Casting Screenplay & Production
In March 2011, Lionsgate confirmed that the part of Katniss was the first to be cast, with Jennifer Lawrence finally winning the role after about 30 female actresses were considered, which included the following young Hollywood actresses:
- Chloë Grace Moretz
- Emma Roberts
- Hailee Steinfeld
- Abigail Breslin
- Saoirse Ronan
- Lyndsy Fonseca
- Emily Browning
- Jodelle Ferland
- Shailene Woodley
- Kaya Scodelario
- Mary Mouser
Jennifer Lawrence dropped out of playing the female lead in Savages (2012) to do The Hunger Games instead.
Apparently Lawrence, who is a fan of the books, was initially intimidated by what it would mean for her fame if she took on a movie of this magnitude and she took three days to accept the role.
Author Suzanne Collins had stated that she preferred that the actress who plays Katniss to have “a certain maturity and power” and that she would rather the actress be older. Once Lawrence was cast Collins stated; “Lawrence was the only one who truly captured the character I wrote in the book and that she had every essential quality to play Katniss.”
Other than dying her brown for her role, Lawrence also underwent extensive training to get in shape, including archery, combat, running, rock and tree climbing, parkour and yoga.
Archer and Olympic bronze medalist, Khatuna Lorig, was hired by Lionsgate to teach Lawrence how to shoot.
Lawrence experienced an accident on the last day of her six week training phase for the first film, in which she hit a wall while running at full speed, but was not seriously injured.
This is the second movie, after Winter’s Bone (2010), in which Jennifer Lawrence plays a character who feeds her destitute family and herself partly by catching and killing squirrels.
Apparently whilst filming for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, in the arena Lawrence hit herself with the bow mid-sprint, and dove into a pool of jets leaving her partially deaf for 6 days.
Lawrence had to wear a wig in Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2 for her role of Katniss as she cut her hair short the summer before filming began due to damage from constant dyeing for the previous films.
As Jennifer Lawrence is under contract with 20th Century Fox for a sequel to X-Men: First Class (2011), it was later confirmed that Catching Fire would begin production in the fall of 2012, with the First Class sequel shooting in January 2013, allowing Lawrence to appear in both films. However, after X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) lost its original director and shooting for the film was delayed till April 2013, Lawrence was no longer needed to be filming in January 2013 and the shooting time frame for Catching Fire was extended to March 2013.
Before Josh Hutcherson was cast, the following actors were considered for the role of Peeta Mellark:
- Alexander Ludwig – who was instead cast as Cato
- Alex Pettyfer
- Hunter Parrish
- Lucas Till
- Evan Peters
- Nico Tortorella
While playing round on the set for the first film, apparently Jennifer Lawrence accidentally kicked Josh Hutcherson in the head, knocking him out and resulting in a concussion.
In order for Peeta to look like he was tortured in Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2, CGI was used on Hutcherson to slim his face and make him look abused and beaten.
For the role of Gale, before Liam Hemsworth was cast, the following actors were considered:
- Chris Massoglia
- David Henrie
- Robbie Amell
- Drew Roy
Apparently Liam Hemsworth asked his brother Chris Hemsworth (Thor) to help him with the auditions practice. Chris would play Katniss during their practice.
During filming for Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2 Hemsworth told EM he had a hairline fracture between his ankle joints. He stated, “I heard a big crack and just went down.”
Hemsworth has stated that the most awkward moments filming in Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2 were the kissing scenes with Jennifer Lawrence.
Both Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence who are natural blonds dyed their hair brown for their roles while Josh Hutcherson, who is naturally dark-haired, dyed his hair blond for his role.
John C. Reilly was considered for the role of Haymitch Abernathy, but in May 2011 Lionsgate announced that Woody Harrelson had been cast for this role.
In November 2011, Woody Harrelson revealed in an interview that he has signed on for four films, suggesting that one of the books may be split into two films.
Elizabeth Banks, who plays Effie Trinket, stated that the worst part of her costume was the lengthy bejeweled nails because she couldn’t unbutton herself or even go to the bathroom without assistance.
Elizabeth Banks spent approximately 45 minutes every day having her nails manicured.
In the Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2, Effie Trinket’s role greatly is greatly expanded whereas in the novel she only briefly at the end. Reportedly, after seeing Catching Fire, author Suzanne Collins called director Francis Lawrence and said, “There’s no way Effie Trinket cannot be in the Mockingjay films.” So in the film Effie replaces Katniss’ stylists as well a character named Fulvia who is Plutarch’s assistant from the novel.
Lenny Kravitz, who plays the role of Cinna, actually knew Jennifer Lawrence before this movie as Lawrence is friends with Kravitz’s daughter, Zoe, since they both appeared in X-Men: First Class (2011).
Stanley Tucci, who portrays the character of Caesar Flickerman, wore a bright blue wig, blue eyebrows, fake teeth, spray tan and lots of makeup for his role.
Wes Bentley, who plays the role of Seneca Crane in the first film, said in an interview with New York Magazine that the weird looking beard he wore during the movie was styled from his own beard and not from fake hair pieces.
Actress Paula Malcomson, who plays Katniss’ mother, has actually worked with Jennifer Lawrence before. She played Lawrence’s mother in an episode of Cold Case (2003), where her character was a homeless mother struggling to support her two children after the death of their father, which is very much like her character in The Hunger Games.
For the role of Finnick Odair in Catching Fire, before Sam Claflin was cast, the following actors were considered:
- Taylor Kitsch
- Armie Hammer
- Hunter Parrish
- Grant Gustin
- Luke Mitchell
- Garrett Hedlund
Sam Claflin apparently ate between two to three sugar cubes for each take filmed during Finnick’s introduction scene. When the scene was finally completed he had consumed the entire box of cubes.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jennifer Lawrence said that she, Josh Hutcherson, and Sam Claflin were very clumsy during the filming of Catching Fire. She confirmed that Claflin fell at least once in every scene they filmed with Claflin agreeing and stating that they could fill an entire gag reel with just him falling over. Claflin also broke his finger during filming.
Sam Clafflin and Donald Sutherland have also co-stared in the miniseries The Pillars of the Earth (2010).
For the role of Johanna Mason in Catching Fire, before Jena Malone was cast, the following actors were considered:
- Zoe Aggeliki
- Mia Wasikowska
- Kristen Bell – who is a huge fan of the book series apparently actively sought the role
- Lindsay Lohan – expressed interest in portraying the role
Apparently for the role of Mags before Lynn Cohen was cast in Catching Fire Melissa Leo was considered.
In July, August and September 2012, the casting of the supporting actors were announced which included Amanda Plummer as Wiress, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, Alan Ritchson as Gloss and Jeffrey Wright as Beetee.
In August 2013, it was announced that actress Stef Dawson had joined the cast and would portray Annie Cresta. In September 2013 Julianne Moore had joined the cast of both Mockingjay parts to play President Alma Coin. Over the next month, Patina Miller, Mahershala Ali, Wes Chatham, and Elden Henson joined the cast as Commander Paylor, Boggs, Castor, and Pollux, respectively.
Before Julian Moore signed on Jodie Foster was considered for the role of President Alma Coin.
Julianne Moore stated that the reason she decided to sign on for the role of President Alma Coin was because her two children are both fans of the novels.
For her role of President Alama Coin in Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2 Julianne Moore wore a gray wig and dark contact lenses.
The movie reunites Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, who appeared in Game Change (2012), also written by Danny Strong. This is also the fourth film that Moore has co-starred with Philip Seymour Hoffman and finally Moore and Josh Hutcherson played mother and son in The Kids Are All Right (2010).
Philip Seymour Hoffman died on February 2, 2014 in New York. Lionsgate released a statement stating that Hoffman had completed filming most of his scenes for Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2 prior to his death. Mockingjay – Part 1 is dedicated to Hoffman.
In the book “Mockingjay”, the character of Cressida has her entire head shaved and covered with ivy tattoos. But in the film Natalie Dormer decided to have only one-half (her left side) of her head shaved to be covered with (fake) ivy tattoos.
Natalie Dormer ad-libbed 20-30 percent of her scenes, especially when Cressida instructs Finnick and the twins where to stand before filming his speech. Dormer stated that she drew inspiration by paying attention to how Francis Lawrence would converse with his camera crew in-between takes.
Alexander Ludwig, who plays one of the Career Tributes, Cato in the first film, worked out for four hours a day with a US Navy Seal to get into shape and gained about 40 pounds for his role.
Lily Rabe who was playing the role of Commander Lyme of District 2 in Mockingjay – Part 1 had to have her scenes cut because she had to back out of the franchise because of a previous commitment with the stage play “Much Ado About Nothing”. Gwendoline Christie was found as her replacement for Part 2.
Jack Quaid, who is the son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan was cast as Marvel who is one of the Career Tributes.
Robert Knepper was cast as Antonius in Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2, a character who does not appear in the books and is an addition to the adaptation. Knepper has stated that during his audition he knew that the lines he received were not what he would end up doing, adding that “they are so secretive about this.”
Screenplay & Production Casting
The Hunger Games is the first part of a Trilogy series of young adult books by Suzanne Collins. The next two in the series are; Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
Author Suzanne Collins apparently came up with the idea for The Hunger Games, after watching footage of the invasion of Iraq and a reality TV show.
Apparently the name of the heroine, Katniss, comes from the name of a group of edible plant species, genus ‘Sagittaria’, commonly known as ‘arrowhead’, and this is also a reference to the character’s archery skills.
The name of the fictional nation of Panem is derived from ‘Panem et Circenses’, which means ‘Bread and Circuses’. This comes from the concluding days of the Roman Empire where the government would satisfy the people by providing violent and deadly entertainment instead of performing their public services.
In March 2009 Lions Gate Entertainment along with Nina Jacobson’s production company Color Force acquired worldwide distribution rights to a movie adaptation of The Hunger Games.
In November 2010 It was announced that Gary Ross will be directing The Hunger Games.
Initially Suzanne Collins adapted the novel for the first film herself, and her script was revised by screenwriter Billy Ray. However, the first draft of the script was then replaced by one written by Collins and director Gary Ross.
As part of the underwriting process Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company insisted on a thorough risk analysis of hazards for the first film, including wayward arrows, poison ivy, bears, bugs and a chase across fast-running water.
Principal photography for The Hunger Games began in May 2011 near Brevard in Transylvania County in Western North Carolina with an initial budget of $75 million and concluded in September 2011 with a final budget of between $90 and $100 million but reduced to $78 million after subsidies.
Most of The Hunger Games was shot in the woods of North Carolina, especially in and around Charlotte and Asheville.
Steven Soderbergh served as one of the second unit directors for the first film.
Due to the tightness of the schedule The Hunger Games was shot on film and not digital. Director Ross stated in an interview with The New York Times; “I didn’t want to run the risk of the technical issues that often come with shooting digitally, we simply couldn’t afford any delays.”
Director Gary Ross, confirmed that his decision to include the shaky camera scenes was to reflect the urgency of what’s happening in the arena during the games and to reflect the protagonist, Katniss’ point of view.
In scene in the first movie where it’s mentioned that Gale has had his name put in for reaping multiple times, it’s never explained in the movie why anyone would want to do this since putting your name into the reaping many times raises the possibility that that person would be selected to compete in the games and may die. The reason for this is given in the novel, which is if a person puts their name in multiple times this actually helps their family get additional portions of supplies such as food and oil, therefore, poor families would put the names of their children in for the reaping more than once in exchange for extra food supplies.
In November 2011, Lionsgate entered negotiations with screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, who wrote Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and 127 Hours (2010), to adapt Catching Fire for screen, as the post-production schedule for The Hunger Games was too crowded for Ross and Collins to adapt the next film as originally planned.
In January 2012 Gary Ross was still expected to return as director for the sequel. However, in April 2012 Ross officially confirmed that he would not be returning to direct Catching Fire. He stated; “Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.”
After Gary Ross declined to return to direct Catching Fire and before Francis Lawrence was finally chosen, the following directors were considered to replace him:
- Alfonso Cuarón
- David Cronenberg
- Bennett Miller
- Tomas Alfredson
- Cary Fukunaga
- Duncan Jones
- Joe Cornish
- Juan Antonio Bayona
- Rian Johnson
On July 10, 2012, Lionsgate announced that the third and final installment in the series, Mockingjay, would be split into two parts. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 was released on November 21, 2014 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 to be released on November 20, 2015. Many directors, including .
On November 1, 2012, Lawrence, director of Catching Fire, announced he would return to direct both final parts in the series.
Simon Beaufoy was hired to write the script for Catching Fire and wrote two drafts before leaving after Gary Ross decided not to direct the sequel.
In May 2012 screen writer Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3 (2010), Little Miss Sunshine (2006)) was confirmed as the new script writer of Catching Fire.
In December 2012, Danny Strong announced that he would be writing the script for Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2.
Filming for Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2 began in September 2013 in Atlanta and concluded in June 2014 in Berlin. The crew and cast took a break to promote The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and filming resumed in December 2013.
In The Hunger Games for the scene that Katniss uses a four-note melody as her signal with Rue, the notes are re-fa-mi-do, which is from in solfège.
The famous ‘Wilhelm scream’ can be heard in the first film from one of the victims in the scene when Katniss cuts off a tree branch and makes the nest of tracker jackers fall onto some of her opponents.
Filming Catching Fire first took place in and around metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia and then moved to Hawaii, to shoot the arena scenes.
In late March 2013 , filming of Catching Fire occurred in the Universal Studios back lot and was kept extremely secretive. Reshoots were scheduled for April 13 in Atlanta. With the base camp set up at Executive Park off North Druid Hills Road, filming also occurred at the Goat Farm Arts Center.
Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence estimated an hour of the film would be devoted to Arena scenes, and said that cameras would be mounted to avoid the shaky-cam look from the first film. He also confirmed that scenes taking place in the Arena were shot on IMAX cameras to distinguish them from scenes external to the Arena.
Approximately 50 minutes of the Catching Fire was shot in the IMAX format, through the use of three IMAX 15 perf/65mm film cameras.
Mockingjay – Part 1 is the only movie out of the four not to shot digitally and not to be released in IMAX.
In April 2014 director Lawrence announcing that Mockingjay production was being moved to Europe and that they would be filming battle scenes in Paris and at Berlin Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. They began filming in the streets of Paris and in the city of Ivry-sur-Seine on May 7, where Lawrence and Hemsworth were spotted during the filming of some scenes among extras. On May 9, it was reported that filming was taking place in Noisy le Grand, Paris where Lawrence, Hemsworth, Hutcherson, and Claflin were spotted on the set which re-created the world of Panem. It is the same location where Brazil was filmed in 1984.
In early scenes of Catching Fire, Katniss is seen wearing an unusual stylized woolen garment. This is a reference to the “talent” for clothing design that Katniss adopts in the book. The Capital requires victors to pursue a “talent”, since they don’t need to work anymore, and Katniss initially struggles since her best real talent is hunting. Then her designer Cinna steps in and supplies her with garments that she can claim to have designed herself.
In the book it is revealed that an uprising began in District 8 the night that Katniss and Peeta arrived in the Capital for the Victory Tour. In the movie Catching Fire, while on the train returning from the Capital, Katniss sees fighting on a monitor and the feed is clearly labeled as coming from District 8.
In Catching Fire, when Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch are at a meal table discussing the need for allies in the Quarter Quell, there’s a figure seen in the background which stands with a sphere around his head that has a covering over the mouth. This is supposed to be homage to the “avox” characters (mute because their tongue has been cut out by the capital) who appear in a minor but significant plot line in the books.
Certain Capitol scenes in Catching Fire were filmed at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel which is one of the hotels where the annual pop-culture/science-fiction convention Dragon*con takes place.
Jena Malone claimed that her stripping scene in Catching Fire was filmed in a real hotel elevator that was not closed for production, resulting in the door opening during the shot for guests.
In Catching Fire when shooting the scene where Katniss, Finnick and Peeta eat fish, the actors were actually eating raw fish. Neither Jennifer Lawrence nor Sam Claflin are particularly fond of fish, making it difficult for both actors to eat the raw fish. Jennifer had the hardest time doing so, and her struggle was very amusing to Josh Hutcherson and Sam Claflin.
Jennifer Lawrence stated while filming in the arena for Catching Fire she hit herself with the bow mid-sprint, and dove into a pool of jets leaving her partially deaf for 6 days.
Apparently the design for the Cornucopia in the first film was inspired by the work of architect Frank Gehry.
The Hunger Games costume designer, Judianna Makovsky, made a minimum of 1,800 elaborate costumes for the citizens of the Capitol.
More than 35 full-time makeup artists were needed to work on the main characters and over 500 extras for the first film.
Most of the dresses Elizabeth Banks wears for her character Effie Trinket in Catching Fire were created and donated to costume designer Trish Summerville by Sarah Burton for the famous Alexander McQueen brand.
Creating Katniss’ wedding dress for the Quarter Quell in Catching Fire costume designer Trish Summerville collaborated with Indonesian designer Tex Saverio.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire costume Designer Trish Summerville chose to work on the film adaption of David Fincher’s Gone Girl instead of completing Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2.
Christian Cordella, a costume illustrator on the first movie, returned to sketch the outfits for District 13.
Originally composer Danny Elfman and T-bone Burnett were set to score the music for The Hunger Games, with Burnett also acting as executive music producer. However, Elfman was later replaced by James Newton Howard due to scheduling conflict.
In October 2012, composer James Newton Howard confirmed that he would return to score Catching Fire with Alexandra Patsavas acting as music supervisor, replacing T Bone Burnett from the first film.
The indie rock band, Arcade Fire also contributed to the first movie’s original score. They composed the ominous Panem national anthem, entitled “Horn of Plenty”, which appears throughout the movie. Butler, who co-wrote the song with Chassagne explained; “There’s an anthem that runs throughout the books, the national anthem of the fascist Capitol. So as a thought experiment, we tried to write what that might sound like. It’s like the Capitol’s idea of itself, basically. It’s not a pop song or anything. More of an anthem that could be playing at a big sporting event like the Hunger Games. So we did a structure for that, and then James Newton Howard made a movie-score version of it that happens in several places in the film.”
The soundtrack for The Hunger Games contains songs inspired by the film, buy only three actually appear in the movie itself, during the closing credits. The first single released from the film’s companion album was “Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars. The soundtrack also features songs by The Decemberists, Arcade Fire, The Secret Sisters, Miranda Lambert featuring The Pistol Annies, Neko Case, Kid Cudi, Academy Award winner Glen Hansard, The Low Anthem, Punch Brothers, Birdy, Maroon 5, Jayme Dee, and Carolina Chocolate Drops. Jennifer Lawrence singing “Rue’s Lullaby” was not included on the soundtrack.
For the cornucopia scene in the first movie a rather obscure analog track from the 1970s composed by Laurie Spiegel was featured.
Ed Sheeran submitted three songs for Catching Fire’s soundtrack and they were all turned down by Lionsgate. Instead Coldplay was announced as the first official artist to be featured on the soundtrack, with the song “Atlas” and Christina Aguilera was also announced as featuring on the soundtrack with her song, “We Remain”.
Four weeks before The Hunger Games opening, Lionsgate sold tickets in advance tickets. Not only did the ticket sales break the one-day record originally held by The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), but also accounted for 83% of the ticket sales of the day. And the film now holds the record for the fifth-best opening day ever, bringing in $68.3 million.
In Mockingjay – Part 1 whilst filming in the sewage pipes, Jennifer Lawrence reportedly had a choking fit on the dry ice/smoke used in the scene.
In the scene where Kantiss shoots down the hovercraft from Mockingjay – Part 1, into what a lot of people think is the hospital, it is actually the building next to it.
In Mockingjay – Part 1 Jennifer Lawrence did her own singing for “The Hanging Tree” segment and apparently she hated filming that part.
For Mockingjay – Part 1 Katniss is seen wearing Peeta’s necklace and often has the pearl he gave her in Catching Fire in her hand.
Mockingjay – Part 1 was originally planned to be released in China on November 21st, 2014, but was pulled a week before release due to protests in Hong Kong. Apparently the political theme of movie is very similar to protestors’ demands for a democratic election in Hong Kong.
The final scene Mockingjay – Part 1, where Katniss wakes up and learns Peeta has been hijacked (after he tries to kill her) was originally intended to be the opening scene of Mockingjay – Part 2, but during production, the filmmakers decided ending after Peeta is knocked out by Boggs and the screen cuts to black was too big a cliffhanger for general audiences, so it was added after that instead.
After the end credits in Mockingjay – Part 1 the Mockingjay logo from the first film The Hunger Games appears, then turns into the Mockingjay logo from Catching fire, and then turns into the Mockingjay logo from Mockingjay Part 1, to finally transform into the Mockingjay logo in the book.
In the teasers for Mockingjay – Part 1 you can clearly see Josh Hutcherson, Jena Malone and Donald Sutherland all dressed in white fancy attire coming out in capital TV commercials. Mason has a blonde wig on but it’s until towards the end of the film you see her bald and bruised. In the film those scenes of all three of them are never shown. Only Peeta and President Snow make appearances.
Total Trivia Entries: 107
You May Also Like: