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Marketing Youth Violence

Talk shifted briefly to comparisons with The Hunger Games and the marketing strategy behind the film. “It was exciting for us, just in terms of seeing a film marketed so successfully and widely when it deals with issues of violence and younger people.” said McDonough. “Historically [it’s] been one of the big challenges, reasons why this film hasn’t gotten made: the marketing mindset [of] a studio not being sure that an audience could be delivered for a film that had a budget this big and dealt with those themes.”

So while comparisons between the two stories seem to grate a bit on the nerves of both the producers and those of us sitting in the room with them, it was understood that the success of The Hunger Games was ultimately a good thing for Ender. “We were rooting for it.” said McDonough.

As for rating, at the time none of them seemed concerned at all they’d be slapped with an ‘R’ rating. The film has since been rated PG-13, but if you’re still concerned about the violent events of the book being present, Orci had a firm grasp of why they were important. “We tried not to water it down. As long as we’re sticking to the theme of this kid wants to avoid violence and when he commits violence it’s hesitantly and it has emotional consequences.” None of the violence was shot gratuitously and McDonough made note that the anguish of the character could be more powerful than the act itself.

In contrast, some people thought it should be rated PG, but according to McDonough, they all saw eye to eye on the issue and they aimed for PG-13. “It’s not a family film in the way that an animated Dreamworks movie is and if we tried to do that, […] I think we’d betray, fundamentally, the themes of the movie. All of us felt that way.”

And as a credit to young adults, McDonough felt that pandering is worse than presenting the world as it really is. “I think for adults if they haven’t been exposed to the book, it’s a really great opportunity to have those conversations. […] The violence is always treated with a real morality. Even more so than Hunger Games, way more so than Hunger Games. I would say that’s a huge departure between the two.”

Marketing was another reason why it was difficult to get the movie made up until now. “These days it’s more expensive than financing the movie. The prints and ads and all of that.” said Hendee.

The appeal of Ender’s Game spreads far and wide as McDonough illustrated by talking about high profile people that are fans like the rest of us such as Bill Gates and his son, the deputy administrator of NASA, and Elon Musk. Astronauts, former NASA employees, and a trained Navy SEAL all contributed in some way. “We’ve been hugely privileged to have input from all of these people.”


When a book is made into a movie, changes have to be made, and we discussed several of them in addition to the already long-debated topic about age and timeline. For one, they confirmed that Bean is in Ender’s launchy group. After the lake scene, Ender and Valentine are allowed to communicate when Ender turns the tables on Graff somehow, though it’s not explained how. Unlike the ratio in the books, there are more women in Battle School.

Ender sits alone at the end of the pier at the lake. Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

Ender sits alone at the end of the pier at the lake. Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

Fans of Locke and Demosthenes should prepare themselves now if this is the first time hearing of it. The two political characters are not included in the film, as was recently confirmed by Gavin Hood. They felt they needed to keep the focus on Ender’s emotional journey and that going back to Earth for a completely different storyline was ultimately too distracting. That being said, we do still have the lake scene between Ender and Valentine.

The audience knowing the twist, which I’ve discussed in length recently, was not something they’d made a decision on when we were on set. It would be a choice they made in the editing room. However, it definitely was something that they wanted to preserve for audiences at the time.

As for those of you wondering how clear it will be that Bonzo and Stilson are dead, all they would say was that it would definitely be implied, but to what extent would have to be determined in the editing room. Without any clear indication to date on how that turned out, that’s probably something they’ll keep hidden until the movie is released.

When we broached the subject of possible sequels, Orci proclaimed that they never count their sequels before they’re hatched. “It’s bad luck!” he said, knocking on the table for good measure. Hopefully, come November, we only see good things to come for a team that is genuinely dedicated to Ender Wiggin.

Tomorrow, you guys can look forward to our lengthy interview with director Gavin Hood and I swear it won’t be nearly as long as today’s report! Be sure to check out reports from Ender News and Ender’s Ansible.

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  1. Wendy Clare says:

    THANK YOU!! I don’t mind the length…all your words are a banquet to our starving fan souls, and It only increases my excitement for this film. My gratitude for the wealth of details knows no bounds. 😀 <

  2. Bruna Figueiroa says:

    Awesome!! Can’t wait to read the rest

  3. […] behind-the-scenes looks at the movie! Check out posts from the folks at io9, Slash Film, Collider, EnderWiggin.net, and Ender’s Ansible, to name just a […]

  4. […] Wiggin: Straight from the Set Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.2, Part […]

  5. […] Wiggin: Straight from the Set Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.2, Part […]

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