The Hunger Games (2014)

Fast and Furious 7 PosterRelease Date: November 21, 2014

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Written by: Danny Strong, Suzanne Collins

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks

Synopsis:

Katniss Everdeen reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the autocratic Capitol.

Director Francis Lawrence has yet to even wrap his first Hunger Games film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but the helmer is apparently doing a stellar job, as Lionsgate has just announced that he is booked to direct the final two Hunger Games films. Lawrence will again be joined by stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth for the third and fourth installments of the already-massive YA franchise cash cow based on Suzanne Collins‘ book series. The second film, Catching Fire, is currently filming in Atlanta. From a script by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt, that film will send heroine Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and her possible paramour Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson) straight back into a brand new Hunger Games arena, mere months after the two barely escaped their last round in the battle-to-the-death. Catching Fire arrives in theaters on November 22, 2013.

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As any of us who’ve dressed up as movie characters for Halloween know, it’s the distinctly designed roles that make for the most interesting costumes. Nobody is dressing up as Alex Cross or Aaron Cross this year — not because their movies weren’t popular, but because the characters don’t have a very recognizable look. Peruse the popular suits for sale and clever homemade ideas this year and you’ll find mostly characters who wouldn’t be what they are without the craftwork of costume designers and makeup artists. That’s why I consider theirs the Halloween categories at the Oscars. And yet, the best and most common outfits and frightening faces aren’t necessarily those that tend to be recognized by the Academy. This year’s list of popular movie-related costumes predominantly consists of superheroes, which has been the norm for a while, but there are even more timely examples represented now thanks to the The Avengers featuring so many masked and caped crusaders. Also, we had another movie starring the Caped Crusader. And while once again Linda Hemming will be nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for a Batman movie (she was nominated for Batman Begins and won for The Dark Knight), it’s very unlikely that The Dark Knight Rises will earn her a second Oscar nomination let alone win (she won her first time nominated, for Topsy-Turvy).

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Danny Strong

According to Variety, Danny Strong has been hired to write the script for the final Hunger Games entry, Mockingjay. The film, based on the last book of the trilogy, will be split into two parts which will both be written by Strong once he finds a place to put down his Emmys. His hiring is an interesting move, although a bit unsurprising considering the political metaphor that hangs noticeably off the franchise. Strong wrote both Recount – the HBO movie that chronicled the 2000 election mess in Florida – and Game Change – the HBO movie that chronicled Sarah Palin’s political rise as the VP choice in the 2008 election. He also wrote the forthcoming The Butler, which takes place through several presidencies in the White House. So, yes, he’s familiar with politics. That should be helpful, especially because the Big Bad Dystopian Government concept is a bit more complex beneath the surface and demands to be taken seriously. The question is which direction that will take and how closely it will resemble Suzanna Collins‘ book. If there’s a chance here to draw comparisons to current governmental affairs, will Strong take it? Should he?

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Rian Johnson’s new film, Looper, is a pretty awesome time travel flick, one with as many elements that are clever and original as there are purposefully derivative and influenced. It’s the kind of smart and stylish sci-fi cinema we expect every once in a while on the festival circuit, like Sound of My Voice (which hits DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday), rather than from a major Hollywood studio. Looper does fit the indie model, though, since Sony/Tristar picked it up for distribution only after it was done shooting, yet as Brian’s review of the film attests, we can still consider it a good sign for mainstream movies of this genre, and we can hope that Hollywood will see Johnson as the sort of directorial talent they need. But is it the best science fiction film since The Matrix? That’s a question posed in a headline from Time magazine yesterday, though its respective post doesn’t address such a discussion let alone attempt to answer the inquiry. Well, if we exclude superhero movies, animated features (Pixar, Miyazaki and The Iron Giant among them) and the Star Trek reboot, Looper is currently one of only two original studio films of its order to be battling for the status of best reviewed since the Wachowskis’ groundbreaking modern classic. The other is Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.

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Sam Claflin in The Hunger Games

Those who are familiar with Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” novels know Finnick Odair. He’s the charming and gorgeous survivor of the 65th version of the games, who’s deadly with a trident and quick to blow the cameras a kiss – and he’s the sort of person who could mean trouble for the story’s protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, unless her and the cocky superstar from District 4 are able to find some common ground, and somehow become allies. The basic thrust of the plot for the second book, “Catching Fire,” is that a group of survivors from past Hunger Games are gathered together and forced to once again compete in an all-star version of the event referred to as the Quarter Quell. As discontent among the districts simmers in the background, Katniss and company find themselves once again thrust into danger, and once again thrust into the nation’s spotlight. Think of it like the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, but with slightly more murder. Suffice to say, Finnick is an important character from the second installment of this story on, so playing him in Lionsgate’s upcoming adaptation of the second book, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was probably a coveted job among many of the handsome young actors in Hollywood. Unfortunately for everyone who’s not Sam Claflin, they can stop sending in their head shots, because a press release from the studio has now confirmed that the Snow White and the Huntsman and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides actor has landed […]

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Drinking Games

Along with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, and Batman, a lesser-known heroine named Katniss Everdeen became one of the biggest box office draws of 2012. Now the immensely popular dystopian science fiction adventure The Hunger Games is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The Hunger Games tells the story of a dark future where the government punishes the people by forcing their children to fight to the death in an arena. You know the drill, basically a less-Japanese version of Battle Royale with some really funky fashions. Still, it’s an enjoyable film and worth enjoying with a drink in your hand.

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The Hunger Games

Today, the odds may ever be in your favor. Just as The Hunger Games was named by Amazon to be the e-tailer’s all-time best selling book series, the film adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence hits shelves on Blu-ray and DVD. And as $684 million in international box office grosses might suggest, this one’s a fairly popular choice among movie fans. So as a site that invites movie fans of all walks of life to discuss their favorite films, we thought it proper to take The Hunger Games and build a little mini-marathon that you can act out in your own living room. Because if you’re into this movie, you may have a taste for blood. Or tough girls. Either way, pairing The Hunger Games up with some of cinema’s great fights to the death is far from a bad idea. Or perhaps you’re just a guy who is going to be asked to sit and watch the Katniss movie by the girl of your dreams. Why not propose a trade? “We’ll watch the teen lit film if we can also watch one of these…” With that in mind, we’d like to know which great blood sports you’d pair with The Hunger Games. But first, a few suggestions.

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Game of Thrones Board Game

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column dedicated to the cool, the weird, the entertaining, the brief, the good, the bad and the ugly of the entertainment news world. Also, there’s some philosophical talk about Sharktopus, because that’s just how the Internet rolls. We begin this evening with an image of a handmade Game of Thrones board game that is absolutely fabulous. Created by Fay Helfer, it’s basically a Risk board in the shape and detail of Westeros. And it’s brilliant.

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Welcome to This Week In DVD + This Week In Blu-ray = This Week In Discs! It’s a work in progress still, but we hope you enjoy. The entertainment industry appears to be celebrating our new baby by releasing a cinemetric ton of quality Blus and DVDs. Hope you’ve been saving your pennies… As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Father’s Day (Blu-ray/DVD) A young boy loses his eye to a sadistic madman after witnessing the murderous pervert rape and kill his father. Years later, Ahab is a pissed off, pistol-packing ex-con out for revenge and joined in his quest by a teenage (well, Porky’s kind of teenage anyway) street hustler and a young priest on a quest to send the demonic psychopath to the bowels of hell. In a week with The Raid, Kill List and Jaws all hitting Blu-ray why am I featuring this Troma release as my Pick of the Week? Because those titles have enough press behind them, and Father’s Day deserves some too. It’s gory as hell, foul as f*ck and funnier than any other movie featuring chainsaw-wielding strippers. If you can handle the bloodletting and copious nudity, both female and male (way, way too much male), then this is a four-disc special edition worth owning. You get the movie on Blu and DVD, a DVD of special features and a soundtrack CD. [Extras: Deleted scenes, Featurettes, Trailers, Short films by Astron-6]

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Gary Ross shocked the world by directing one of the year’s most wildly successful films, The Hunger Games, and then opting out of coming back and making its sequel. What could he possibly have to do that’s more important than making another bajillion dollars by directing Jennifer Lawrence shooting arrows at people? So far, we’re not exactly sure. He’s become attached to a biopic about the life of famed magician Houdini, but there’s no concrete word whether or not that’s actually going to be his next job. And now another possibility has popped up. THR is reporting that the director is currently in talks to helm an adaptation of the children’s novel “Peter and the Starcatchers” over at Disney. The book, which was written by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson and has already been adapted into a successful (it won five Tonys!) stage production, is a Peter Pan prequel that tells the story of Peter and a girl named Molly going off on an adventure that involves the keeping of a trunk filled with magical starstuff out of the clutches of the evil pirate Black Stache (so called because of his back mustache, who knows what he’d be called if he got his own boat and had his hand replaced by a hook…). A screenwriter by the name of Jesse Wigutow is said to be penning the adaptation.

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The final day of Comic-Con has traditionally been the most quiet one – a good time to catch up on more low-key panels, spend time with friends, and buy a metric ton of cool stuff on the convention floor. This year at Comic-Con, however, proved to be one of the most busy and wild, so even Sunday afternoon didn’t provide much relief, even on the floor. But such a still-bumping last day did provide plenty of still-awesome material for your eyeballs. After the break, check out a (somewhat) quieting San Diego, new NECA toys for The Dark Knight Rises, Gremlins, and The Hunger Games, a wall of Tribbles, and – you better believe it – Avenger Playboy Bunnies.

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As has long been rumored, Lionsgate will split the final book of Suzanne Collins‘ smash hit book trilogy into two films (how hip of them). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay will hit screens for double the fun fun fun child-killing, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 arriving on November 21, 2014 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II winging into theaters on November 20, 2015. With the second film in the franchise, Catching Fire, taking over a similar November spot for its release (November 22, 2013), this positions the entire franchise (save the first film, which opened in March) in what had been The Twilight Saga’s traditional release date space.

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You know what The Hunger Games: Catching Fire really needs? Some gravitas. Though the first film was an unmitigated success, and it certainly benefited from its young and vibrant cast, most the of “elder statesman” work fell on the shoulders of Donald Sutherland as evil President Snow. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone around that we can trust? If you’re unfamiliar with the second book in Suzanne Collins‘ smash hit book series, a brief character description of the brand new Head Gamemaker for The Hunger Games, Plutarch Heavensbee, might not make you feel the warm and fuzzies. After all, Wes Bentley‘s cold and calculating Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, seemed bent on rivaling snow for the film’s evil points, and how could anyone in his same position be anything less than a foe? Well, perhaps when he’s played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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While rumors have been swirling for months over possible candidates for some meaty roles in the upcoming The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, today brings the first news that even remotely resembles a casting confirmation. THR reports that Jena Malone is in talks to play tribute Johanna Mason in the upcoming film. “I volunteer as tribute!” says Malone. Sigh, say fans of the franchise. The role of Mason is a key one – along with fan favorite Finnick Odair, Johanna is one of the most essential new characters we meet in Suzanne Collins‘ second novel in her three-book series. Snide, snarky, mean, and biting, Johanna is one of many other former tributes who get introduced in Catching Fire, and she’s one of the most complex and confusing. She’s also one of the most severely damaged.

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In a roundabout spiral of movie news from Cinema Blend via The Playlist via Deadline Barsoom, we are seeing another explosion of development frenzy. This time, instead of competing movies about Snow White or The Wizard of Oz, there are now multiple Tarzan movies getting put through the development wringer. According to the story, screenwriter Adam Cozad (Untitled Jack Ryan Reboot/Remake/Redo/Rehash) talks about his script for Tarzan generating interest from some major directors, including David “Four Harry Potters” Yates and Gary “Only One Hunger Games” Ross. Suzanne White, who is most known for her work on television but recently directed Nanny McPhee Returns, has also expressed interest. This film would be the second one in development, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ famous novels about a boy stranded in the African jungle, raised by great apes. Craig Brewer (Footloose and Hustle & Flow) is already developing his own version of the story based on his own script and starring Twilight beefcake Kellan Lutz. No word yet whether Lutz as the title character will rap or sparkle in this film, but it is hard out here for a pimp ape man.

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Fans of Suzanne Collins’ whimsical child murder novel, “The Hunger Games,” will tell you that one of the big differences between her book and its eventual film adaptation was that the role of the deadly games’ designer, Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), was dramatically increased for the screen. In the book we see the events of the games from solely the protagonist’s perspective, so the deadly obstacles that are put in her path always come as a surprise. But in the film, we see Bentley’s character setting everything up and reacting to the ways the players handle his tricks and traps. It made the position of the Gamemaker seem far more important than it ever had before. Seeing as Bentley’s character had fallen out of favor with the powers that be by the end of The Hunger Games, its sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is going to have to find a new puppet master. And given the newfound importance of the role in the story’s movie universe, as well as the fact that the second Gamemaker is a more important character than the first in the source material, Catching Fire’s director, Francis Lawrence, will seemingly have to find a big name actor to step into the role. There isn’t need to worry though, reports are he’s already made an important move toward doing just that.

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Today’s big story: Sure, The Avengers has made truck loads of money at the box office, but will The Dark Knight Rises make more? At least that’s what I’ve gathered from checking in on Twitter while disposing of Woodchuck Cider bottles in between episodes of my usual Sunday Afternoon Top Gear Marathon. Upon further inspection, we’ll come to note that Joss Whedon’s high-flying superhero team-up movie netted a staggering $103.4 million in its second week of release, dwarfing the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaboration Dark Shadows, which nostalgia-crawled its way to a $28 million dollar opening. As it turns out, the folks at Warner Bros. were hoping for something a little bit more.

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You know their resume by now: Date Movie, Epic Movie, Vampires Suck; writing and directing duo Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are in the spoof business, and they’re famous for it because of how bad they are. Or, at least, they’re famous here on the Internet because of how bad they are. Out there in the real world their movies seem to be pretty well-liked, because each unfunny failure they churn out ends up raking in enough money at the box office to give them the chance to make more. The real world is a scary place. The cycle of abuse continues. Apparently enough teenagers used the release of Vampires Suck as an excuse to make out in the dark for it to be profitable, because Friedberg and Seltzer are getting yet another chance to regale us with their insightful take on the state of modern films. This time they’re going to be taking on The Hunger Games by releasing a parody film called The Starving Games.

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Culture Warrior

Crowding a movie with talent often seems like a good idea only in the abstract sense. In practice, such films can easily feel overstuffed. For example, the basic conceits for both The Expendables and Grown Ups sound like products of wishful thinking held during a drunk conversation between a group of 19-year-olds at 3am. Yes, in theory a movie featuring all of the action stars of the 80s or the most successful SNL cast since the late-70s would be great – however, a bunch of famous people do not a seminal action film or great comedy make. What’s most surprising about Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is that the whole somehow proved greater than its parts. A movie with this quantity of iconic superheroes runs the incredible risk of being overstuffed and only half-cooked. The standards created by previous Hollywood films indicate that studios would be happy enough allowing the conflagration of bankable characters stand in for (or, more accurately, distract from the lack of) actual entertainment value; mammoth opening weekends, after all, are always more a sign of effective marketing than good filmmaking. But The Avengers not only stands as an equal to some of the stronger entries in Marvel’s 4-year, 5-film multiverse-building, but is arguably superior. Some of these characters came across more fully-fleshed and three-dimensional as part of an ensemble than in their respective standalone films.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Tonight it’s all about learning. We’ll show you the world, pretty babes. Things like destination posters for the whole of Westeros, what can be learned from Batman, Veronica Mars, Morgan Spurlock’s mustache, The Hunger Games, the Marvel Cinematic Timeline, Felicia Day dancing in an elevator, Damon Lindelof, Kickstarter, James Cameron’s obsession with blue people and of course, the world of men’s grooming. It’s going to be a wet and wild ride for a Monday, friends. We begin this evening with something Game of Thrones related. Because Game of Thrones — be it books or show — is slowly taking over the life of yours truly. And that’s just fine with me. Artist Nicholas Hyde has begun selling very cool Game of Thrones destination posters, found via The Mary Sue. At one time there was one for The Wall, Winterfell and King’s Landing alongside the currently listed posters for The Eyrie and Pyke. It’s hard to say whether or not the others have sold out (and even harder to say whether or not I had anything to do with that. Above, you will see Winterfell. Below the jump, I’ve got The Wall and King’s Landing rounded up. Hopefully Mr. Hyde will print more soon.

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