Earning $19.8 million at midnight screenings and predictions of a $125 million weekend for "The Hunger Games" have essentially secured a future for the franchise, so now one of the more interesting questions coming out of the opening is: What does this mean for Jennifer Lawrence?
As the star of "The Hunger Games," Lawrence will inevitably be one of the people given credit for its huge success and, from there, move into the realm of "bankable" actresses. While headlining a huge blockbuster certainly helps bolster an actress' career prospects and offers for future projects, it will be Lawrence's incredible performance as Katniss Everdeen that secures her new status as a Hollywood A-lister and bona fide star.
With the now-guaranteed success of "The Hunger Games" under her belt, Lawrence's next project choices are going to be the ones that decide what kind of star she is, according to David Poland of Movie City News.
"She is going to be on top of the celebrity charts for a few years now, but it's easy to piss that away with a few bad choices," he said. "My sense is that she wants to be stimulated and not just take the money and run. So she could end up getting dozens of low-budget, high-quality films made or do 'one for them, one for me' or try to be the first Bond villainess. Doors are open. But she's young, and her identity is still forming."
Beginning that identity formation with "The Hunger Games" is a pretty solid start. Who didn't get goose bumps during the trailer when Lawrence broke away from the crowd at the Reaping to volunteer herself for the Games? "I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute." It's an incredibly memorable moment, and its resonance stems directly from how emotionally believable Lawrence is. For as contentious as her casting was, Lawrence silenced critics with two sentences.
At its core, "The Hunger Games" is a crowd-pleaser. It follows a strong female character, is full of action and arguably ends with the best possible outcome. There's a reason so many people of different demographics love it. As the hero of the story, Lawrence automatically becomes the person people associate the quality of the film with, and there's a good reason for that.
It's important to remember that when we're talking about Jennifer Lawrence, we're talking about "Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence," an honor she earned for a brutal role in "Winter's Bone."
There was never a question that Lawrence could act, and in the actual film of "The Hunger Games," she grounds a fantastical premise with a relatable and deeply realistic performance that goes beyond the usual requirements of a tentpole movie. Even though we're barely three months into 2012, based solely on the quality of her performance, Oscar consideration for Lawrence isn't entirely out of the question: She's that good.
With "The Hunger Games," Jennifer Lawrence has left behind the realm of "indie cred" and has entered rarified air: a highly bankable, capital A actor.
Check out everything we've got on "The Hunger Games."
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