Starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, 21 Jump Street topped the North American box office on Friday, collecting an estimated $13.1 million, and is expected to top the weekend as well with approximately $35 million. The action-comedy's reign won't last very long, however, as opening next Friday is the much-anticipated The Hunger Games. Directed and co-written by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) the movie version of Suzanne Collins' bestselling dystopian novel is expected to fetch anywhere between $70-$100 million at the North American box office.
Needless to say, distributor Lionsgate is ardently hoping it'll have another Twilight Saga in its hands. In fact, the studio, which has recently merged with Twilight's Summit Entertainment, isn't taking any chances: fans (and non-fans alike) of the Kristen Stewart / Robert Pattinson / Taylor Lautner combo will get to see a teaser for the upcoming The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, the franchise's final installment.
The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence, who proved herself an interesting interview subject while chatting with Moviefone's Christopher Rosen. Curiously, the Oscar-nominated Lawrence (for Debra Granik's Winter's Bone) admits “there was hesitation, of course, over the size of it and what my life would be like if I were to say yes, but I slowly came around to the idea” of playing The Hunger Games' heroine Katniss Everdeen.
Lawrence also talks about The Hunger Games' message and states that her favorite book in the trilogy was “the third, because I feel like that's where she [Katniss] became Joan of Arc. That's where she really took up the responsibility of, 'This is what I've created.'"
As for the Hunger Games / Twilight comparisons, Lawrence says the following:
I don't really care! I mean, I get it: they're all beloved books and they're huge best-sellers, and they become a franchise. It's easy to compare them. I think I'm more relaxed about it because once you see the movie you know it's absolutely nothing like Twilight, or nothing like Harry Potter, except in size. I'm not worried about it. I like the Twilight movies.
More The Hunger Games / Twilight (and Harry Potter) comparisons are sure to follow in case Lionsgate decides to split the final book into two parts.
The Hunger Games screenplay adaptation was co-written by Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Shattered Glass / Breach's Billy Ray. In addition to Jennifer Lawrence, the adventure / sci-fier features The Expendables 2 / AWOL / The Last Song's Liam Hemsworth, The Kids Are All Right / Journey 2: The Mysterious Island's Josh Hutcherson, Movie 43 / Man on a Ledge's Elizabeth Banks, and Rampart / The People vs. Larry Flynt's Woody Harrelson.
Also: The Devil Wears Prada / The Lovely Bones / Gambit's Stanley Tucci, Salvation Boulevard / The Healer's Isabelle Fuhrman, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising / Race to Witch Mountain's Alexander Ludwig, Sitting Babies / Running Wild's Jack Quaid, MASH / Ordinary People's Donald Sutherland, American Beauty / Loveless / The Time Being's Wes Bentley, and Snow White and the Huntsman / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' Toby Jones.
Jennifer Lawrence / The Hunger Games photo: Murray Close / Lionsgate.
'The Hunger Games' vs. 'Twilight' movies
In other (somewhat marginally) Robert Pattinson news, The Hunger Games is “tracking” on a par with the Twilight movies, according to “a set of tracking numbers floating around Hollywood.” Who, where, what, when, how came up with those floating tracking numbers remains a mystery.
The source for the information above is a March 1 EW.com article, which adds that “some forecasts” predict The Hunger Games will open with $70-75 million at the domestic box office. In terms of ticket sales, that would place it slightly behind the first Twilight.
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and starring the then little-known Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson duo (and with Taylor Lautner in a small supporting role), Twilight opened with $69.6 million in fall 2008 – or approx. $77 million today.
Also worth noting, a week ago Fandango reported that The Hunger Games generated 83 percent of the site's sales on Feb. 22, the day tickets for the movie became available – thus breaking the previous record held by David Slade's The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in May 2010.
Happy author Suzanne Collins
As part of the Hunger Games publicity blitz, the film's Facebook page has posted a letter from author and co-screenwriter Suzanne Collins in which she claims to be “really happy” with the movie adaptation of her dystopian sci-fi/adventure novel. See below:
I've just had the opportunity to see the finished film of The Hunger Games. I'm really happy with how it turned out. I feel like the book and the film are individual yet complementary pieces that enhance one another. The film opens up the world beyond Katniss' point of view, allowing the audience access to the happenings of places like the Hunger Games control room and President Snow's rose garden, thereby adding a new dimension to the story.
Director Gary Ross has created an adaptation that is faithful in both narrative and theme, but he's also brought a rich and powerful vision of Panem, its brutality and excesses, to the film as well. His world building's fantastic, whether it be the Seam or the Capitol. It's amazing to see things that are suggested in the book fully developed and so brilliantly realized through the artistry of the designers.
And, my God, the actors. The cast, led by the extraordinary Jennifer Lawrence, is absolutely wonderful across the board. It's such a pleasure to see how they've embodied the characters and brought them to life.
So I'd like to sincerely thank all the many people who devoted their time and talents to the film, especially producers Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik, and the excellent teams at Color Force, Larger Than Life, and Lionsgate.
'The Hunger Games' cast
- Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island).
- Liam Hemsworth (The Expendables 2, AWOL, The Last Song).
- Elizabeth Banks (Movie 43, Man on a Ledge).
- Woody Harrelson (Rampart, The People vs. Larry Flynt).
- Isabelle Fuhrman (Salvation Boulevard, The Healer).
- Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada, The Lovely Bones).
- Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Four Feathers).
- Donald Sutherland (MASH, Ordinary People).
- Toby Jones (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Girl).
- Lenny Kravitz (Precious).
Lionsgate – which, coincidentally, recently acquired/merged with Twilight distributor Summit Entertainment – will release The Hunger Games on March 23, '12.
Jennifer Lawrence The Hunger Games image: Murray Close / Lionsgate.
Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games
Below is another The Hunger Games clip, this one featuring the first meeting between Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). The first thing I noticed about this brief scene is that there's a video quality to it that I found jarring. Also, I found it hard to understand why Gary Ross and/or editors Stephen Mirrione and Juliette Welfling kept cutting it from different angles. Those edits didn't add to the emotional undercurrent of the Katniss-Cinna chat, nor did they make Jennifer Lawrence's and Lenny Kravitz's performances any more effective.
Anyhow, people surely aren't going to buy tickets to The Hunger Games to listen to the various characters talk. They'll be looking for action and cool visuals. Director Ross and his team should be able to provide that.
In addition to Kravitz and Lawrence, a 2010 Best Actress Academy Award nominee for Debra Granik's Winter's Bone, The Hunger Games also features The Kids Are All Right / Journey 2: The Mysterious Island's Josh Hutcherson, Movie 43 / Man on a Ledge's Elizabeth Banks, Rampart / The People vs. Larry Flynt's Woody Harrelson, The Expendables 2 / AWOL / The Last Song's Liam Hemsworth, and Salvation Boulevard / The Healer's Isabelle Fuhrman. Also in the cast: American Beauty's Wes Bentley, The Devil Wears Prada's Stanley Tucci, MASH / Ordinary People's Donald Sutherland, and Snow White and the Huntsman / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' Toby Jones.
Gary Ross' two previous efforts as a feature-film director were Best Picture (but not Best Director) Oscar nominee Seabiscuit (2003) and Pleasantville (1998), both starring Tobey Maguire. Lionsgate will release The Hunger Games on March 23.
Jennifer Lawrence / Liam Hemsworth / The Hunger Games photo: Murray Close / Lionsgate.
The Hunger Games: Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane
Below is the latest The Hunger Games clip, this one featuring two characters not seen in previous scenes from the upcoming Lionsgate release: President Snow (MASH / Ordinary People's Donald Sutherland) and Seneca Crane (American Beauty's West Bentley).
The brief dialogue focuses on hope vs. fear. “Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear,” President Snow (check out Sutherland's shining-white beard). “A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it is contained.”
Since I haven't read Suzanne Collins' novels (told from Katniss' point of view) or watched Gary Ross' movie, I'm not sure exactly what they're referring to here. President Snow wants Seneca to “contain” hope. Whose? One of the fighters who must fight to the death for the entertainment of Panem's bloodthirsty Capitol members, surely. Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen? Possibly. Perhaps too much hope means not only the belief in winning the fight but also in achieving everlasting freedom and/or chopping off the heads (and beards) of the Capitol crowd?
In addition to Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games features The Expendables 2 / AWOL / The Last Song's Liam Hemsworth, The Kids Are All Right / Journey 2: The Mysterious Island's Josh Hutcherson, Movie 43 / Man on a Ledge's Elizabeth Banks, Rampart / The People vs. Larry Flynt's Woody Harrelson, The Devil Wears Prada's Stanley Tucci, Salvation Boulevard / The Healer's Isabelle Fuhrman, and Snow White and the Huntsman / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' Toby Jones.
The Hunger Games director Gary Ross' two previous features were Best Picture Oscar nominee Seabiscuit (2003) and Pleasantville (1998), both starring Tobey Maguire. The Hunger Games comes out on March 23. Preceding the film will be the teaser for the Kristen Stewart / Robert Pattinson / Taylor Lautner fall entry The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, directed by Bill Condon.
The Hunger Games photo: Murray Close / Lionsgate.
The Hunger Games clip via The Hollywood Reporter.
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Lenny Kravitz, The Hunger Games
Stanley Tucci isn't exactly the most subtle of actors and Josh Hutcherson looks better as a brunet than as a blond, but those minor details probably won't matter to The Hunger Games fans. I haven't read Suzanne Collins' book(s), so I don't know exactly what's going on here, except for the obvious: Stanley Tucci's Caesar is a jerk talk-show host. Josh Hutcherson's Peeta pines for Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen, who wasn't fully aware of his love until she saw it on TV. Just like people today who find love and missing relatives on Oprah or some such. (Sorry, the clip has been deleted.)
And that means the future will look very much like the present – scary thought – but with (one hopes) the dull moments (and the commercials) taken out.
In addition to Lawrence, Tucci, and Hutcherson, The Hunger Games also features Movie 43 / Man on a Ledge's Elizabeth Banks, Rampart / The People vs. Larry Flynt's Woody Harrelson (who can also be seen in the clip below), The Expendables 2 / AWOL / The Last Song's Liam Hemsworth, and Salvation Boulevard / The Healer's Isabelle Fuhrman. Also in the cast: American Beauty's Wes Bentley, MASH / Ordinary People's Donald Sutherland, and Snow White and the Huntsman / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' Toby Jones.
The Hunger Games director Gary Ross' two previous feature films were Best Picture (but not Best Director) Oscar nominee Seabiscuit (2003) and Pleasantville (1998), both starring Tobey Maguire. Lionsgate will release The Hunger Games on March 23.
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Lenny Kravitz / The Hunger Games photo: Murray Close / Lionsgate.