Casting for the most anticipated love triangle since Edward, Bella and Jacob is now complete. On Monday, Lionsgate announced that [article id="1661254"]Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth[/article] would star as Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne alongside [article id="1660152"]Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen[/article] in the big-screen adaptation of "The Hunger Games."
The news came on the heels of rumors that the two were front-runners among the pack of Hollywood's young men auditioning for the coveted roles. Yet, despite a bit of early warning, "Hunger Games" fans and experts alike were largely surprised by the casting news.
"I think we were a little bit shocked, especially when the rumors first broke last week that Josh and Liam were the front-runners," said Amanda Belcher of the Hob. "We hadn't really expected that out of all the people that were listed on the short list of people for both Peeta and Gale."
Fan reactions have ranged from pleased (@The SiennaSkye: "Josh Hutcherson was cast as Peeta Mellark!? YES! They picked a cutie!! (:") to outraged (@meggiedear: "Worst. Casting. News. Ever. [Especially 4 Gale]. R.I.P. Hunger Games movie"). Yet, Belcher said many initially wary fans have changed their tune since the news first sent the Internet ablaze.
"Surprisingly, I feel like when the official news got posted, they've come around a little bit," she said. "There's still quite a few who say, 'I'm not going to watch this movie. I'm so upset at this casting.' Then there's a lot of them that say, 'You know what? These aren't our first choices, and we don't really like them, but we're going to put our trust in Lionsgate.' "
One of the chief concerns among fans seems to be that Hutcherson and Hemsworth don't closely resemble the characters from the book — an issue that was also raised following Lawrence's casting.
"I have a hard time picturing Josh and Liam as Peeta and Gale, but I want to give them the benefit of the doubt," said "Hunger Games" Examiner Sara Gundell.
Mockingjay.net administrator Kimmy West said most fans stuck on the actors' looks will most likely get onboard once they see the stars' chemistry and performances for themselves.
"[The actors] have to prove to the fans that they're the good person for the role. Because the moment that people realize that these actors are perfect in the role, hopefully then all the fans will warm up to them and agree that they are good."
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