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Lately there've been a ton of tasty news bites coming out of the world of "The Hunger Games." From "Catching Fire" pre-production to the cast scooping up some surfboards and "Mockingjay" being split into two, there's a lot to chew on here. So, grab a fork and get ready to eat it all up!
Ready to Catch Fire?
Production on "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is nigh! Rumor has it, Atlanta's gonna be one of the filming hotspots this go-round, with shooting tentatively scheduled for Sept. 10, and word is, the filmmakers are also scouting out spots in Hawaii for the big arena sequences.
But enough about that. What's really been exciting is that casting news has been whizzing around as quickly as one of Katniss' arrows. This week, Lionsgate confirmed Jena Malone has been plucked for the sassy tribute role of Johanna Mason.
Oh, and at long last, we may finally have our Finnick Odair, citizens! "Snow White and the Huntsman" prince Sam Claflin is the rumored choice for the blonde tribute adonis, and while reactions have been split on that, a little hair dye might just do the trick.
Plus, Amanda Plummer'll be the certifiable Wiress, joining ranks with the inconquerable Phillip Seymour Hoffman who'll give life to the mysterious new head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. Before we know it, the entire line-up for the Third Quarter Quell - also known as the 75th Annual Hunger Games - will be ready!
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In less than a month, we'll all be lining up at our local retailers before midnight, causing major eye-rollage for the uninitiated (if there is such a thing) store clerks who have to stay late, and just clamoring to get our paws on "The Hunger Games" on DVD. Sadly, there won't be any deleted scenes to gobble down, but there will be some sweet special features. Go ahead and clear some space on the shelf now! You may also want to make room for Katniss Barbie, who's coming along soon after.
Until then, though, the view of Panem's becoming a little bit clearer. Thanks to Facebook's "The Hunger Games Adventures" game, an official district by district map of Panem is finally taking shape! ID-ed so far are The Capitol, District 2, District 11, and the place we've all been in mind and spirit, District 12.
Lionsgate's put a tight time crunch on itself now that it's scheduled the release for both "Mockingjay" installments with back-to-back Novembers in 2014 and 2015. Looks like they're planning to pull a "Twilight" and switch up the directors once again for films three and four — sorry, Francis Lawrence — and they're already sniffing around for potential candidates. No word yet on whether they'll film both finale installments at once or whether they'll be two properly separate films. Shoot, we don't even know where they'll split the things, though we do have a few suspicions.
What's Up With the Cast
As expected, several tributes from "The Hunger Games" made way to San Diego earlier this month for Comic-Con, but they kept it coy (much to our dismay) on the deets.
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Sure, Jennifer Lawrence was spotted saving the day in late June, and our minds were blown by the first trailer for her newest flick "Silver Linings Playbook," but our gal's been keeping it low key so far this summer ... We're guessing she's probably not spending her off-time dreaming up that "Natural Born Killers" slash "Thelma and Louise" mash-up Lindsay Lohan randomly announced she wants to do with her.
And while we didn't spy him around SDCC in a Batman costume (shucks), Josh Hutcherson did make it out to this weekend's Teen Choice Awards to collect the cast's surfboard wins (including his own Choice Movie Actor: Sci-fi/Fantasy win along with Lawrence's Choice Movie Actress, their shared Choice Liplock prize, Choice Book for Suzanne Collins, Liam Hemsworth's Choice Movie Scene Stealer: Male and Alexander Ludwig's Choice Villain grab).
Speaking of awards, two "Hunger Games" stars have now been nominated for some Primetime Emmys! Elizabeth Banks — the one and only Effie Trinket — got a nom for her recurring guest role as Avery Jessup for NBC's "30 Rock." Meanwhile, Woody Harrelson is up for the lead actor in a mini-series prize for his work on HBO's "Game Change." This is Banks' second for the same show, and it's Harrelson's seventh Emmy nomination overall (albeit his first in more than a decade). As Effie might say, it's a "big, big, big" deal!
Books Still Making Bank
Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" book trilogy was obviously successful long before the first film ever came into being, but the publishers have openly admitted to seeing an increase in sales thanks to the magic of movies. In fact, their latest calculations indicate that there are more than 50 million print and digital copies of the three books in U.S. circulation alone. "The World Will Be Watching," sure. But from that stat, it seems the world is definitely reading too.
Amanda Bell is a young adult book-to-film enthusiast and has made a name for herself as a fan-friendly, informative and dependable source. In addition to being the District 14 columnist for NextMovie, she runs the popular Twilight Examiner column. Keep tabs on her on Twitter.