Hot Catching Fire Photos

I know there is more to science fiction and fantasy than DOCTOR WHO, so let’s spend today looking over some interesting photos from the Hawaiian set where they are filming the forthcoming movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Here we have a bunch of images of Jennifer Lawrence as Hotness Katniss Everdeen, Sam Claflin as Finnick and Lynn Cohan as Maggs. As you can see, some shots are from the beginning of the Quarter Quell, and some appear to be later action. Check out Maggs with Finnick’s trident and Finnick with Katniss’ bow!

I really like the design of the combat suits; I think they’re better than the costumes in The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens Nov. 22, 2013.

Catching Fire Casting Catching Fire

The new hires are coming fast and furious now, with only weeks to go before The Hunger Games: Catching Fire goes before the cameras. The latest additions include the District 2 victors and District 12’s sadistic new Peacekeeper.

Former CRIMINAL MINDS and LOVING actress Meta Golding has been cast as Enobaria, the District 2 Victor with the vicious choppers, while Bruno Gunn (SONS OF ANARCHY) will play the role of badass District 2 veteran Brutus. Judge Dredd-wannabe Romulus Thread will be played by Patrick St. Esprit (also from SONS OF ANARCHY).

It seems the only sticky wicket remaining is casting Finnick Odair, the charismatic winner from District 4.
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Battle Royale — the TV Series?

Adapting the 2000 Japanese cult movie Battle Royale into a one-hour weekly drama series for broadcast on American television channel The CW sounds like a great idea! For about 8 seconds. Then, one realizes that the series would have to be so bowdlerized that it would barely resemble its progenitor, so why bother?

Kinji Fukasaku’s superbly brutal, highly polarizing movie (based on Koushun Takami’s 1999 novel) about Japanese school children pitted against one another in a fight to the death would be perfect for HBO or Showtime — premium cable networks that have the creative latitude to depict the ultraviolence necessary — not needed, necessary — to maintain the original Battle Royale’s satire and social commentary.
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Mockingjay Gets Chopped in Two

What we have all feared has come to pass: In a shameless, cynical money-grab, Lionsgate has announced that Mockingjay, the third novel in Suzanne Collins’ acclaimed YA trilogy, will be split into two movies, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One slated for release on Nov. 21, 2014, and Part Two penciled in for Nov. 20, 2015.

After all, the Harry Potter series and Twilight both split their final books, so in the monkey-see, monkey-do world of Hollywood, The Hunger Games has to do it, too. If nothing else, the producers probably feel they’ll get a good opening-weekend gross from Part Two.
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Francis Lawrence Will Direct Catching Fire

Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend and Constantine) has chosen to direct Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. Reportedly, the competition came down to Lawrence and Moneyball’s Bennett Miller, but Miller didn’t like the rushed production schedule needed to meet the studio’s already-announced release date of Nov. 22, 2013. (Let’s hope that’s not wishful thinking.)

Lawrence is an interesting choice. I think of him more as a visual stylist coming off Constantine, but he did handle a pretty sprawling story in Will Smith’s I Am Legend. Both of those films were fantasy/sci-fi projects, and both were adaptations of existing material – Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend novel, and Constantine is the star of the comic book series Hellblazer – so he has experience translating stories. (For what it’s worth, Moneyball was a book, too, so that’s probably why Miller was a front-runner.) Also, Lawrence built a compelling and complicated world overrun by mutations for I Am Legend, and world-building was Hunger Games helmer Gary Ross’ Achilles’ heel.
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Gary Ross Is Officially Off Catching Fire

I’ve written about this already, but now it’s official: Both Gary Ross and Lionsgate have confirmed that the Hunger Games director will not be returning to helm the first sequel, Catching Fire. You can jump here to see how I feel about his work on The Hunger Games.

Ross’ full statement was released by the studio:

“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.”

Hmmm, Ross makes it sound like the real reason he left is because he didn’t want production to be rushed to meet the studio’s previously announced release date, Nov. 22, 2013.

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Gary Ross Not Directing Catching Fire!

Well, I was hoping this would happen, and it has. Lionsgate could not come to a deal with Hunger Games director Gary Ross to helm the first sequel, Catching Fire, so Ross has walked away.

Supposedly, Ross wasn’t all that interested in the job anyway, and the salary Lionsgate dangled wasn’t enough to change his mind and compel him to film another blockbuster. Sigh.

Isn’t that Aesop’s definition of sour grapes?
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Will Gary Ross Be the Next Causality of Hunger Games?

While I really enjoyed The Hunger Games movie adaptation, I was not enamored of the film’s direction, and despaired at the thought of Gary Ross helming the next three sequels. (Yes, the cynical and truly bad idea of splitting the last book, Mockingjay, into two movies in order to cash in one more time is still alive.)

In Hollywood, money is the only language anyone understands, and with HG raked in so much at the box office, I figured there odds would ever be not in my favor, because it looked like there was no way to get Ross off the franchise.

But yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter brought this happy news, like a parachute from a wealthy Hunger Games sponsor: Ross is apparently holding out for more money to direct the first sequel, Catching Fire. And I couldn’t be happier about his disenchantment!
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The Hunger Games: Hints for Parents

I have been asked several times whether The Hunger Games is “okay” for children to watch. Well, that depends on your kid. I agree with the film’s official PG-13 rating, that it will be fine for teenagers. However, younger kids may be disturbed by some of the themes and images. I recommend seeing the movie with your child, not merely dropping him/her off at the theater.

Here, I will tell parents about the most objectionable stuff, in an effort to give you an idea what’s on the screen. This is spoilerish stuff, but I’m assuming parents would prefer to know what’s coming rather than being surprised right along with the little ones.

(Click here for my review of the movie.)
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