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'I swing my legs off the bed and slide into my hunting boots. Supple leather that has moulded to my feet. I pull on my trousers, a shirt, tuck my long dark braid up into a cap, and grab my forage bag."

This passage, as more than 36 million readers know, comes from Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, the basis of the current No. 1 film in North America. It is the story of teenagers who are forced to fight to the death for popular entertainment – sort of what it would be like if Simon Cowell had a completely free hand on American Idol. The franchise is one of Hollywood's best bets for holding up the box office for the next few years, now that Harry Potter is finished and the Batman and Twilight series are wrapping up.

Like many adults, I'm troubled by The Hunger Games, not so much by the child gladiators as trying to figure out how Katniss gets dressed in the morning. How do you get your boots on before your trousers? Alas, though I googled high and low, those super-supple foot-moulding hunting boots do not appear to be commercially available, though almost everything else related to The Hunger Games is.

Yes, even grinding poverty and oppression have an upside, it seems. As impoverished as the world that Katniss and her cohorts live in is, I still found a plethora of other Hunger Games-related merchandise to fill the boot-shaped holes in my heart. There are blankets, coasters, buttons, T-shirts, 24 different kinds of hoodies (suck it up, Geraldo), glassware, jewellery, pillowcases and knee-socks. There are sweatbands, watches, headphones and an $80 crossbow (just what every alienated teenaged girl needs). Mattel is even bringing out a Barbie version of Katniss. You may recall that in The Hunger Games, the more food rations kids get, the greater their chances of getting selected in a lottery that will send them to the games. Nevertheless, there's also a Hunger Games cookbook, with recipes for Katniss's lamb stew with dried plums and Peeta's raisin-walnut bread.

Merchandising, rather than being a "spinoff" of youth movies, is, in fact, the tail that wags the dog when it comes to blockbuster movies. The Disney Consumer Products division, the largest of the movie-merchandising companies, has worldwide revenues in excess of $30-billion (U.S.) a year, which is about the same as the theatrical box office for all films, worldwide. Among the movie franchises that drive toy sales, according to the marketing tracker NDP Group, the big ones are Cars, Star Wars, Spider-Man, Harry Potter and Toy Story. Toy Story 3, for example, rang up $2.8-billion in merchandising in 2010, greater than its box office of slightly more than $1-billion.

The Hunger Games won't rack up those kinds of numbers (the three to five year olds are your real target market) but the merch factor still matters. Hunger-lings, in fact, are slightly older than their Twilight cousins (exit polls indicated 56 per cent of Hunger Games fans were 25 or older), but there are similar possibilities. So far, Twilight fans have been sold everything from baking dishes, body pillows of the characters, deodorant, Twilight-themed My Little Pony figurines to condoms and "glitter lube."

And finally, Eureka! All the Rage, the Los Angeles Times's fashion blog, revealed this week that in the Hunger Games film, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wears Melissa Tall Lace boots by the Frye Company (They cost $398, which, as the writer of the blog post noted, "must have cost [her]a lot of squirrels.") The boots lace all the way up the leg, so the trousers that slip over top must logically be sweats or yoga pants. Though she's supposed to be Appalachian poor, is it possible that our girl warrior sports Lululemon Athletica?


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Liam Lacey