Welcome to The Hunger Games Countdown, our resident expert's continued guide to all things Hunger Games on the way to the film's sequel, Catching Fire.
Hello, principal photography! September 10 marked day one of production on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and since then filming updates, set photos and other Hunger Games announcements have been pouring in.
Win a Trip to the Set!
The first big item that any hard-core fan above the age of 13 must note is a little contest. In honor of the start of production, Lionsgate revealed a video of director Francis Lawrence announcing the details of a sweepstakes that gives fans the chance to visit the Catching Fire set. In order to enter, you’ve either got to upload a 30-second video of yourself asking the cast a question and stating your district, or play The Hunger Games Adventures, which was just recently released for the iPad. Click here to check out the full rules and regulations, and catch Lawrence’s video announcement below.
Sneaking around a movie set, trying to snap pictures just isn’t cool. Not only can it be distracting to the cast and crew, but you could wind up spoiling something that somebody worked very hard on, which could make for a wonderful surprise on the big screen. But when it comes to these candid behind-the-scenes Catching Fire pictures, how could I resist?
Don’t worry, they don’t spoil a single thing, but rather show the pitch-perfect results of the casting process. The first photos to hit the Web via Celebuzz were the ones of Josh Hutcherson and Sam Claflin. We already knew Josh Hutcherson rocks his role, but now it’s official: Claflin is Finnick. As always, I’ve got to point out this statement is based on looks alone, but check out this shot. Is he not exactly what you pictured?
And that’s not even the best of the set photos. Just Jared has shots of almost all of the major tributes – Hutcherson, Stephanie Leigh Schlund (District 1’s Cashmere), Meta Golding (District 2’s Enobaria), E. Roger Mitchell (District 11’s Chaff), Alan Ritchson (District 1’s Gloss), Jeffrey Wright (District 3’s Beetee), Maria Howell (District 11’s Seeder), Bruno Gunn (District 2’s Brutus), Amanda Plummer (District 3’s Wiress), Jena Malone (District 7’s Johanna) and Lynn Cohen (District 4’s Mags). Zimbio also has a particularly great set of images worth flipping through, but my favorite photo of the lot comes from Popsugar, a shot of my man, Beetee, toting around a copy of Mockingjay.
First off, it's just an absolute joy to see everyone looking so incredibly happy to be on set. Minus a little face-hiding by Malone, everyone’s got a smile on and some even ham it up for the camera. Then there’s the fact that these images confirm that Lawrence and Lionsgate made some excellent casting choices. Seeing the gang all together, in similar outfits and in a similar environment somewhat mimics the way they might look in the arena. And, based on these images, physically they match up quite accurately with what the book describes – minus the fact that Mitchell still has two arms.
In addition, Philip Seymour Hoffman has also been spotted on the premises, Woody Harrelson was in the region, and Liam Hemsworth was reportedly on his way to Atlanta as of the 16th.
Where’s Katniss? Don’t worry, Jennifer Lawrence is on set, too. Just after soaking up the praise for her work in Silver Linings Playbook at the Toronto International Film Festival, Lawrence hit the Atlanta set and Celebuzz has the gallery to prove it.
The Girl with the Red Hair
Lionsgate has been very good about keeping us all in the loop when it comes to casting, so the which-one-doesn’t-belong game is a pretty easy win. A photo surfaced of a young red-haired woman wearing the same robe many of the other tributes have been seen sporting as well as some very similar kicks. Is she another tribute? She’s not on the Catching Fire Casting Page, but I’m guessing she’s one of the bunch. In fact, wouldn’t it be kind of funny if District 5 had a habit of churning out female tributes with red locks and she followed Foxface into the games?
The Idiom Is Catching Fire's Not-So-Secret Alternate Identity
Come on Lionsgate -- don’t you know The Hunger Games attracts some sharp fans? It didn’t take long for the fandom to figure out that casting calls for a film called The Idiom really were casting calls for Catching Fire. Looking to have your moment in the spotlight in the second film? If you’re of a dark-skinned ethnicity, 18 and up, and available on October 2, you can reply to the latest casting call. Don’t fit the bill? The Idiom is also on the hunt for trained dancers between the ages of 18 and 60, and I’m willing to bet those folks will have the chance to be part of a certain lavish Capitol party.
As if Lionsgate acquiring Summit and growing into an even bigger powerhouse wasn’t enough, the studio is also making moves to become a force to be reckoned with overseas. As reported by Variety, Lionsgate inked a new multi-year deal with Studiocanal, strengthening their existing agreement by covering more countries, specifically German-speaking territories. On top of that, Lionsgate also upped its presence in Asia by enhancing its partnership with Celestial Tiger to include all of East Asia.
The Panem Companion
We’re certainly not at a loss for news, but if you’re looking for something to keep you busy in between photo galleries, check out the latest from the company that brought you The Girl Who Was on Fire, Smart Pop Books. Even if you’ve read Suzanne Collins’ series time and time again, and have hit the theater for the feature more than once, you still might need a little help mapping out Panem and figuring out all of the details of the country’s culture, socioeconomics and politics. That’s where The Panem Companion comes in.
The book features chapters on the history of Panem, details on mythology, folktales and music, information on where each character’s name may have been derived from as well as sections entirely devoted to particular districts including District 4 and District 11. Interested in being completely in the know when it comes to Panem? Pre-order your copy of The Panem Companion on Amazon.
Or perhaps the better question is, now what not? Via Lionsgate’s commencement of principal photography press release, production will likely wrap in late December, which means we’ve got a full three months of shooting. The filmmakers will probably lock the set down when it's time to film the weightier material, but if photographers are pulling in this many photos only days into the shoot, I’m betting they’ll continue to come in at a rather steady pace. Does that mean they should? Of course not, and I do sincerely hope those photographers respect the cast and crew’s personal and creative privacy, but there’s definitely a little greedy part of me who has her fingers crossed for more. In the meantime, rounding out that Catching Fire casting chart would be enough for me!
The Hunger Games Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday. There are 428 days until the release of Catching Fire.