Happy New Year to all of you Mockingjays! Better late than never, as Emy reported earlier, we were both fortunate enough to attend the premiere of Catching Fire, and I’m thrilled to finally share my own experience at the event.
By now, most of you have likely already seen the film (at least once) and I agree with Emy that they really took it up a notch. It seems with Catching Fire, they embraced the basic premise that so many fans love about the series so much: the uprising. Much of the film conveys the revolutionary aspect, in some ways more than the actual games in the arena. I found it a very empowering movie, especially through the eyes of a female. Not only via Katniss, but even through Johanna Mason, who stood out to me as one of the stronger characters; fearless, angry, and yet committed to cooperating with fellow tributes for a specific end-goal.
So the film itself aside, my experience at the premiere was fantastic. Although it was chilly and we had to wait outside for some time, it was worth every second. I felt especially privileged to be afforded the opportunity to give CatchingFireMovie.org a shout-out live from Yahoo’s Streaming Live from the Red Carpet! It was a pretty surreal moment to stand there, glance around, and see famous faces, cameras, and the whole elaborate set-up all around.
Inside the theater, the producer, director, and full main cast came out on stage before the film began, and though I don’t usually get extremely star-struck, I confess that seeing that entire group together did it for me. The film, as I mentioned before, did not disappoint. And having a handful of tributes from the first movie sitting a few rows behind us made the experience even better. The mood inside the theater was unlike any film I’ve ever seen. Being surrounded by those who worked on the set, and their friends and family there for support, resulted in a vibe that was much more enthusiastic, involved, and even a little hyped than a normal movie-going experience. I highly recommend, to anyone who can manage it, save up and get tickets to a premiere at least once in your life. It’s worth it!
We were also lucky enough to attend the party for a short while after the film, which of course was done beautifully. The decor was perfectly themed, the atmosphere subdued but fun, and we were even able to meet a couple of the tributes, who were very gracious.
Overall, the whole event was mind-blowing, and one I won’t forget. I’m proud of the entire cast and crew for bringing such a fantastic adaption of the book to the big screen, and am only more excited for the next. A tremendous thank you to Will, as well as Lionsgate, for allowing us the chance to attend such an amazing event!
Sorry for the delay, Mockingjays, but we do have a winner to announce for our giveaway of The Panem Companion! And thanks to a few adamant requests for a photo of the ridiculous looking Capitol hat from which the name would be drawn, I caved and decided to give the people what they want. Did you know that unicorn hats are all the rage this year in the Capitol? Well… you do now.
Anway, our lucky winner is Chrissy Simoncelli Pfeiffer! Congrats, and enjoy the book! Now the rest of you can go find a copy and tell us if you think Peeta and Prim are related…
Welcome to District 10, where we handle all of your ranching and dairy needs! We’re here to celebrate V. Arrow’s release of The Panem Companion, and to mark the occasion, we will be giving away a copy of the book, and scored a brief, exclusive interview with the author!
To win a copy of the book (sorry to trans-oceanic Mockingjays, shipping is within the U.S. and Canada only), just leave a comment to this post, and your name will be put in a ridiculous looking hat from The Capitol. Comment quick, though, because our drawing will be done on December 12th.
Below is our exclusive interview with V. Arrow, as well as the District 10 excerpt from the book. Good luck to all contest entrants, and if you don’t win, be sure to get your hands on this book. You’ll be surprised by how much you didn’t know about the beloved series.
Interview with V. Arrow:
1. What compelled you to write The Panem Companion?
I have a lot of passion for, and belief in, fan communities and the intelligence and nuance that they really bring out in looking at various forms of media. I think it’s really unfair, too, that fandom and fan communities are pretty summarily dismissed by the mainstream, or even by the “nerd zeitgeist,” when they center on a popular phenomenon like The Hunger Games (or Twilight or boy bands or YA lit in general or what have you), because the amount of care that fans put into discussing their media and transforming it via fan-works is really, really incredible and a thing that should be celebrated. So I’m really sick of fan guides that just explain basic concepts and act like fans haven’t already realized that Katniss, Peeta, and Gale were a love triangle!
2. What was the most challenging part in writing the book?
Probably organizing my ideas enough… I have a habit of jumping from Point A to Point F and assuming that people can see into my head to connect the dots, when of course they can’t, haha! I had to rewrite a few of the chapters many, many times before I’d finally explained the actual extrapolations sufficiently.
3. If you had to pick, which chapter are you most excited for readers to dive into, and why?
I’m really excited about the Gender, Sexuality, and Exploitation chapter, just because it was fascinating and horrifying to really research into how our own contemporary reality TV is reflected by Katniss- and Peeta’s Games strategy and Plutarch’s attitudes. But I also really love the chapters about District 4, District 11, and Cinna!
4. What is your personal favorite of the three books in The Hunger Games trilogy?
Catching Fire! It’s actually what helped me narrow down what I wanted The Panem Companion to be about, since TPC is about *Panem itself* and we get to see the most parts of the country and its people in Catching Fire, as opposed to The Hunger Games and Mockingjay. I loved reading about the Victory Tour and I LOVED all of the Quell tribute characters!
5. What do you hope readers come away with most after reading The Panem Companion?
For readers who aren’t or have not been involved with fandom(s) in the past, I’d love for them to come away with maybe more appreciation for how much thought and care and discourse really goes on in fan media and fan-works, because I do think that fandom can be a sort of insular world that looks… maybe facile or silly to outsiders when really, like I said, I think it’s a hugely empowering and important subculture. For fans of The Hunger Games, I just hope that I wrote something they haven’t already discussed themselves and that they have something new to debate with each other!
District 10 – Excerpt from The Panem Companion by V. Arrow:
“The obvious exception, at least outwardly, to the aromantic tone of the series is the ‘love triangle’ between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. It’s important to address this up front because, though sex and gender may play a pivotal role in the trilogy and in Panem, that role has nothing to do with the Katniss-Peeta-Gale story—which is not really a ‘love’ triangle at all.
“The most frequent understanding of the Katniss-Peeta-Gale love triangle is purely allegorical. Katniss, at the precipice of inevitable war and experiencing her first true chance to make affecting choices, must choose between Peeta, representing noble intentions, and Gale, representing revenge. At the time of The Hunger Games’ writing, the United States was three years into the war in Iraq and just learning that Iraq did not in fact possess weapons of mass destruction. Justification for warfare was a hot topic both in the media and among US citizens.
“Although it could be argued that the ‘love triangle’ is both an allegory and a true narrative love triangle, that is still not quite true. For the story to have been a real love triangle, Katniss would need to be in love with both Peeta and Gale, or at least romantically or sexually involved with both men. She isn’t.”
Panem Names glossary excerpt:
Dalton, District 10 Refugee to District 13 who specializes in genetic manipulation
“Dalton means from the valley town. He may be named for Sir Howard Dalton, a British geneticist who died in 2008—approximately during the writing of Mockingjay, in which the Hunger Games’ Dalton appears.”
Check out the very first glimpse into the Catching Fire movie universe with the reveal of this gorgeous motion poster. You may have seen it in front of Breaking Dawn Part 2, but now you can experience it in all its glory at home.
Even better, you can share it for a chance to have your name in the credits of Catching Fire!
To win, share #TheSpark.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review a copy of The Panem Companion by V. Arrow (available on sale December 2012 via Smart Pop Books). This in an extensively researched book; I was surprised to see the lengths the author took in researching details to which I never gave a second thought. Did you ever wonder what the meaning was behind every single last character’s name? If so, get this book. My compliments to V. Arrow in putting forth so many investigative hours to present a book to the public that will bring new depth and meaning to die-hard fans of the series. It also gave me a renewed respect for Suzanne Collins, who clearly put a lot more thought into particulars than the general public realizes.
This book is definitely for that exact demographic: the intense fans who can’t get enough of The Hunger Games series. If you do not fall within that group, it can be a bit monotonous in areas. Knowing, however, that it was written for those who want to know more about the world Katniss lives in, it does a great job illuminating details one might otherwise miss while reading the books simply for entertainment.
I’ll get the bad out of the way first. At times I felt it was stretching to look for weathered injustices such as racism, sexism, and anti-gay elements in The Hunger Games series. Obviously there are injustices in the Panem, that is sort of the whole point. But with anything in life, if one is trying to look for inequality in every corner, a person will probably be able to find it… even if said prejudices are not really there. For example: the book delves into gender role reversal in an interesting way, yet over-simplifies it. Is there anyone who really thinks completely in black and white about male and female roles or traits anymore? Who does not know a man with a few feminine qualities, or likewise, a woman who is good at traditionally “male” skills?
Now the good: I never even thought about some of the fascinating elements that are scrutinized such as a compelling look at the strong possibility of Peeta and Prim being half-siblings. (Yeah, I know… say what?!) Annie Cresta’s character study was also intriguing and well-researched; and of course, the mapping of Panem is something fans will likely adore. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of the series, and yet in some ways, one of the most underdeveloped. It also sheds light on our current reality television in a way that most people are not currently aware of. You may have the general sense that reality TV is “garbage” or a guilty pleasure, but it gives hard information on the contracts that reality stars are required to sign, therefore revealing the darker side of our own current “reality” entertainment. It makes the reader think twice about what they chose to watch after reading the book.
Overall, it’s an informative and well-researched analysis of the world Collins created, and an exploration into some of the parallels between Panem and our current society. I give it a strong four out of five stars.
We want to know, which scenes do you most look forward to seeing in Catching Fire? According to Jennifer Lawrence, getting married is one of the most exciting prospects for the second installment of the franchise. Other buzzed about scenes include the infamous burn-away wedding dress, Peeta and katniss kissing in the arena, and the big explosion at the end. Then, of course, there is also Finnick in his scantly clad opening ceremony costume…
What do you look forward to seeing on film? What scenes do you feel are absolutely essential and must be brought to the screen?
Lionsgate has officially announced that Jena Malona will play Johanna Mason in the sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire. What do you think of this casting choice?
Santa Monica, CA, July 23, 2012- Lionsgate® and the filmmakers of THE HUNGER GAMES:CATCHING FIRE are pleased to announce that Jena Malone has been cast in the role of Johanna Mason in the much anticipated film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ worldwide smash hit novel Catching Fire. Johanna Mason is a female victor from a past Games still in her early twenties, and is one of the youngest, but also one of the most psychologically scarred Quarter Quell participants.
Malone recently starred opposite Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton in the History Channel’s Emmy® nominated mini-series Hatfields & McCoys. The mini-series broke cable records and is the new most-watched entertainment telecast of all time on cable. Her additional credits include Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, and Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. She will soon begin production on Lonely Hunter.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE will be directed by Francis Lawrence, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the second in a trilogy that has over 50 million copies in print in the U.S. alone.
Lionsgate will release THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE on November 22, 2013.
As a rising actress distinguished by her versatility and multidimensional roles, Jena Malone continues to evolve with each new project. Malone recently starred opposite Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton in the History Channel’s mini-series Hatfields & McCoys which is based on a true story, and chronicles the bloody hostilities between two clans that escalated to the point of near war between two states. Sony Pictures Television debuted the three part mini-series on May 28th, with the second and third parts airing on the History Channel May 29th and 30th, respectively. The mini-series broke cable records and become the new most-watched entertainment telecast of all time on cable. Malone will soon begin production on The Go Getters. The film is an LA noir thriller about a struggling actress (Malone) who gets caught up in a heist planned by two underworld brothers. Malone will next be seen in the independent feature In Our Nature opposite John Slattery and Zach Gilford about an estranged father and son who are forced to share a vacation home with their respective girlfriends after a scheduling mistake. The film premiered at SXSW as well as the Sarasota Film Festival and is scheduled to be released this fall. Malone is set to star in a web-based series directed by Ami Mann titled, Dakota. The series of webisodes is part of WIGS, a new YouTube channel that is producing high-end, original, scripted series about the lives of women from all walks of life. WIGS has also attracted the talents of Jennifer Garner, Alfred Molina, Stephen Moyer, Virginia Madsen, Julia Stiles, Maura Tierney, Michael C. Hall, and America Ferrera, who will all star in the various series which began airing this May. Later this year, Malone will be seen in The Wait, opposite Chloe Sevigny about two sisters who decide to keep their deceased mother in their home after being informed that she will come back to life, as well as the independent feature, For Ellen, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Malone is soon set to begin production on the highly anticipated film, Lonely Hunter. In this biopic, Malone will star in the title role as Carson McCullers’. Production on the film will commence this summer. In 2011, Malone starred in Zack Snyder’s, Sucker Punch, for Warner Bros. opposite Emily Browning and Abbie Cornish. In the action film, five young women use their imaginations to escape their bleak reality being held prisoner in a mental hospital. Previously, Malone starred in Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, Sean Penn’s Into the Wild, Anthony Minghella’s Cold Mountain, Brian Dannelly’s Saved! and Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice. As a young actress, Malone starred opposite Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon in Stepmom, the cult classic, Donnie Darko and her very first role in the independent film Bastard Out of Carolina which earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Debut Performance. Malone has guest starred on several television series including Law & Order and Chicago Hope, and her performance in the TV film Hope earned Malone a Golden Globe® nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV. Malone currently resides in Los Angeles.
UPDATE: Jena shared her excitement on Instagram-
Sources revealed to E! that the Oscar winner signed the deal just before the July 4th holiday.
Lionsgate has not yet officially confirmed the news, but an official announcement is expected within the next few days.
Plutarch Heavensee is the Head Gamemaker of the 75th Games after the exit of Seneca Crane at the end of The Hunger Games.
What do you think of this casting decision?
UPDATE: Lionsgate has confirmed the good news-
About the Character:
Plutarch is appointed Head Gamemaker for The Hunger Games following Seneca Crane.
Philip Seymour Hoffman:
Santa Monica, CA, July 9, 2012- Lionsgate® and the filmmakers of THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE are pleased to announce that Philip Seymour Hoffman has been cast in the role of Plutarch Heavensbee, Head Gamemaker for The Hunger Games, in the much anticipated film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ worldwide smash hit novel Catching Fire. The actor and filmmaker just wrapped a Broadway run as Willy Loman in the revival of “Death of a Salesman” for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. He will next be seen in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” and the indie film “A Late Quartet” alongside Catherine Keener and Christopher Walken. More recent films include “Moneyball,” “The Ides of March” and “Jack Goes Boating” which marked Hoffman’s feature directorial debut. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE will be directed by Francis Lawrence, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the second in a trilogy that has over 36 million copies in print in the U.S. alone. Lionsgate will release THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE on November 22, 2013.
Sad news for fans of Gary Ross’s vision of The Hunger Games: he will not return to direct Catching Fire.
Gary Ross released an official statement:
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.
I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.
I also cannot say enough about the people I worked with: Producer Nina Jacobson, a great collaborator and a true friend; the brilliant Suzanne Collins, who entrusted us with her most amazing and important story; the gifted and remarkable Jennifer Lawrence whose performance exceeded my wildest expectations, and the rest of the incredible cast, whom I am proud to call my friends.
To the fans I want to say thank you for your support your faith, your enthusiasm and your trust. Hard as this may be to understand I am trying to keep that trust with you. Thank you all. It’s been a wonderful experience.
Lionsgate said of his departure:
We’re very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.
Let the speculation begin: who would you like to see direct Catching Fire now that Gary Ross is officially leaving the project?