Happy "Hunger Games" release day! What a long, bleak and dystopian road it has been so far.
We've been waiting for this day so long and with so much hope and hype that it feels like we've been through the Reaping ourselves. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we have compiled a cheat sheet of everything you need to know about the big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' beloved best-selling novel.
Back in spring 2009, just several months after the book's well-received publication, Lionsgate won a bidding war for the rights to translate the gripping tale from page to screen. The next big question was, of course, who would be chosen to portray the impoverished "girl on fire" fighting for survival in a seemingly unjustly ruled society?
The highly publicized search for the perfect Katniss Everdeen featured a healthy list of young A-list actresses vying for the role, including Chloe Grace Moretz, Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld, all of whom were admitted fans . Finally, in May of last year, the suspense ended with the announcement that "Winter's Bone" star and Oscar nominee [article id="1660152"]Jennifer Lawrence[/article] had won the role.
The rest of the "Games" puzzle pieces fell quickly in place, with "Pleasantville" helmer Gary Ross in the director's chair, who reportedly beat out David Slade ("Eclipse") and Sam Mendes ("Revolutionary Road"), and rising stars Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson claiming the roles of Katniss' best friend Gale Hawthorne and the dependable "boy with the bread" Peeta Mallark. Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz and Wes Bentley would all later join the cast in the film's key supporting roles of [article id="1662890"]escort Effie Trinket[/article], mentor Haymitch Abernathy, District 12 stylist Cinna and Seneca Crane, respectively.
The Production Games
Once the film's March 23, 2012 release date was announced, production shifted into high gear in the forests of North Carolina. In spring 2011, we got our official [article id="1664124"]first look at Lawrence[/article] in character, followed thereafter by glimpses of Hutcherson and Hemsworth. And although the matter of making the film was serious business, we later discovered that the castmembers had lots of fun on set, particularly Hutcherson, who told us the humorous tale of his successful, but sneaky, practical joke he played on Lawrence. After that, we were very happy to treat fans to MTV's exclusive first look at footage of [article id="1669848"]Katniss in action during the VMAs[/article].
The Fan Fervor and Whirlwind Promotional Tour
Once production wrapped, we did our best to track down the stars for their thoughts about their roles and the filmmaking process. Lawrence told us all about her training regimen and admitted that all her hours spent with an archery coach were "really fun." Hutcherson shared his perspective on the intense audition process and how he felt he is[article id="1674101"]"so right" for the role[/article].
These little teases and [article id="1677567"]costume reveals[/article] were enough to tide us over until we scored multiple sit-down interviews with the castmembers and the mall tours began, all leading up to the [article id="1680979"]star-studded Hollywood premiere[/article], for which we provided in-depth coverage via our live stream.
With early ticket sales breaking records and[article id="1680232"]box-office predictions very high[/article], all that's left to do is wait and watch as the engrossing story of Katniss and company continues to catch fire.
Check out everything we've got on "The Hunger Games."
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