Quentin Tarantino is a movie lover first, and a movie maker second. Or, well, maybe it’s the other way around, but suffice to say he’s protective of his favorite films. So when a major franchise appears to crib from a cult hit, film’s number one fan will surely take notice.
In an interview with Dana Carvey on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tarantino shares the movie he wishes he made: “I’m a big fan of the Japanese movie Battle Royale, which is what Hunger Games was based on. Well, Hunger Games just ripped it off. That would have been awesome to have directed Battle Royale.”
This is not the first time Tarantino (a filmmaker known for violent scenes himself) has praised Kinji Fukasaku’s 2000 film. Back in 2009, he called it his favorite film of the last 17 years, saying, “If there is any movie that has been made since I’ve been making movies that I wish I had made, it’s that one.” Clearly, no film has eclipsed Battle Royale in Tarantino’s mind in the decade-plus since.
This may be the first time that the Oscar winner dragged The Hunger Games’ good name into the conversation, but it’s not the first time this YA dystopia has been pitted against Battle Royale. It’s an old debate, in fact, but with the upcoming prequel The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes renewing interest in the series, we might as well go another few rounds.
So: did The Hunger Games rip off Battle Royale? Not according to author Suzanne Collins: “I had never heard of that book or that author until my book was turned in,” she has said of the original novel by Koushun Takami.
Still, one can’t ignore the stories’ fundamental similarities, i.e., children forced by a cruel government into a death match they can’t escape. It doesn’t look great for Collins, but at the same time, if one were to set out to write a disturbing story, it wouldn’t take long to independently hit upon the concept of “kids killing each other,” would it?
Which tale did “child death match” better is an entirely different debate, and there’s no doubt which side Tarantino comes down on. It would be fascinating to see what he’d do with a Hunger Games film, though.