'The Hunger Games': Top 10 Moments Of 2012

From the film's release to 'Catching Fire' casting, we review the year in Panem.

The odds were ever in fans' favor as the big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' best-selling "Hunger Games" hit theaters on March 23, 2012. But Katniss and Peeta's struggle for survival — while of utmost importance — was hardly the only headline to grab the fandom's attention this year. From finally (finally!) casting Finnick to the start of "Catching Fire" production, 2012 saw many milestones for the series. And, of course, MTV News catalogued them all. Join us as we journey through the annals of Panem to recall 2012's top 10 "Hunger Games" moments.

Poster Posted

The New Year began with a blazing bit of marketing ephemera that made it all seem real — the theatrical one-sheet featuring a close-up shot of star Jennifer Lawrence taking aim with the tagline, "The world will be watching," emblazoned above. Boy, were we.

One Last Look

With less than two months until the theatrical release of "The Hunger Games," Lionsgate followed up the pretty poster with a final trailer to whet fans' already voracious appetites. The clip served up plenty of key moments, including Katniss gifting Prim the symbolic Mockingjay pin, the tribute's interview with Caesar Flickerman and her touching pre-Games exchange with stylist Cinna.

Taylor Swift Is "Safe & Sound"

Country cutie Taylor Swift evoked Katniss' dystopian district with eerie accuracy in the music video for her "Hunger Games" soundtrack song "Safe & Sound," which she debuted exclusively on MTV and gained her a Golden Globe nomination. "Having a music video with that much symbolism in it is something I'm not used to," Swift told MTV News. "Everyone who is a 'Hunger Games' fan knows what it means when there's fire in the trees and they know what it means for the house to be burnt and they know what it means for the 'Hunger Games' pin to be covered in rust and old. Everybody can take their own meaning away from it, but it all goes back to the symbolism of the book."

"Hunger Games" Lights Up Theaters

Katniss' long-awaited entrance into the arena arrived March 23, hitting the box-office bull's-eye straight on. The film reaped a record-setting $155 million in its first weekend, making it the fifth-biggest opening weekend on record. To date, the film has grossed an impressive $408 million domestically — something even President Snow couldn't frown at.

The Director Shuffle

With the runaway success of the series' initial installment, it seemed but a foregone conclusion that director Gary Ross would return to helm the sequel, "Catching Fire." But in April, the auteur announced that he would not be returning to Panem, sending many fans into a tumult. "Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct 'Catching Fire,' " Ross said in a statement. "As a writer and a director, I simply don't have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule." Francis Lawrence ("Water for Elephants," "I Am Legend") stepped in to fill the vacant director's chair for the remainder of the series.

MTV Movie Awards Magic

Much like that other YA adaptation before it, it looked as though "The Hunger Games" and the MTV Movie Awards were sort of smitten with each other this year. From lost "Hunger Games" audition tapes, to archery expert Lester Boonshaft's commentary to the film's four wins (including Best Female and Best Male Performances for Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson), it was "The Hunger Games"' night and we were just living in it.

"Fire" Frenzy

With a brand-new arena needing filled for the 75th annual Hunger Games, the casting craze hit a fever pitch over the summer, with particular attention paid to any and all speculation regarding beloved tributes Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason. In the end, "Snow White and the Huntsman" star Sam Claflin and "Sucker Punch" star Jena Malone were reaped for the Quarter Quell.

"Mockingjay" Morphs Into Two

It had been widely speculated that much like "Harry Potter" and "The Twilight Saga" before it, "The Hunger Games" trilogy would be adapted into four films. Lionsgate made it official in July, announcing that "Mockingjay" would be split, with "Part 1" swooping into theaters on November 21, 2014, followed by "Part 2" on November 20, 2015.

"Catching Fire" Ignites

With casting concluded, the production games began again on September 10, when "Catching Fire" officially began filming in Atlanta, Georgia. Shooting later moved to Hawaii to capture the tropical ambiance of the Quarter Quell's intricate new arena.

After a month on the "Catching Fire" set, we finally got a sneak peek of the stars in action (or, more accurately, walking around in costume) thanks to a few paparazzi shots. Not long after, fans' hunger was temporarily sated with snaps straight from Hawaii, where the tributes were (literally!) diving into the arena. "Catching Fire" will hit theaters November 22, 2013.