Report: Hunger Games Studio Goes After Anti-Hunger Organization

You probably haven’t heard that there’s a small independent movie — apparently based on a little-known series of books — called The Hunger Games that’s getting a limited release this weekend. Well, the studio behind that film is trying to stop an anti-hunger group from cashing in on the Hunger Games name.

“Hunger Is Not a Game” is a creation of the Harry Potter Alliance’s Imagine Better group, which has partnered with Oxfam to increase awareness about injustices in global food distribution and to get young people to sign on to Oxfam’s GROW pledge.

On the project’s website, it uses the Hunger Games books — especially the dystopian world in which food is doled out unequally between the different classes of citizens — as a way to demonstrate how this may not be all that dissimilar from the current situation with food distribution around the world.

Seems like a smart way to get young people to think about this information, maybe even engender some debate on the topic. But Lionsgate wants it all shut down because it believes this is hurting the Hunger Games brand.

ThinkProgress.org posts the following letter purportedly sent by a Lionsgate VP to the folks at Oxfam:

This morning I left 2 phone messages for your CEO Mr. Jim Daniell regarding your campaign “Hunger is not a Game” piggy backing off of our motion picture “The Hunger Games” and using Lionsgate’s fans and fan internet sites to promote your cause.

As I mentioned in my phone message, Lionsgate has formed a partnership with two large organizations fighting hunger, the UN’s World Food Program and Feeding America. We are encouraging fans to support this effort by going to http://www.wfp.org/hungergames.

What is not a part of the Lionsgate plan is the distortion of our Motion Picture title. That is what Oxfam has done with your “Hunger is not a Game” logo. And with the many website you have incorporated into your campaign. This is causing damage to Lionsgate and our marketing efforts.

We understand and support your cause and mission. We are on the same side. We are looking for an amicable resolution. For a start we request that you immediately remove any mention of “Hunger is not a Game” from all of your websites and its affiliates and stop using the slogan in your interviews and publicity or press releases. Additionally, please contact the undersigned so we can work out a mutually acceptable plan to go forward where we do not infringe on each other’s rights.

We are truly making an effort to work with you on this. We have the ability to take down your sites as a violation of our trademark and other intellectual property laws. We hope that will not be necessary as this is too serious a subject.

All rights reserved. Thank you.

The founder of the Harry Potter Alliance issued the following statement in response:

Fans have been changed by this story and have expressed a wish to change the world based on the message of this story… I would hope that Lionsgate would celebrate fans, not pick on them, for taking the message of their own movie seriously. It’s amazing that they’re working with two great partners already to fight hunger. But why get in the way of fans who are working with a third one?

EXCLUSIVE: As ‘The Hunger Games’ Opens Big, Lionsgate Tries to Shut Down Anti-Hunger Advocates [ThinkProgress.org]

Thanks to Joseph for the tip!