For the first time in months, there is no Hunger Games casting news to report. Well, there was that item claiming that Tim Taylor snagged a part as a Gamemaker, but as Lionsgate has yet to confirm the news, we’re going to let that one be for the time being. So, for two weeks, The Hunger Games has gone without adding any new faces and, well, that’s the nature of filmmaking. Now that we’re beyond the casting stages, there’s other items pouring in, namely reports from the set.
For the past few weeks production has been hot and heavy in Shelby, North Carolina. About a month ago, the crew began invading the town, throwing up roadblocks left and right and since, we’ve been fortunate enough to catch glimpses of Panem coming to life.
Much of the Shelby filming seemed to revolve around the portions that play out in Katniss and Peeta’s home district. One of the first notable images to hit the web was of a structure labeled “District 12,” right beside some train tracks nonetheless. Sure enough, an image of a train car branded with the Capitol logo surfaced soon after, which leads me to believe the rumors are true; Shelby was the shooting location for the reaping scene after which poor Katniss and Peeta board a train to the Capitol for the Games. Also falling in line with this supposed shooting schedule is the appearance of Elizabeth Banks in full Effie Trinket attire. Unfortunately, Lionsgate requested that both the shots of Banks as Effie and the Capitol logo be tucked away for the time being, but if you were lucky enough to catch them while they were live, you know that the production is moving in the right direction – visually at least.
In other exciting Shelby news, apparently they’ve actually constructed a Capitol hovercraft and the vehicle was the focus of a scene that was shot about a week ago. Now that’s something I’d love to see an image of.
Meanwhile, over at the Henry River Mill Village, an abandoned town in Hildebran, there was quite a bit of talk about a supposed explosion. While there is one notable explosion in the arena, should Henry River Mill Village be a District 12-specific shooting location, the only possible scene this explosion could be associated with is the one that took the life of Katniss and Gale’s fathers during the infamous mining accident. We never actually see the incident play out in the book; we only know of it through Katniss’ memories and the scars it left behind. It looks as though the film version could offer a firsthand look at the tragedy, albeit perhaps a slightly altered version as the structure that went kaboom was a house rather than a mineshaft. Down With The Capitol actually has a very interesting and plausible theory on the topic, which you can read about here.
Now that the production has wrapped in both Shelby and Hildebran, the latest location that must make way for The Hunger Games is Dupont State Forest, the reported site of the arena scenes. Little has come out of that set just yet and as this is a more secluded forest rather than a populated town, odds are, Lionsgate will have a better shot at keeping things under wraps.
In non-set news, a recent Life & Style story has fans up in arms over potential plans to beef up the romantic elements of the story. In the book, Katniss spends most of her time with Peeta in the Capitol and the arena while Gale remains home in District 12, almost entirely absent from the story except for Katniss’ recollections. What’s a love triangle when one party isn’t present to fight for the romance? According to the article, “scenes have been added in to give the heartthrob a larger role on-screen and make the love triangle steamier and a bigger aspect early on in the franchise,” that heartthrob being Liam Hemsworth as Gale. Click right here to read more about this issue in our recent article, Fans Weigh In: Should 'The Hunger Games' Play Up The Love Triangle?
Meanwhile, speaking of the story, one item that didn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserved was a message from the author of the series herself, Suzanne Collins. Collins took some time to clear the air and break down the adaptation process. It’s brief, but still worthy of your attention as it details who actually had a hand in the script. Check out the letter in its entirety here.
We’ve also got some exciting news out of the International Licensing Expo (via Coming Soon). Not only does the film’s very first teaser poster rock the iconic Mockingjay symbol, but it reveals the film’s official tagline, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” In other promotional news, albeit unofficial news, a group calling themselves The Gamemakers created a viral campaign of their own, almost. They launched sites through which you could sign up for tesserae, one called “Government of Panem” featuring a countdown clock and the message “See you in October” and another called “Mellark Bakery” where you could order loaves of bread. According to DWTC, the tesserae site once had this disclaimer: “Please know that PanemOctober is a fan-made ARG for the Hunger Games upcoming film … This website is in no way affiliated with Scholastic, Lionsgate Films, Suzanne Collins or any HG-related officials.” Well, apparently that wasn’t enough because as of late last night, the Gamemakers of Welcome to Panem had to put an end to their effort at the studios’ urging.
Lastly, we’re in the midst of a naming revolution. A slew of Hunger Games fan sites are working on an effort to top the Twihards and Potterphiles by coming up with something far more charming and bold for fans of The Hunger Games. I’ve come across a bunch of incredibly appropriate suggestions like The Mockingjays and The Rebels as well as some I’d rather not adopt like The Buttercups and The Hungries. Of all the suggestions, I’m leaning towards The Tributes as it’s deeply rooted in a central element of the story, bears a great deal of depth and is quite simple. And apparently many other fans are in agreement. The options that made it to the final six are Tributes, Mockingjays, Jabberjays, Hunger Gamers, Rebels and Hunger Games Fans (HG Fans).
The Fan Sites Weigh In – Scenes Not In The Book That Could Be Suitable For The Film
Adapting a beloved book for the big screen is a testy venture. If you stick too closely to the source material, you run the risk of alienating non-book fans as well as potentially working with a story that simply isn’t fitting for the film format. Then again, should changes be made, filmmakers could also feel the wrath of fans desperate to keep the story intact.
Of course we want the film to do the book justice, but there’s no harm in finding a happy medium. In fact, The Hob and Theresa of Down With The Capitol have narrowed it down some prime parts missing from the book that could make for fantastic big screen moments.
1) Flashback to Mr. and Mrs. Everdeen Meeting (Maybe one detailing how Peeta's father was in love with Mrs. Everdeen, too.)
We think this one is important because it will shed some light on the relationship between Katniss' parents, driving home exactly why Mrs. Everdeen fell into such a deep depression after her husband died, which led Katniss to resent her and having to be the primary caregiver of her family. If we see some flashbacks between her parents, it will really show readers how in love they were and why it destroyed Mrs. Everdeen so immensely that she couldn't even pull out of the depression for her own children. (The Hob)
2) Family Interviews
It’d be interesting to see the interviews with the friends and families of the final eight tribute in the arena. I’m curious to see how The Capitol interviewer spins the happenings in the arena for the audience. (Theresa)
3) Flashback to Haymitch in the Games
We don't think this is likely as they will probably merely state that as the District 12 mentor, he’s a previous victor, while the effects will be visible through his behavior. His back story comes into play more in Catching Fire, but it would be nice to show Haymitch as a likable person and not just the drunken, rude, brash guy that Katniss first meets. (The Hob)
4) The Audience, Family and Gale’s Reaction To What’s Happening in the Games
This will show what impact the games make on those outside of the arena, how difficult it is for their families to be sitting at home watching this on TV and how heart wrenching it must be for a mother and father to watch their child be killed for entertainment. It would also be interesting to see some of the Capitol citizens' reactions. Are they really as okay with all this as the government of the Capitol makes you think? Perhaps they go along with the fanfare because they’re afraid of the consequences of going against President Snow, but maybe in the privacy of their own homes, they find it just as appalling as the family members and citizens of the districts. For those that actually enjoy it, it would be interesting to see how brainwashed and out of touch they are with humanity. This would be a great place for Suzanne Collins to step in and tell us a side to the story that we weren't privy to at all in the books. (The Hob)
The whole idea of pulling back and seeing the audience responses is an important one that I hope they undertake. Not only would it add interesting scenes, it also reminds the audience that what is happening in the arena is being televised and that we, as a theatre audience, are watching people watching screens. We, in essence, are the Capitol audience. I’d also really like to see The Gamemakers and President Snow's reactions to what is going on in the arena. (Theresa)
5) Seeing Haymitch Interact with the Sponsors
Are there negotiations playing up your Tributes to gain favors and gifts? Can someone like Haymitch, who won the games and is wealthy because of it, use his own money to purchase things, or is that not allowed? What tactics does he use to "sell" his tributes to sponsors? (The Hob)
Before I wrap up this edition of The Hunger Games Countdown, I’d like to draw your attention to a project that not only has great appeal for diehard fans of the series, but could be the perfect way for Hunger Games newcomers to catch up on the goods. Today, Down With The Capitol kicks off its Hunger Games Read Along and will continue to discuss three chapters of the book every Wednesday until the final page of The Hunger Games. Click here to check out the details. I know I’ll be following along!
The Hunger Games Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday. There's 281 days until release.