'Hunger Games' Release Date Announced!

With all the excitement surrounding the 2011 Academy Award Nominations this morning, as well as nominee reactions, exclamations of joy, disbelief, etc. who would have thought that we would have some official "Hunger Games" news break today? We didn't.

But lo and behold! Lionsgate has announced the official release date for the highly anticipated film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, who landed the scoop, "The Hunger Games" will descend upon theaters on March 23, 2012.

The Reporter noted that Lionsgate hopes to capitalize on the Easter holiday weekend (Easter falls on April 8, 2012) and the fact that the end of March coincides with a lot of school spring breaks. So far, the big screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' beloved book is the only film slated to open that weekend, but we can expect others to pile on.

Other interesting facts gleaned from the story are the impressive publishing numbers associated with “Games.“ I mean, we know they’re amazing, but that doesn’t always mean that the rest of the world is as with it as Hollywood Crush, right?

Anyway, according to powerhouse publisher Scholastic, there are more than 3.3 million copies of the post-apocalyptic thriller in print in the U.S. alone, while foreign rights have been sold in 41 countries. Those figures will only go up as more people discover and become obsessed with Suzanne’s captivating trilogy.

So next up is casting the film! Now that we’ve got a firm release date, that can only mean that director Gary Ross and Co. have to be close to announcing the lucky young lady who will step into the hard-to-fill shoes of Katniss Everdeen, as well as the coveted roles of Gale Hawthorne and Peeta Mellark.

Who will it be?