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« Remembering 5 Years of The Hunger Games - YA Novel to Worldwide Phenomenon | Main | The Hunger Games Exhibition Announces Next Stop in Louisville, KY »
Thursday
Mar232017

Remembering 5 Years of The Hunger Games - Casting Katniss

Can you believe it’s been five years since The Hunger Games opened in movie theaters in North America?! To mark this special occasion, we've got a couple of great guest posts from some of our fellow fan site favorites. This post from Amanda at The Hob (we miss you guys!) is a little walk down memory lane during the casting of the now iconic character, Katniss Everdeen.




For me, one of the most exciting milestones in the development of a book-to-movie adaptation is the casting of characters who had previously only existed in fans’ heads. This has the opportunity to make (think: Divergent) or break (think: The Mortal Instruments) an adaptation, especially in the YA realm. As part of The Hob fansite, I was acutely tuned into every twist and turn in the casting of The Hunger Games.

When some friends and I started The Hob in September 2010 (a month after Mockingjay was released), our first post was a summary of everything there was to know about the status of The Hunger Games movie at that point … not that there was a lot to report. It basically boiled down to three things: 

 
1) Lionsgate had acquired the worldwide distribution rights to the series

 
2) There was a screenplay from Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray

 
3) Gary Ross was the frontrunner to direct (he was officially announced a month later). 

 
That’s it. No release date. No filming locations or schedule. And definitely no actors.

 
Not that that stopped the rampant casting rumors and fan casting discussions. But you couldn’t blame anyone for filling the white space with dream casting debates and polls – that’s what fans do with their favorite books: We imagine the perfect actor or actress to bring our beloved characters to life. I still remember the first time Jennifer Lawrence’s name was mentioned as a dream casting for Katniss. I looked at the picture of her from Winters Bone and thought “I have no idea who she is, but that’s my Katniss.”

 
But Jennifer Lawrence certainly wasn’t the only name in the running. In fact, it may be hard to believe now, but her name was barely a part of the discussion until the final weeks leading up to the casting announcement in March 2011. Instead, every young actress on the planet was publicly campaigning to take on the coveted role of Katniss and threw her hat in the ring at every media opportunity (“I love the books! I relate to Katniss! I’ve read the script! I’ve met with producers!”) – not that anyone can blame them. There was a list upwards of 30 actresses who were being considered for the role, including Hailee Steinfeld, Lyndsy Fonseca, Abigail Breslin and Saoirse Ronan.

 
But that all came to a halt when – in a fortuitous moment caught on video – Jennifer’s mom let the cat out of the bag on the Oscar’s red carpet. 

 

Two weeks later Lionsgate officially announced Jennifer would be Katniss, followed by a surge of additional casting news and months of filming.

First look at Jen as Katniss in Entertainment Weekly May 2011
Some of the first stills released


The cast in the Dec 2011 issue of Vanity Fair 
 
With each early look at the film – either through official images released by Lionsgate or cell phone pics emailed to us by fans who came across the set – I became more and more excited and confident that the team at Lionsgate was working its butt off to get this movie right for the fans. (This devotion extended to the Hunger Games DVD as well, which they were working on long before the film even hit theaters in order to give the fans something special! In November 2011, Lionsgate interviewed me – along with a couple of others from The Hob – about the fandom and love for the trilogy. Talk about one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of!)

 
By the time The Hunger Games was released in March 2012, we’d been through rounds of leaked images, trailer rumors, rating debates and everything else that is likely with a series of this magnitude. The fandom’s expectations were sky high, and nerves were on edge to see if Lionsgate could pull off the movie that this amazing book so very much deserved … or if the movie would be a disappointing beginning (and perhaps an untimely end) to the movie series.

 
But as we all know, those expectations were met – and exceeded.


 
For more Hunger Games memories, read "YA Novel to Worldwide Phenomenon," an awesome guest post by Courtney of Welcome To District 12 on the early days of the fandom. 
And tune in to the HG Fireside Chat reunion show Monday, March 27th at 9pm ET/6pm PT!

 

 

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