The LA Times Hero Complex recently caught up with Francis Lawrence to discuss the time crunch involved with filming Catching Fire, creating unity between the Hunger Games and Catching Fire films, talking to the cast about PTSD, and more.
Hero Complex: You were hired to direct “Catching Fire” just 20 weeks before shooting began. Is that correct?
Francis Lawrence: It happened very, very quickly. They were sort of under a time crunch. I’d read the news about Gary leaving the project and then about a day later I got a call from my agent that everybody involved in the project wanted to see if I was interested. Within about a week, I had the job. I had been under even a stricter time crunch once before on “I Am Legend.” We actually had about 12 weeks to prep [before shooting began on that film] … This was a little more luxurious than that. The nice thing was we had a book that was really cinematic already, so there was a lot that I kind of just pulled straight from the book.
HC: Did you have distinct ideas about what elements you wanted to retain from the first movie and what you wanted to do differently?
FL: I’d never stepped into a sequel before. I definitely wanted to make sure there was an aesthetic unity between the first movie and my movie. I would say photographically I really liked what Gary did in terms of approaching it from a naturalistic style. My own personal version of naturalism is different than his… Most of my visual approach was born from the kind of story it is. This is the portion of the three books where the story really kind of opens up, the mythology opens up. We get to see a lot more of the world, a lot more of the Capitol, a lot more of the districts. I definitely wanted to mine that. We were going to a lot of new districts and seeing more within each of those districts and seeing the Capitol in a different way. So, [we were] making choices like, OK, if we have a chariot parade and they had one for the last one how can we do it differently? Let’s do it during the day this time so we can see more. There were a lot of choices that I made that were just based on season. This movie starts about six months after the last Games, which places us in winter, so I got to do District 12 in the winter as opposed to District 12 in the summer. That drove a lot of decisions as well in terms of color and the sort of look of the entire district — bare trees and cooler tones.
HC: What sorts of conversations did you have with the actors, specifically Jennifer Lawrence, prior to filming?
FL: We talked a lot about PTSD. I had her speak to somebody about PTSD. Jena Malone, who plays Johanna, she spoke to somebody. Woody [Harrelson], we start to discover [his character, Haymitch, is] a drinker because of PTSD. It was those kinds of little things because that was the element in terms of Katniss’ character that we wanted to explore – what that does to somebody and how a girl like Katniss really, she doesn’t want the responsibility that’s about to be laid on her shoulders. She just wants her old life back. Even if it’s not what most people would think is a great life, it’s a lot better than being under the thumb of President Snow or being asked to be a symbol for a revolution. That’s just a lot of responsibility that a 17-year-old girl wouldn’t want. That’s what most of our conversation were about.
Catching Fire is setting more records! THR reported that Catching Fire made 19.5 million in the UK this weekend, which makes this an opening weekend record for Lionsgate.
British audiences’ appetite for Jennifer Lawrence starrer The Hunger Games: Catching Fire proved insatiable, with the movie taking in a total of more than $19.5 million (£12 million) for distributor Lionsgate over the course of its opening weekend.
That was an opening weekend record for Lionsgate in Britain. The performance of the release was bolstered by midnight screenings on Wednesday that garnered $487,000 (£300,000) at 275 cinemas.
THR has also reported that Catching Fire has brought in around $18 million in IMAX theaters.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire brought in an estimated $18 million in Imax theaters worldwide, including $12.6 million in the U.S., marking the best three-day domestic opening in November for the giant-screen exhibitor.
Imax released the second installment of the Hunger Gamesfranchise on 347 screens in North America starting on Friday. The domestic per-screen average came to around $36,300. That topped the previous Imax record set by Sony’s Skyfall in Nov. 2012.
Screen Rant has an excellent interview with our own President Snow, Donald Sutherland. Check out a part of it below:
Someone asked you how you felt about President Snow in this film and you said you love him. Is that the key for you in playing a villain, that you have to embrace that guy so you can fully inhabit and understand him?
Donald Sutherland: I don’t ever think of anybody as being a villain. I think of him as he’s a tyrant. When I wrote the letter to Gary (Ross) initially to see if I could play this, I brought out images of Lenin and Stalin. I even brought up an image of Bashar al-Assad in the whole list of them. I said I don’t know actually how Assad fits in, but this was four years ago — he fits in perfectly now. But these are people who have found a way to exert power by extraordinary force and manipulation. We do it too in the United States, you know. A guy as good as Barack Obama sends predator drones over Pakistan and you have collateral damage, Jesus Christ, collateral damage. A dead kid in your arms and that’s collateral damage? I’m sure I don’t think it’s collateral to the people on the ground.
His mouth bleeds. He wears a rose ’cause his mouth smells of blood and that’s because he’s ambitious. 40 years ago, he poisoned all his competitors for this job. So that he would be not accused of being the person that did the poisoning, he took some poison himself. Not enough to kill him, but enough so that it was in his bloodstream so that he was a survivor. He was able to control the country when part of it broke away. And he uses an iron hand. He executes people as his way of controlling the population. But he does it so well. And he doesn’t think he’s a bad person. He thinks it’s the only way that society can survive. And whether you think he’s right or wrong, he doesn’t think he’s bad. He likes himself.
You’ve got those great scenes where you’re very almost congenial to Jennifer Lawrence in a sense, and then we actually see scenes of Snow with his granddaughter. Does that make him more rounded as a human being, even if he’s a human being who’s gone entirely off the rails?
Sure he is, within a certain context. Absolutely he is. And he must be a lovely fellow to be with so long as — you know. When he spoke to Seneca Crane in the rose garden scenes that Gary wrote for the first movie, he was able to create a scene where Snow was so articulate with Crane because he was grooming Crane to be his successor and Crane blew it. He was sentimental. He made wrong decisions. You can’t make wrong decisions because they cost you your life. For Snow, Katniss Everdeen is perfect. She’s everything he desires as a successor. And maybe he will succeed and turn her around, ’cause she doesn’t want to be a hero of the revolution. Other people are doing that to her. He’s doing a different thing on his side. He’s using the thing he knows, which are threats and manipulation. But nonetheless, it’s a game of chess and it’s not going to come to a draw. Somebody’s king is going to topple over.
Read the entire interview at Screen Rantread more
Sure Catching Fire is doing great with Box-Office Records, and yes, it didn’t quite make the mark when it came down to beating movies such as The Dark Knight Rises. What really matters is what else was accomplished with Catching Fire. Check it out below:
They’re conquering the world
After taking in $146 million from overseas on its opening weekend, “Catching Fire” is already more than halfway to the $286 million that “Hunger Games” made internationally. This is where the franchise has the most room to grow, because the first film didn’t take off overseas, and that has been the focus of the strategy. With “Thor: The Dark World” essentially played out and “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug” two weeks away, we’ll know relatively soon how much hotter than the first film “Catching Fire” will burn overseas. Lionsgate has licensed out the rights to local distributors in many markets, but the performance of the film still makes a bottom line difference.
The base has broadened
The first “Hunger Games” was a bigger hit than “Twilight” because it attracted more than young girls to the theaters. “Catching Fire” improved on that trend. The studio’s exit numbers showed it skewed female at 59 percent; on the first film, that number was 71 percent. We’ll see more over the holidays, but guys seem way more inclined to come along for Katniss than they were Bella.
They managed the marketing
Like the box office, the merchandising had to get bigger to be a success. But not overdoing it and turning off fans was critical for the long-term success of the series. The marketers of “Catching Fire” stopped strategically short of saturation bombing consumers – sriracha at Subway notwithstanding — and avoided a box-office backlash.
They launched a franchise
The success of the first film made it seem that “Catching Fire” was a sure-fire blockbuster. But even with a built-in following as large as that of Suzanne Collins, upon whose novels the books are based, there’s no such thing, as this year string of young-adult misfires attests. It’s hard to imagine a studio that has benefited more from the success of a single franchise than Lionsgate has from “The Hunger Games,” and the potential is huge. But without delivering at the box office, there are no theme parks and the District 12 makeup-looks become passé quickly. “Catching Fire” and Lionsgate delivered this weekend.
Check out the entire article at The Wrapread more
Watch this short but hilarious video of Sam Claflin talking about…thong issues with Chelsea Lately.
Costume designer Trish Summerville sat down with NY Magazine to talk Victors Village clothes vs. regular D12 clothes, the wedding dress, CGI, and more.
When we first see Katniss in Catching Fire, she’s back home in District 12, wearing her everyday clothes, but they’re different than what she’s wearing when we first met her in the Hunger Games, because now she’s a victor and has money. How did you decide what Katniss’s new style would look like?
Her clothing is funneled from the Capitol to Victor’s Village, in the same way that Haymitch’s, or any other victor’s, is. She has this relationship with Cinna, and he understands who she is and who Peeta is, so he can abide by what the Capitol standards are and still stay true to who they are. So it was taking elements of how I thought they would dress, whether they had money or not, and then bringing it up a bit. So she still wears denim, she wears these coveralls, and they’re both still in boots quite a lot. As they start to go along the victory tour, the clothes start to incorporate more color, more texture; they start to get more fashion-forward, and they’re a little bit more refined. Finally, we see them at the gala party [wearing] the finest of the clothing that Cinna’s designed for them, so it’s this progression you see from the time they leave Victor’s Village until the Capitol.
How much did Katniss’s wedding dress weigh? And how did Jennifer Lawrence twirl in that?
It’s really huge — I want to say it weighed between 25 and 30 pounds. The inside of the dress is architecturally structured to support the garment [so] that there wasn’t really a problem. We got her a stool to sit on that we would tuck up beneath the dress so she could sit in between takes, but she carried it really well.
The wedding dress looked Alexander McQueen-esque, but who designed it?
Tex Saverio. We collaborated on building this piece. He’s a young, brilliant desginer from Indonesia. I’ve been following his designs for a while, wondering when I could use one, and I actually thought it was going to be for editorial or a stage performance, because they’re really intricate and quite detailed. But when Catching Fire came up, he was the only designer I pursued to design the wedding dress.
So the flames in the wedding dress scene must have been CGI, but how did that work?
Yes, it’s all CGI, because you’d have to have a fireproof gel to coat your body in and then wear fireproof suits, so that didn’t really apply. And then you can never control the flames the way you want to, and you’d have to have multiples of the costume. So we would shoot the wedding dress and then she would spin in the dress, then change into the mockingjay dress with the printed feathers on it, and she’d spin in that one. I worked closely with the amazing visual effects gentleman on scanning fabrics and seeing what the costumes were really like so he could see how the flames and ash would read the best.
Read the entire interview at NY Magazineread more
ComingSoon.net chatted with director Francis Lawrence about joining the Hunger Games franchise and casting the new Catching Fire actors. Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz talk Effie outfits, Cinna’s determination, and fan interactions. Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson talk the meaningfulness of the story and working with Francis Lawrence.
A new TV spot has just been released, celebrating the fact that Catching Fire is now the #1 movie in the world! This is great to see after so much waiting for this film to be released! How many times have you seen the movie, and how many more times do you plan on catching it in theaters? Let us know in the comments!read more
Were you a fan of the wardrobe featured in Catching Fire? The woman to thank for all the amazing costumes is Trish Summerville, who is extremely talented in bringing out the best designs for The Hunger Games. Now, you can dress in clothing designed by Summerville herself, as she teams up with NET-A-PORTER for the Capitol Couture Collection.
NET-A-PORTER celebrates the hotly anticipated release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with an exclusive capsule collection inspired by the movie. Created by the film’s multi award-winning costume designer Trish Summerville,CAPITOL COUTURE features laser-cut leather, streamlined silhouettes and dramatic eveningwear.
If you’d like to check out the full collection, be sure to head over to NET-A-PORTER. Would you purchase any of these? Let us know in the comments!read more