Ten years ago Wednesday, Lionsgate released The Hunger Games, the adaptation of author Susan Collins‘ 2008 bestselling dystopian novel.
Co-written by Collins, Billy Ray, and director Gary Ross, the film centered on a life-or-death annual competition in which powerless young people are forced to compete to the death, to the delight of the elites in Panem’s Capitol city.
Grossing $155 million in its opening weekend alone — the start of a nearly $695 million worldwide run — the movie spawned three sequels, and turned Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson into young box office superstars.
Lawrence played Katniss Everdeen, one of the “tributes” from Panem’s District 12, a skilled hunter who takes her younger sister’s place in the deadly games. Katniss quickly rises to the top of the field, to the delight of the Capitol’s viewers.
Hemsworth played Gale Hawthorne, Katniss’ best friend, fellow hunter and eventual love interest. Hutcherson, meanwhile, played Peeta Mellark, Katniss’ fellow District 12 competitor, who gets “shipped” with Katniss by the organizers of the Games to goose viewership.
The film also had stand-out supporting performances from a handful of stars. Woody Harrelson played Hamish, a former winner who has become a drunk in retirement, and who advises Katniss; Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Katniss’ charismatic stylist, who gives her a camera-ready makeover befitting her celebrity status and who becomes a trusted confidante; Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, the Games’ flamboyant escort; and Stanley Tucci as the blue-haired talk show host Caesar Flickerman, who covers the competition.
All the characters returned in the follow-up films — 2013’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 2014’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, and 2015’s Mockingjay Part 2 — which tracked Katniss quest to overthrow Panem’s autocratic rule and end the Games.
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