It’s difficult to pinpoint where The Hunger Games got it so perfectly right. Could it be the inspired choice of Jennifer Lawrence to become the face of Katniss, or is it simply the sheer popularity of the books that preceded the films? Surely some of the credit has to go to Francis Lawrence for outdoing Gary Ross’s impressive initial effort.
Katniss (Lawrence) and Peeta (Hutchinson) in 'Catching Fire'
Whatever the reason, it was easy to see just how far the franchise has come in London on Monday (Nov, 11) when the stars graced the red carpet for the film’s premiere. Since the first film, which was a commercial and critical success, Jennifer Lawrence has gone from talented youngster to global superstar. Her Oscar win for Silver Linings Playbook was unexpected, but the general consensus was that it was no more than she deserved.
What have the critics been saying about Catching Fire?
But while Lawrence is a pretty - and more importantly marketable – face for the franchise, there’s more to the continued success of the literary adaptation. And director Francis Lawrence is deserved of the plaudits that have flown his way of late.
Portraying a society in which teenagers fight to the death on TV, while making sure the film passes the ratings board without alienating the core demographic (young teenagers) is no mean feat, but he managed to balance the core of the book while pleasing those in charge of censorship.
Watch the Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer
"We didn't have too many issues with the ratings board," Lawrence told the BBC. "We had to go back and we cut a couple frames, adjusted some volume, took a little bit of blood out, but it was very little that we had to do."
In America, the film was handed a PG-13 rating.
"We always aim in America for the PG-13," added the director, who also helmed Water for Elephants and I Am Legend. "You're always aware of those guidelines so whenever you get into a scene or sequence that could be tricky, you try and stay vigilant, you try and shoot some options, have an idea ahead of time so you don't get stuck."
With 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, Lawrence (Francis, as well as Jennifer) has outgunned his Games predecessor Ross, who managed to accumulate a (still impressive) 84%.
Hemsworth is Gale Hawthorne once again
Now all that’s left to do is match the $691m raked in by the first film in the global box office market. It’ll start that difficult but achievable task on November 15th when it comes out in Brazil. The U.K get their Hunger Games quenched on November 21st, with the film arriving on U.S shores a day later.
Next page: see photos from the Hunger Games Premiere in London.