If any film caught Internet fire this year, it was most certainly the big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' young-adult novel "The Hunger Games." Though the film had been optioned by Lionsgate way back in 2009, 2011 was the year fans finally saw all the pieces come together, from casting the titular tournament's 24 tributes to a teaser tidbit and full-length trailer.
As such, MTV News is taking a look back at all things "Hunger Games" with a list of the franchise's best moments from 2011 (in chronological order). Let the Games begin!
X Marks the Release Date
The year began with a bang when Lionsgate announced in late January that "The Hunger Games" would swoop into theaters March 23, 2012. Lionsgate set that particular date in its crosshairs hoping to capitalize on spring breaks and Easter weekend for the (mostly) family-friendly release.
Jennifer Lawrence Is Katniss Everdeen
The Reaping then began in earnest, with seemingly every young Hollywood actress vying for the coveted role of District 12's female tribute. Would it be Hailee Steinfeld? Kaya Scodelario? Abigail Breslin? In the end, MTV News had the pleasure of revealing that then-20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, who nabbed an Oscar nomination for her work in 2010's "Winter's Bone," would enter the arena as the much-loved heroine.
But Who Will Play Peeta and Gale?
Similar speculation followed the casting of Katniss' two love interests — fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark and hunting buddy Gale Hawthorne. Nine young actors were reportedly in contention for one of the two roles, including "Weeds" star Hunter Parrish and "Wizards of Waverly Place" actor David Henrie, but, ultimately, Josh Hutcherson landed the role of Peeta while Liam Hemsworth won Gale.
First Look at Lawrence as Katniss
Salivating fans didn't have to wait too long for their first taste of Lawrence as Katniss, as she posed for the cover of Entertainment Weekly, flaunting the tribute's soon-to-be-iconic uniform. The styled snap quieted many critics who'd said the actress was too blond, too tall, too pretty or too whatever for the role.
Cinna Will Rock
There were no shortage of casting announcements in spring 2011, but none seemed to catch watchful fans off guard more than that of Lenny Kravitz landing the role of Katniss' stylist Cinna. But, really, it made a lot of sense, considering the musician's fondness for fashion. "I like clothes, and I like playing with clothes. Every now and again, you go south. It's all good. I enjoy fashion as an art," he told MTV News.
The Mockingjay Catches Fire
In a nifty bit of promotion, Lionsgate released the first "Hunger Games" poster in July, and it was literally on fire. Well, sorta. The one-sheet depicted Katniss' infamous talisman — a mockingjay pin — wreathed in glowing flames. The eye-catching motion poster definitely gave fans something to chew on while they waited for more first looks.
We Spy Two "Hunger Games" Hotties
Following in co-star Lawrence's footsteps, the men of "The Hunger Games" landed their own EW cover story, in which Hutcherson took the opportunity to quiet a few nagging concerns about his stature."Jennifer's not 2 feet taller than me!" he told the magazine. "If anything, maybe she's a half-inch taller."
November 2013 Is "Catching Fire"
We hadn't even seen a frame of the first film yet, yet Lionsgate announced a November 22, 2013, release date for the follow-up, "Catching Fire." With "The Twilight Saga" taking its final winter bow in 2012, it looks like "The Hunger Games" is poised to be the new holiday tentpole.
A Tasty Tease
All those cover images and promotional stills went only so far to sate fans' appetites. A cinematic preview was in order, and we at MTV were happy to deliver. During the closing moments of this year's Video Music Awards, viewers were treated to a 30-second sneak peek, following Katniss as she sprinted through the arena's blazing forest, with Gale's words of encouragement resounding in her ears. Sure, the bite was short, but it was still satisfying.
First Full-Length Trailer
Nearly three lean months followed before the first full-length trailer made its entrance into the arena. And boy, was it worth the wait. From the tearful reaping to the Games' taut opening moments, the clip was one of our top teases of the year, offering a promise of the big-screen awesomeness to follow.
What were your favorite "Hunger Games" moments this year? Sound off in the comments below and tweet me @hollywoodcrush with your thoughts and suggestions for future columns!
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