Looking forward to The Hunger Games? Or haven’t heard of them before? Read on to find out what’s in store…
When Lionsgate acquired the film rights to Susanne Collins’ young adult novel The Hunger Games they had no idea of what they were getting into. Deeming the bestseller as ‘incredible property’, the company wasted no time in engaging the author herself to adapt the screenplay, and set out to piece together the rest of the cast and crew. When Gary Ross, director of Seabiscuit, heard they were adapting the story he hopped on a plane to England to meet producer Nina Jacobson and laid down exactly why he wanted the job, a pitch that included visual mock ups, costume ideas, fan videos and his own Hunger Games ‘mini movie’. A number of prominent actors and actresses stepped forward to audition for roles, with Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) eventually taking the coveted lead role. This in itself sparked debates that sprawled from print to virals and internet forums. Slowly but surely, Lionsgate became aware of just how popular this particular film adaptation would be.
The plot of The Hunger Games can be seen as The Running Man for the Twilight generation. The novel is set in a dystopian future, in which a post-apocalyptic America (Panem) has been divided into 12 districts, all surrounding the Capitol, the basis of wealth and power in the country. The story follows Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence), a resident of District 12, who volunteers in place of her younger sister to take place in the Hunger Games: a ‘Big Brother’ style reality show which pits male and female offerings from each district in a ferocious combat to the death. Placed into a synthetic arena which can resemble anything from a rainforest to the Antarctic, the young tributes must slaughter each other in order to survive, with the deaths of each child being broadcast to the nation as a reminder of what rebellion against the Capitol can achieve.
The Hunger Games, published in 2008, has a rapidly growing fan base that is determined to see the film adaptation live up to the action of the book. Jennifer Lawrence’s casting as the fiery Katniss provoked a small amount of disagreement between the novel’s fans, but a new brunette look on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and determined endorsements from director Ross soon settled those disputes. Lawrence spent months in training for the role, undergoing a series of intensive training schemes and workouts, including weeks of archery practise to perfect Katniss’s tell-tale hunting skills. All the cast trained regularly, ensuring that the viewer can look forward to some particularly awesome action scenes within the arena.
The relationship between Katniss and fellow district tribute Peeta (Josh Hutcherson – Bridge to Terabithia) is at the centre of the novel as they struggle to adjust to their new lives as pieces of the games. As a result Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song) who plays Katniss’s hometown friend also found themselves under close fan girl scrutiny, with murmurings of a Team Edward / Jacob type debate emerging. Whilst the relationship between the characters is a key factor in the novel and its sequels, Ross and the rest of the cast have expressed more than once their disinterest in creating another teen fantasy romance. In a world where a camera can catch your every word, there’s a lot of acting going on, and so the relationship between Katniss and Peeta isn’t as straightforward as expected, with both parties unsure as to whether their feelings are genuine or simply played up for the cameras. As a result The Hunger Games is a near perfect mix of intrigue, romance and action that should translate well to film.
The Hunger Games will be released in the UK March 23rd.