out the embedded video below.

Which do you like more? The Hunger Games or Battle Royale?

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39 Responses to “Battle Royale Gets New Recognition Thanks To ‘The Hunger Games’”

  1. Shane Stone

    Even though the concept is nearly identical, it's not necessarily true that Suzanne Collins borrowed from Battle Royale. I believe her when she says she copied nothing, because as the article mentions, the concept isn't amazingly unique and original to begin with; wouldn't you say that someone out there at some point in time had a similar idea to this plot? It just so happens that two authors from opposites sides of the world published such an idea at a similar time — albeit one nine years after the other.

    On the other hand, even if she did copy it, it doesn't really matter. Creation isn't all about originality — Burger King was a copy of McDonalds, and we seem to like them both well enough. Actually, we have drawn inspiration from LOADS of things from Japan; there's nothing wrong with emulating a great creative source. Either way, an Americanized Battle Royale or not, The Hunger Games is reaching a Western audience that would likely never read a book from across the world.

  2. Tom Pollack

    Another Stephen King story, The Long Walk, also has elements in both Hunger Games and Battle Royale. The concept is hardly and has been used in story telling for several thousand years.

  3. Jessica Garvin

    If you can stand to read subs or what ever, Battle Royale is a really good movie. I saw some years ago. It was said that it was suppose to be released in America, but because of what happened with Columbine, they decided against releasing it. It REALLY is gory!

  4. Abo Hina Nabam

    She didnt borrow, She Ripped it off! Come on, a writer who writes books for kids gonna have such gruesome idea to murder kids. Gimme a break.

  5. Abo Hina Nabam

    Shane Stone And looks like you still have faith in suzanne that she would come out clean. All im trying to say is, She should credit the original author atleast. Her Publisher knew about it, yet they went for it. BR was published in the 90s, Theseus inspiration? bah!. I too like THG, but only cos it brings back memories of BR, and deserves the credit its supposed to give. peace!

  6. Abo Hina Nabam

    Also, you must have watched The Departed. Atleast they did credit the original story of a Hongkong movie "The Internal Affairs". Even then The Departed was widely accepted by the original story fans. Because they atleast credited ya know. THG would have had the same reception had it credited BR. Cheers!

  7. Chad Wilson

    When did this become available in the US? I know about 7 years ago it was banned and my buddy who was an exchange student from Hong Kong brought me back a set of BR 1 and 2.

  8. Louis Gonzales

    Abo Hina Nabam It is not an original idea though. Suzanne, in my opinion, did not rip it off. I mean, in my opinion, the creator of Battle Royale didn't rip off The Running Man or Stephen King's The Long walk.

  9. Abo Hina Nabam

    Louis Gonzales Well would have been better if the inspiration for her THG was from Stephen Kings' books too. But she claims otherwise. And also im calling it a ripoff because of the the way the teenagers were left there with food and supplies. Cheers!

  10. Todd Sullivan

    It depends on what your definition of the "idea" is. In Hollywood, we producers have things called loglines. The logline for "Battle Royale" would be something like: "Teenagers are selected by a state run lottery to participate in 'The Battle Royale' — a spectacular televised fight to the death on an island." Based on that logline, I would pass on remaking "Battle Royale" for fear of its similarity to "The Hunger Games." The central legal question is: Can the rights' bearer of "Battle Royale" reintroduce his concept in the wake of "The Hunger Games." The answer is more likely than not no. This is the same argument that Harlan Ellison used to sue James Cameron for the Terminator and Andrew Niccol for In Time and was able to win a settlement from both. Now even though the logline for "Battle Royale" is similar to the logline for "The Hunger Games," it's substantially different than the logline for "Death Race 2000" or "The Running Man," which is why no one cried foul when "BR" came out after those movies, but is why many are upset that "The Hunger Games" is a rip off of "BR." This same rule also holds for publishing. My guess is that Suzanne Collins knew she took the idea but they gambled on whether or not the rights bearer would fight litigation, or more likely than not, they settled up front and early and out of court, in order to continue on with their production (producers are good at covering their butts like that). Copyright law is set up to protect similarity. Regardless of whether or not the author knew she was taking the idea (again my guess is yes she did), if she infringes, she opens herself up to litigation. It's all too easy in HW to take a lesser known idea and then run with it and pay off the originator later on. It happens all the time.

  11. Justin McFarland

    The plot of Battle Royale which came out in 2000.

    "It's a story of adolescent boys and girls being randomly pulled into a filmed game show of a gory deathmatch in an arena filled with natural and artificial hazards set in a dystopian society with a totalitarian government that likes to show the people that they're still in charge. Some of the contestants embrace the opportunity to cause mayhem; others try to navigate the situation with diplomacy, only to be ruthlessly murdered by more vicious players. The story ultimately focuses on a trio of protagonists, one slightly older and embittered by loss because he has played and won the game before; the other two are younger and more innocent, and turn to their more mature peer for guidance and inspiration. In the end, instead of the usual one winner, there is a plot twist and the two younger players become lovers and end up winning the game in the end. Then they go on in the next story to try and overthrow the totalitarian government."

    What gets me the most is that Suzanne Collins said she's never heard of BR. I can only guess why though, the reason being she would probably get sued.

  12. Peggy Keller

    Abo Hina Nabam 7 young men and 7 young girls chosen by lotto are sent on a journey to an underground game arena where they are offered as tribute to satisfy a totalitarian government. By offering this tribute, the govt promises not to attack the community who give the tributes. A half man/half beast creature (muttation?) lives in this game arena- (maze). One young man is determined to stop the totalitarian govt enters and with help from a companion on the outside who gives him gifts, kills the half man half beast, thereby destroying the govt.
    This is not a new story. This is ancient Greece stuff, it's been done thousands of times through history, kids killing kids? Like Lord of the Flies? Cain and Able? Myth of Niobe? The Enemy by Higson?

  13. Marcus Eiland

    It's not the story that is the ripoff but the similarities within the story. The duffel bag idea, the endings are nearly identical, i.e. a boy and girl survive and fall in love and defiantly resist following the ultimate rules of the game, both are in dystopian worlds, in BR the students were updated when a rival was killed just as they are in HG. Personally I thought BR was total garbage which is about how I feel about HG, but given the fact that some of the similarities are nearly identical between the two, I believe she is lying when she says that BR did not influence her. "… Collins herself has repeatedly denied having ever seen or even heard of “Battle Royale” until she’d already turned in the manuscript of the trilogy’s first novel, at which point she asked her editor if she should read it."– from the Wall Street blog. Why would she have asked her publisher about BR if she had never heard of it and her 1st book had yet to be published. No one else would have known about the similarities to tell her that her story was mimicking Battle Royale. And the publisher would not have brought it to her attention if he told her to put it out of her mind. Her own comments betray her. BR = s**t, HG = BR, therefore HG = s**t.

  14. Peggy Keller

    Marcus Eiland This was not Collins first book, she wrote child stories for Scholastic for years before Hunger Games. This was not even her first best seller. She wrote 6 younger children's books between 2003 and 2007 and was working on Hunger Games at the same time. When Battle Royale come out in America in 2003 it got very little notice. This was not a situation where no one would know what she was working on. She was employed by Scholastic, she would be in constant contact with her editor and publisher. They would absolutely know what she was writing before she turned in her manuscript.
    Stephan King was the one who brought Battle Royale to the attention of mainstream America and he also did the Hunger Games Review in 2008 for EW, he mentions BR, Running Man, Long Walk, in one line as having similar plot lines but knowing how King tears people apart when he wants, he would have destroyed Collins if he thought they were that similar.

  15. Andy Malden

    It's plagiarism and I'm boycotting it. Not that it will make any difference (it's already a hit) but I won't contribute to the success of this stolen work.

  16. Marcus Eiland

    I wasn't commenting on her children's books, I meant her first HG book. As I stated, I'm not debating the story line but individual elements ripped from BR that are nearly identical in HG. The plot is irrelevant in my OP.

  17. Jonathan Nease

    Battle Royal is a much deeper novel than the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a good deal more palatable than "Twilight" shit, because it is absolute shit, but they are still drastically inferior to Battle Royal.

    The lack of imagination in The Hunger Games is evidenced most strongly by its reliance upon a futuristic setting and technology in order to stage the core conflict. Battle Royal is able to imagine a scenario in the here and now wherein such a horrific game could take place. The graceful precision involved in constructing that world can't be equaled by a series where ham-fisted science-fiction memes are used to grout the holes in the plot line and scenery.

  18. Nate Nease

    I'm re-reading it for real right now and I love it so much. It's really maybe my favorite "comic." I mean that. I've been loving Invincible more than anything else for a year or two, but Battle Royale is so good!

  19. Cloudface Von Ruckus

    same thing happend with JK Rowling and The Books of Magic-Tim Hunter is pretty much Harry Potter in graphic novel form only it came out almost a decade before..

  20. Else Nagel

    Suzanne collins is a LIAR! Or she's at least brought up some of my most serious suspicions. I read Battle Royale, and I am about to see the movie. I browsed through the Hunger Games too, and did a little research on both. The only major difference is that she wussed out on the "unnecessary" gore from the original Japanese version. Not to mention Battle Royale was first sold in 1999 just about a decade before.She could have at least come up with a better answer than "no, I didn't rip off another book, trust me!" No one wants to be original any more, they would rather steal or do a remake of some movie or auto tune a song to make a quick buck.

  21. Tosh Jackson

    You cant call putting people in a areana original , umm gladiators?
    Also very few people I know have seen or read battle royal, its some what of a cult classic.
    I think this is mostly fueled by hipster hate.

  22. Jhette Landrum

    Sad to say, at it's core Hunger Games IS a ripoff of Battle Royale. The writing style has nothing to do with the core story being a Americanized copy of the Japanese version. Here is the core: 1) Government forces children to fight arena game; 2) One victor but 2 love birds find a way to beat the system; 3) Now the government is after the 2 love birds that beat the system; 4) Other elements included trained killers types within group of kids in the arena AND a government official who calls out the names of dead so everyone knows how many are left AND a Haymitch type character who was a winner in the previous game who is back for vengeance (see book 2 catching fire) AND the list goes on. I don't believe the author Collin for one minute when she says she was unaware of the Japanese book turned movie in the year 2000. She should be sued and at the very least, give credit to the Japanese author whose ideas are so very pronounced in the hunger games. And oh, yeah, they are both Godless, which is hard to come by in much of American literature.

  23. Samantha Imaninja Wolf

    I've read all the hunger games books and watched BR. Although there are some major similarities, there are HUGE differences. Battle Royal is deffinatly better though.

  24. Cramer Brown

    it sucks because I have to read the Hunger Games for a freshman thing and I absolutely hate it.