We may have seen a smattering of recent movies aimed firmly as the ‘more mature’ market but the kids are still where the cash is.
That’s why millions of dollars are invested in franchise formats which the money men in Tinseltown reckon will generate repeat business.
Some fall flat on their face and are never seen again, but some trundle on year in, year out hoovering up revenue until the well runs dry.
It’s still probably too early to tell whether the Hunger Games canon has those sort of legs, but here comes the second instalment in the ‘Rollerball meets Lord Of The Flies’ set up in which the youth of the future are pitched into death matches for the entertainment of the masses.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the title given to this standard sequel, in which the grappling is even more deadly and feisty Jennifer Lawrence is still up against it.
The mix of fresh young talent and grizzled Hollywood veterans (Donald Sutherland, Woodly Harrelson, Stanley Tucci) augmented with character cameos (welcome back, Lenny Kravitz) is maintained, we get to root for the kids and boo the old farts, and if you’re willing to sit still for nearly 21/2 hours as another slice of the bestselling Suzanne Collins trilogy makes it to the big screen you’ll get a comprehensive, but calculated, dose of thrills and spills.
Once upon a time just seeing the names Robert de Niro and Tommy Lee Jones on the same bill was a promise of compelling cinema, but since the terrifying twosome started playing it for laughs you never know.
The Family is billed as a black comedy in which former mob boss Bobby is forced to enter the witness protection programme along with wife Michelle Pfeiffer and kids.
Tommy Lee is the gruff lawman charged with keeping these fishes out of water on the straight and narrow as they make a new life in rural France, which is easier said than done – particularly as there is a price on Bobby’s bonce.
We’ve been here before but it’s all jolly enough and with Luc Besson calling the shots there’s a pleasing combination of laughs and menace.