Let The Games Begin!

If you looked on Tumblr, there is enough buzz to suggest most of the world has seen The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. While the movie opens officially tomorrow, many theaters are running 8PM showings tonight along with midnight screenings. The Wrap reports tracking data shows on opening somewhere between $160 million and $172 million.

Just like there is a complicated formula to determine opening weekend tallies, there are many factors all weighing into the calculus that makes the franchise a huge success. The most important part of the equation comes down to three things: worldbuilding, characters and timely storytelling. While The Hunger Games has stellar characters in Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch, Catching Fire fleshes them out and introduces a whole new cast. And no one is exactly who they seem to be. Lev Grossman interviewed director Francis Lawrence and author Suzanne Collins for Time Entertainment. Grossman’s two favorite characters are many fans’ favorite characters: Finnick and Johanna. In fact, the casting of those two characters earned its own speculation thread at my fan community last year.

My two favorite characters from the series make their debuts in Catching Fire: Finnick and Johanna.  Tell me about them—they’re so complex, so right on the edge between unspeakably awful and incredibly appealing.

SC: They’re two of my favorite characters too.  Finnick and Johanna are people who have now lived the victor life.  They haven’t only gone through the horrors of the Hunger Games, they came out on the other side of it, which was supposed to be a life of luxury and pleasure for the rest of your life, and found out it was anything but. They’ve been prostituted by the Capitol.  If they try and resist in any manner, they’re punished by people they love being killed or tormented in some way.  So they’ve both developed these kind of personas which are their Capitol personas, which is all Katniss has ever seen of them.  But of course underneath – they’re sort of onion characters, and as you peel back the layers you find more and more about what they’ve experienced. Haymitch is another one – all of the victor tributes are, really.

What was the casting process like? How did you find your Finnick and your Johanna?
FL: We saw loads of people for both.  It was a really tricky casting process, but Sam, who plays Finnick – he was one of the first people I saw.  And we kept seeing more and more and more people, and I ended up choosing Sam in the end more for what we know about Finnick as the story progresses rather than just what we think of him in that first scene.  Sam can be very charming and very flirtatious and he’s handsome and in great shape, so I knew he could do that.  But what I really liked was the real emotional side of him.

SC: They had him read both scenes – scenes from the entrance and scenes later when he’s broken down.

FL: Exactly.  And then I was seeing a bunch of girls for Johanna, and there was a bunch of these girls who were just coming in and acting bitchy.  And I didn’t buy them.  Johanna is supposed to be, or feel, a bit unhinged and unpredictable.  You can’t really act that; you kind of have to just be it. I knew Jena Malone was coming in and I knew some of her work before, though I never met her.  She walked into the room in character.  Her eyes were red, she was mad about something – I mean, she intimidated me when she walked into the room.  And then she did the scenes and it was unbelievable.  She just owned the character in a way that nobody else had come close to.  And she got the role really pretty quickly after that.

Sam Claflin and Jena Malone talked to Epix about playing the iconic characters.

If you’re still on the fence about the franchise, here’s former fence-sitter Jordan Hoffman’s thoughts at ScreenCrush:

When the closing credits rolled after the original ‘The Hunger Games,’ I thought to myself “eh, not bad.” But I was in no rush to see the follow-up. When the closing credits rolled after Francis Lawrence’s ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,’ after I was able to collect myself, I was fully prepared to run out and get a mockingjay tattoo. Over my heart. With the phrase, “I will lay down my life for you, Katniss Everdeen, because you are the first and finest true hero of 21st century cinema.”

Okay, that may be getting a little carried away (and by the time I exited the theater I had calmed down a bit) but let’s just say now I get it. I see why people are bananas for this franchise.

So, who is going to see Catching Fire this weekend?

For all things Hunger Games, I highly recommend the fansite The Hob. These ladies aren’t in it for the money, just the love, and it shows.

Top image credit: The Hunger Games Facebook Page.

Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and strong female characters. She also writes about Star Wars for Random House’s science fiction and fantasy blog Suvudu.com and Star Wars Insider magazine and is a contributor for Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Assembly of Geeks and RebelForce Radio Presents Fangirls Going Rogue.

Tricia is putting the finishing touches on her first novel, Wynde – a military science fiction with a fantastical twist that features heroines Vespa and Gemini. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.

For updates on all things FANgirl follow @FANgirlcantina on Twitter or like FANgirl Zone on Facebook. At times she tries the Tumblr.



Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and the intersection of women within Star Wars fandom. She is co-author of Ultimate Star Wars and Star Wars Visual Encyclopedia from DK Publishing, a featured writer for Star Wars Insider magazine with numerous articles on the Hero's Journey. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Hyperspace Theories and Fangirls Going Rogue. Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.