Even though ‘Catching Fire’, the sequel 2012’s ‘The Hunger Games’ has only just opened in UK cinemas, we’re already casting out our minds forward to the adaptation of the third book in Suzanne Collins’ fantasy series – 'Mockingjay' - which promises to bring the saga to a close in epic style.
If you’re a fan of the books (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), you already know how the story ends for Katniss, Peeta, Gale and the world of Panem, but that doesn’t stop Mockingjay from being one (or even two) of the most anticipated movies of the next few years.
As ‘Catching Fire’ ignites in cinemas across the country, let’s take a look at the cold hard facts that we know about ‘Mockingjay’ so far.
Beware of possible plot spoilers for ‘Catching Fire’ and ‘Mockingjay’ ahead…
There’s going to be two of them
Following the template set by ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Twilight’, the concluding chapter of ‘The Hunger Games’ will split over two films to give cinema-goers a double-hit of their favourite characters before waving them goodbye for good.
Or, to allow movie studios to clinically rinse the captive audience twice. Delete as appropriate for your levels of cynicism.
We know that both be released in the lucrative pre-Christmas slot with ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1’ coming November 21, 2014 before Part 2 takes its bow on November 20, 2015.
We know the main cast will return
The lead trio will all definitely be back for both parts, come hell or tracker jacker, as Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth all signed a multi-picture deal to play Katniss, Peeta and Gale for the duration of the franchise.
Lawrence is rumoured to have been paid $500,000 upfront for ‘The Hunger Games’, plus bonuses depending on the box office performance, but she is said to have negotiated a $10m deal for ‘Catching Fire’ following the runaway success of the first film.
Hutcherson and Hemsworth are likely to have renegotiated, but will have had to settle for far less than the film’s Oscar-winning female lead. What the trio earns in the two concluding chapters will probably depend on whether ‘Catching Fire’ is able to repeat the box-office success of its predecessor, but with Lawrence’s star on the ascendance, she could be looking at a bumper payday to return as the Girl on Fire.
Expect the supporting cast to return too, from Donald Sutherland and Stanley Tucci to Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks, none of the actors will want to miss out on the final chapters of this hugely popular series.
We know director Francis Lawrence will return
After the resounding success of ‘The Hunger Games’, it was presumed that director Gary Ross would stay on for the sequels, but he dropped out due to the tight production schedule imposed by the studio for the annual turnaround.
‘I Am Legend’ director Francis Lawrence was soon recruited and signed a deal with Lionsgate to bring the next three films to screens, starting with ‘Catching Fire’, but he has been vocal in support of his predecessor’s vision saying, “I thought Gary did an amazing job with the world building in ‘The Hunger Games’ so we worked with the same production designer to make sure that the Capital still was built from the same architecture.”
We know there will be new characters
As is always the case with sequels, new episodes means new characters, and ‘Mockingjay’ has a wealth of incoming new faces to introduce, chief of which being President Coin, the underground leader of District 13, who will be played by Julianne Moore.
British actress Natalie Dormer, most recently seen in ‘Rush’ and ‘Game of Thrones’, will play Cressida, a gutsy TV director who follows Katniss into battle against the capitol, with Elden Henson and Wes Chatham playing her two cameramen, Pollux and Castor, and Evan Ross as her assistant Messalla.
Mahershala Ali, the TV star of ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Treme’, will play Boggs, a military bodyguard tasked with protecting Katniss by President Coin during the uprising.
Aussie newcomer Stef Dawson will play the pivotal role of Annie Cresta, the mentally scarred lover of Finnick Odair, the former District 4 champ played by Sam Claflin in ‘Catching Fire’.
Other key roles that have already been filled include twin soldiers Leeg 1 and Leeg 2 (Misty and Kim Ormiston), District 8’s rebellion leader Commander Paylor (Patina Miller), and former Hunger Games champ turned rebel Commander Lyme (Lily Rabe).
There are a few smaller parts yet to be filled including Tigris, the cat-like shop-keeper, Fulvia, Plutarch Heavensbee’s assistant, and Delly Cartwright, who didn’t make the cut for the first film, but plays a key role ‘Mockingjay’.
We know when it will start filming
There’s no rest for the wicked it seems, as shooting for Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2 is already underway, despite the cast currently being knee-deep in promo commitments for Catching Fire.
Pre-production for both parts began long ago, and spy pics from the set in Atlanta, Georgia showed J-Law and Liam Hemsworth in costume back in September. The shoot is set to continue in Boston once the press tour is finished on December 1st, with the Massachusetts town likely to double for the Capitol or District 13.
We know it’s going to have feels
With the shoot already underway, it’s no surprise that both scripts have already been locked, and as Jennifer Lawrence recently revealed, things are going to get emotional.
"I cried when I read the third script, I really did," Lawrence told THR during an interview for Catching Fire. "It was heartbreaking."
With the Katniss/Peeta/Gale love triangle getting increasingly more tangled, it’s no surprise that the District 12 gang are going to have their hearts put through the mangle in ‘Mockingjay’.
We know the final scene
Even though many people haven’t even seen the first scene in Catching Fire yet, director Francis Lawrence says he knows what the last scene in the series is going to be… as it was one of the first scenes on the new film that was shot.
Double beware for spoilers incoming…
He revealed that the last sequence Hunger Games fans will get to enjoy on the big-screen will be “A very small, minimal scene of Katniss hunting”, as he plans to bring the franchise full circle.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is in UK cinemas now.