Students at Michigan State might be celebrating another big victory in East Lansing this weekend. This time, however, the excitement is not the result of a winning score from the football or basketball teams.
MSU is ahead in the nationwide contest for the Catching Fire advance screening, which will be available for students to view on Thursday, November 21st. MSU is ahead of the University of Michigan in the polls by 4,105 votes.
The advance screening comes as a result of an online campaign. Spartans fans the Hunger Games trilogy eagerly shared the link on Facebook and voted for several weeks straight in order to receive the advance screening.
MSU has accounted for 24% of the total votes.
Eleven other well-known universities were included on the voting ballot, including University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State University, and San Diego State University.
At first, many students were skeptical about the contest and whether or not the “grand prize” of seeing the movie early would be awarded to them. However, once the competition proved to be legitimate, MSU students did not hesitate to vote.
Freshman Ahjanai Hudson shared this familiar sentiment of excitement and dedication to win, which was reflected in her contributions to the contest.
“I voted, like, four times a day. Through my phone, my tablet and my computer—I did it all!” said Hudson.
Freshman Hannah Wolfe took it a step further to ensure that the university would stay ahead in the race by persuading her friends that attend other universities to vote for MSU.
“Being the college picked for an advance showing is incredible. What makes it even better is that we’re beating U of M,” Hannah said.
Generally, marketing firms around the nation contact the universities and see if there’s interest in viewing a film before it’s shown in theaters. The studios use this as a marketing tactic in order to gain exposure and promote their film.
Due to the trilogy’s incredible popularity, it seems that Lionsgate, the company that made the film, will have no problem filling theaters once Catching Fire premieres.
It’s no coincidence that this contest is between colleges—college students make up a large percentage of Catching Fire’s faithful audience.
“I think they are just trying to promote a little friendly competition and reward the school that shows the most enthusiasm and interest in the new movie,” said Austin Spaldin, director of the film committee of Michigan State University’s University Activities Board.
This year, MSU has already been able to show five other advance screenings which all turned out to be incredibly successful.
“Don Jon,” “Fifth Estate,” “Bad Grandpa,” “Ride Along,” and “Lone Survivor” were all shown in Wells Hall, where students filled the room to maximum capacity.
During the screening of Bad Grandpa, film committee volunteers had to turn away about 100 students because the room was at capacity.
Lionsgate’s policy states that the university must hand out more tickets than what allows for seating, which means that not everyone is ensured a spot in the auditorium.
Students can arrive to Wells Hall hours early in order to save their spot in line and guarantee that they will be able to enjoy a free movie with their friends.
“It’s like a premiere times ten,” Spalding said.