Here is an exclusive article from The Hollywood Reporter. Read and find out nine facts about the Hunger Games movie with behind the scenes video of the Hunger Games fab four (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Director Gary Ross)
From budgets and salaries, to the accident that sent star Jennifer Lawrence to the hospital, the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter features director Gary Ross and never-revealed details about the fast-approaching pop culture phenomenon, in theaters March 23.
The first of four parts in Suzanne Collins‘ massively popular book series The Hunger Games, about two dozen children randomly chosen to compete for survival, opens March 23 on more than 4,000 screens across the country. The film’s reception could determine whether its stars — Jennifer Lawrence, 21; Josh Hutcherson, 19; and Liam Hemsworth, 22 — ascend to Kristen Stewart–Robert Pattinson–Taylor Lautner superstardom and fill the gap opening as Twilight heads toward its final chapter.
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For Lionsgate, which has struggled recently at the box office (Abduction, Conan the Barbarian), Games is its first major test since acquiring Summit Entertainment, the studio behind The Twilight Saga franchise, in January — a move that yokes together execs responsible for the most recent youth phenomenon with those hoping to launch the next. Games’ success could impact the future of many at Lionsgate, all eager to claim credit for the Collins adaptation, now that the film division has named Summit’s Robert Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger to run it.
“After the trailer launched Nov. 14, we had 8 million views in the first 24 hours,” says Lionsgate Films president Joe Drake. “We were the number one Twitter trend on the planet. Since then, the book sales have jumped 7.5 million copies. That kind of data gives us enormous confidence.”
Hollywood Reporterexecutive editor, features, Stephen Galloway, was tasked with talking to director Gary Ross and cast on the cusp of their potential superstardom. The Oscar-nominated Ross and others close to the movie revealed many previously unknown secrets surrounding the highly-anticipated film.
Here are some of the never-before-revealed details from THR‘s cover story:
1. JENNIFER LAWRENCE TOOK THREE DAYS TO SAY YES TO THE ROLE OF KATNISS
Numerous actresses were considered for the lead — among them Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) — but Ross never felt he had the right person. Then he met Lawrence, fresh off an Oscar nomination for Winter’s Bone, the 2010 indie release that put her on the map. But Lawrence hesitated, aware this could take her from being respected by her peers to the center of a pop-culture tornado — precisely the fate that had befallen Stewart with Twilight. “It was the middle of the night in England, and I was in bed when I got the call,” she remembers. “And I was so in love with the books and the script, and suddenly it was right in my face — and the size of the decision was terrifying.”
Her mom helped in the decision. “I called my mom and she called me a hypocrite, because when I was doing indie movies and everyone was asking why I didn’t do studio movies, I said, ‘The size of the movie doesn’t matter.’ And she said, ‘Here’s a movie you love and you were thinking of turning it down because of its size.’ I thought, ‘I don’t want to miss out because I’m scared. Me being scared, I never want that to stop me fromdoing something.’ But I knew in my heart that I wanted it — it was about working out all the fears.”
2. SO HOW MUCH IS LAWRENCE GETTING PAID?
Lawrence’s salary for the first film is a modest $500,000 (about what Stewart received for the first Twilight), plus “escalators,” bonuses based on the movie’s performance.
3. DIRECTOR GARY ROSS AND PRODUCER NINA JACOBSEN HAD STEEP COMPETITION
An Oscar-nominated writer for 1988’s Big and 1993’s Dave, Ross grew up in Hollywood, the son of Arthur A. Ross, writer of Creature From the Black Lagoon. Ross was used to a comfortable life with his wife, producer Allison Thomas (The Tale of Despereaux), writing in the morning, working out in the afternoon and earning several hundred thousand dollars per month as one of Hollywood’s top script doctors. Every film he’d helmed (including 1998’s Pleasantville) had come from his own mind; he’d never had to compete as a director-for-hire — let alone against Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and David Slade (Twilight: Eclipse), who also were salivating after the job. Ross, being paid in the $3-4 million range, fought hard for his right to be behind the camera. “I hadn’t seen a piece of material that touched the culture and moved me the same way in a very long time,” he explains. “And if you fully commit, you fully commit.”
And he wasn’t alone in his fight for the right to create the world of Panem. Jacobson, who has produced movies such as One Day and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, obtained the book’s rights against fierce competition from the likes of Ridley Scott.
4. HOW MUCH THE MOVIE COST
Lionsgate operated on a really, really tight budget. True, it was handing Collins hundreds of thousands to option her novels (and will end up paying her millions if the film succeeds), but it was hoping to make Games for $60 million — more than the $35 million Summit had paid for Twilight, but negligible for a tentpole that needed months on location and 1,200 CGI shots. Ross wrote a script that would give the material its due without costing a fortune (the picture eventually came in at slightly over $90 million, reduced to $78 million after subsidies). He drew on his familiarity with such intimidating places as China’s Tiananmen Square and the architectural form known as Brutalism when it came to conceiving the Capitol — the city at the center of Collins’ brave new world of Panem, set hundreds of years in the future.
5. THE LEAD TRIO IS CONTRACTED FOR ENTIRE FRANCHISE
Ross already is committed to the first sequel, Catching Fire, which he hopes to start shooting in September from a script by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), and the three young stars all are signed up for the full franchise.
6. LAWRENCE’S ACCIDENT ALMOST HALTED FILMING OF ‘HUNGER GAMES’
On the last day of her six-week training phase, in which she’d become an expert at using a bow and arrow, climbing and jumping, Lawrence hit a wall — literally. “I had to do 10 ‘wall runs,’ where you run at the wall as hard as you can to get traction,” she recalls, explaining that her trainer would make her race at a wall with maximum speed to gain the momentum needed to propel her up. “I ran at it and my foot didn’t go up, so I caught the wall with my stomach. My trainer thought I had burst my spleen. I had to get a CAT scan and go into a tube where they put this fiery liquid in your body.” Fortunately, she was in great shape from her previous film. “I was still pretty bulked up from X-Men: First Class,” she says. “So a lot of the training was getting muscle back, heightening the muscles without building them. I loved the archery — well, I have a love-hate relationship with it.” With her trainer holding her hand, Lawrence learned she was badly bruised but nothing was broken — and work could continue.
7. THE ‘HUNGER GAMES’ SET HAD 100-DEGREE HEAT AND BEARS
There were bears. Some 300 of them living in the woods, and they would come out at the slightest scent of food. And there was the 100-degree heat and the rain that showered down daily, almost precisely at 4 p.m., at least giving Ross the chance to give his team a break. Between the rain and losing light early behind the trees, “we’d only get to shoot four or five hours a day,” he says. But Jacobson says Ross was never ruffled. Adds Hutcherson, “He always had a smile on his face” — even during the hardest moments.
8. THE ‘HUNGER GAMES’ CAST HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM YET
Investors have pushed the Lionsgate stock up in the weeks since the Summit deal, partly because they think combining Twilight’s executives with the Games fan base will work magic for this new franchise. But few people — and none of the cast — have yet seen the finished film, despite a worldwide marketing campaign that ranges from action figures to nail polish. Everyone, everywhere, is waiting to see if the movie delivers.
9. LIAM HEMSWORTH’S BROTHER TOLD HIM TO LOSE WEIGHT
“My brother Chris texted me before shooting and told me to lose weight. He said, ‘It’s called The Hunger Games, not The Eating Games!’ “
Here is a list of trivia you must know about our favorite film “The Hunger Games.”
Did you know that?
Jennifer Lawrence dyed her hair black to play our mockingjay Katniss Everdeen?
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss
As Peeta Mellark (the boy with the bread), Josh Hutcherson dyed his hair blonde to bring the character in life.
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
Like Jennifer, Liam Hemsworth also darkened his hair to portray Gale Hawthorne, Katniss’ best friend and hunting partner.
Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne
Canadian actor Alexander Ludwig initially auditioned for the role of Peeta Mellark but was lost to Josh Hutcherson. However, he was later cast as Cato, a career tribute from District 2, who happens to be Katniss’ nastiest enemy.
Alexander Ludwig as Cato
Like Alexander Ludwig, Liam Hemsworth first read the script for the role of Peeta Mellark, but later, he was cast as Katniss’ hunting partner Gale Hawthorne.
The Hunger Games film was shot in North Carolina – Asheville, Charlotte, Shelby, and Wilmington.
Chloë Grace Moretz, Mary Mouser, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Lyndsy Fonseca, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Roberts, Kaya Scodelario, Emily Browning and Shailene Woodley were considered to play Katniss, the lead role. Jennifer Lawrence beat them all.
Actresses who auditioned for Katniss
Isabelle Fuhrman also auditioned for the role of Katniss but was turned down because she was too young. A couple of days later she received an offer to play Katniss’ brutal girl rival Clove (Cato’s partner from District 2) and accepted it.
Isabelle Fuhrman as Clove
Alex Pettyfer, Lucas Till, Nico Tortorella, Alexander Ludwig, Evan Peters and Hunter Parrish were considered to play Peeta Mellark. Hutcherson was later cast.
Actors who auditioned for Peeta
Liam Hemsworth, Chris Massoglia, David Henrie, Robbie Amell and Drew Roy were considered to play Gale. Hemsworth was ultimately cast.
Actors who auditioned for Gale
Jennifer Lawrence was initially cast as the lead in Savages, but dropped out to do this film instead.
The budget for the Hunger Games movie is $80 million, most expensive production ever for Lionsgate.
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth were already contracted to retain their roles in the entire franchise, which will be composed of four films with Mockingjay to be split in two parts.
Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth
Jennifer Lawrence’s (Katniss) salary for the first Hunger Games film is $500,000 plus “escalators,” bonuses based on the movie’s performance.
Liam Hemsworth was told by his brother Chris Hemsworth (Thor) to lose weight for the movie since it’s called the Hunger Games, not Eating Games.
It took three days before Jennifer Lawrence finally say “yes” to take the role of Katniss Everdeen. The size of the decision, according to her, was terrifying.
The production of the Hunger Games almost halted when Jennifer Lawrence was brought to the hospital because of an injury while training for wall climbing.
The Hunger Games breaks Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s advance ticket sales at Fandango’s nearly 12-year history — which is especially impressive for a March release and a non-sequel.
The Hunger Games breaks Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s advance ticket sales at Fandango
The Hunger Games earned $155 million on its opening weekend in the US, the third best opening ever — after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($169.1 million) and The Dark Knight ($158 million).
Hunger Games did very well in the US box office
The Hunger Games remains number 1 in the US box office for four weeks.
Composer Danny Elfman left the film due to a scheduling conflict and was replaced by James Newton Howard.
Despite its high popularity with teenagers and adults, Lionsgate has admitted that the chances of Catching Fire and Mockingjay being converted into films all depend on the money that ‘The Hunger Games’ makes.
The name of the main character, Katniss, is derived from the name of a group of edible plant species, genus “Sagittaria”, commonly known as “arrowhead”. This is a reference to the character’s archery skills.
The fictional nation in the film is called Panem. This is derived from “Panem et Circenses,” or “Bread and Circuses,” which comes from the latter days of the Roman Empire, in which the government would keep the masses satisfied not by performing their public services well, but by providing violent and deadly entertainments for the people to watch, which is rather fitting for the subject matter of the film.
The director has stated that his decision to go with shaky cam work, “had a lot to do with [the] urgency of what’s going on and [to reflect protagonist Katniss Everdeen’s] point of view.”
The design for the Cornucopia was inspired by the work of architect Frank Gehry.
This is not the first time actors Jennifer Lawrence and Paula Malcomson (Katniss and Mrs Everdeen) have worked together playing mother and daughter. The previous time was in the “Cold Case”(2003)_ episode, ‘A Dollar, A Dream’ in which Malcomson plays a homeless mother struggling to support her two children.
Katniss and her mother
During a New York Magazine interview, Wes Bentley said that the extremely unusual beard he wore as Seneca was styled from his own real beard, not created from applied pieces or extra hair. Bentley said that while he was in North Carolina filming the movie, he would often go to the local Target (a national department store chain) to buy things like baby formula while still sporting the “Seneca beard.”
Wes Bentley as Seneca
The second movie in two years (after Winter’s Bone) in which Jennifer Lawrence plays a character who feeds her destitute family and herself partly by catching and killing squirrels.
While horsing around on the set, Jennifer Lawrence accidentally kicked Josh Hutcherson in the head, knocking him out and resulting in a concussion.
The four-note melody that Katniss uses as her signal with Rue (and that plays at the end of most trailers) is G-Bb-A-D.
Though she appeared in all three books, and was featured prominently in the movie, actress Elizabeth Banks’s character’s name, Effie Trinket, was never mentioned in the movie.
Elizabeth Banks spent 45 minutes every day having manicures done on her fingers.
Alexander Ludwig worked out for four hours a day with a US Navy Seal to get into shape for his role as Cato. Same thing with Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth for their roles as Peeta and Gale, respectively.
Although it is mentioned briefly that Gale has had his name put into the drawing multiple times, it is not fully explained in the movie why someone might want to do this other than when Katniss tells Prim when she comes to say goodbye not to put her name in more because it’s not worth getting enough food. Each additional time a name is entered raises the possibility that the person will be selected to compete, and probably die, in the Games. In the source novel, it is explained that putting your name in an additional time garners your family an additional portion of grain and oil, so families experiencing especially terrible privation may put their children’s names into the drawing more than once in exchange for that small amount of extra food.
Effie and the Reaping bowl
In an interview with Slate, Elizabeth Banks said that she based Effie Trinket’s voice on the voice that Rosalind Russell used while playing the title character in the 1958 movie Auntie Mame.
Wilhelm scream: can be heard from one of the victims when Katniss Everdeen cuts off a tree branch and the nest of tracker jackers fall onto some of her opponents.
Katniss cutting the tracker jackers’ nest
May the odds be ever in your favor.
If you’ve got any trivia that you wanted to share about the Hunger Games movie, feel free to state it in the comments box below. Thank you.