The Hunger Games is a 2012 American science fiction adventure film directed by Gary Ross, based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins. It is the first installment in The Hunger Games film series. The film was produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik, with a screenplay by Ross, Collins, and Billy Ray. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Willow Shields, and features Lenny Kravitz and Stanley Tucci. The story takes place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future in the nation of Panem, where Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) volunteers to take part in the games. Joined by her district's male tribute Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson), Katniss travels to the Capitol to train for the Hunger Games under the guidance of former victor Haymitch Abernathy (Harrelson).
Development of The Hunger Games began in March 2009 when Lions Gate Entertainment entered into a co-production agreement with Color Force, which had acquired the rights a few weeks earlier. Collins collaborated with Ray and Ross to write the screenplay. The screenplay expanded the character of Seneca Crane to allow several developments to be shown directly to the audience and Ross added several scenes between Crane and Coriolanus Snow. The main characters were cast between March and May 2011. Principal photography began in May 2011 and ended in September 2011, and filming took place in North Carolina. The Hunger Games was shot entirely on film as opposed to digital.
The film was released on March 21, 2012, in France and in the US on March 23, 2012, in both conventional theaters and digital IMAX theaters. Japan received it last, on September 28. When the film released, it set records for opening day ($67.3 million) and opening weekend for a non-sequel. At the time of its release, the film's opening weekend gross ($152.5 million) was the third-largest of any movie in North America. It is the first film since Avatar to remain in first place at the North American box office for four consecutive weekends. The movie was a massive box-office success by grossing $685 million worldwide against its budget of $78 million, making it the third highest grossing film in the United States and ninth highest grossing worldwide of 2012. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 18, 2012. With 7,434,058 units sold, the DVD was the best-selling DVD of 2012.
The Hunger Games received positive reviews, with praise for its themes and messages, as well as Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss. Like the novel, the film has attracted criticism for its similarities to other works, such as the Japanese novel Battle Royale, its film adaptation, and the Shirley Jackson short story "The Lottery." Collins' novel and screenplay drew on sources of inspiration such as the myth of Theseus, Roman gladiatorial games, reality television, and the desensitization of viewers to media coverage of real-life tragedy and war, not to think as just an audience member, "Because those are real people on the screen, and they’re not going away when the commercials start to roll." The song "Safe & Sound" won a Grammy Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Lawrence was nominated for the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, the Saturn Award for Best Actress, and won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award and Empire Award for Best Actress.
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