Characters

Visualizing Panem Post-Movies

Now that the entire Hunger Games series has been adapted to film, I’ve been taking stock in how these movies have impacted how I think about the book series. I’ll come right out with it and say it – while I LOVE SO MUCH about the movies, they will never top the books for me. There are some creative choices in the movies that I will adamantly reject forever and try to forget (mainly some parts of The Hunger Games movie and some scenes from the last 25 minutes of Mockingjay Part 2). Hmm, that sounds like fodder for a post, but for a later date.

On the other hand, there are some parts of these movies where everything fell into place and just was so RIGHT that it’s taken over how I visualize certain characters or scenes when I now re-read the books.

Right from the Start: Snow and Coin

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From first casting announcements of both Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore, I felt really good about how these characters would translate to screen. They look the part and inhabit those roles in a way that fits so well with how I’ve imagined the characters. Donald Sutherland owns Snow so much for me now that I get chills when hearing his voiceover work on orange juice or airline commercials. President Snow wants me to drink orange juice. Yes, sir! I remember being surprised how sympathetic Coin was in Mockingjay Part 1, but it seemed very right for the progression of the character, and how she would have been without the framing of Katniss’s “unreliable narrator” perspective.

Oh. My. Finnick

Finnick cfFor those around the fandom in Catching Fire casting days, you remember what a BIG FREAKING DEAL this was. Lots of names thrown around to play Finnick. Lots of fan favorites. And Sam Claflin, a relative unknown (outside of roles in Snow White & the Huntsman and a Pirates of the Caribbean movie) was chosen. We had time to “get to know him” pre-CF. He was delightful on Twitter. Set photos leaked that were very promising. There was that Capitol Portrait with the pirate look. And then we saw him in the movie and YAY, IT WORKED.  He was Finnick. He is how I see Finnick now. Bravo.

Awesome Surprises From Smaller Roles: Paylor and Jackson

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One of the great, wonderful surprises of the Mockingjay movies was the development of these two characters, who I honestly never paid much attention to, at least during my first reading of the books. So Patina Miller and Michelle Forbes had the benefit of a cleaner slate to build these characters. And build them they did. They project authentic power and leadership so well that you don’t question the news that Paylor will be president, or Jackson’s role in Squad 451 in the slightest. When I re-read Mockingjay, I see those actresses in full costume. They ARE those characters now for me, and it’s enriched the reading experience.

An Interesting Mix: Effie and Haymitch

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The overly bright, colorful world of the Capitol in Suzanne Collins books is intentional. You have to admit though, that the Candy-Land-on-acid-type buildings would have been too distracting to deal with on screen so the “Capitol color” is restricted mostly to the people, not buildings. But with the costume, makeup, and hair styling of Effie, the team really nailed it, and Elizabeth Banks surely took charge of making that character her own. I think the decision to add Effie to District 13 was a good decision for Mockingjay Part 1, but still think Book!Effie follows a more realistic path for that character. I love how Elizabeth Banks gave the character more heart, but I don’t see Effie really changing that dramatically so quickly. In terms of how I visualize the character though, it’s all Elizabeth Banks in her full Capitol glory. Kudos to her and the design team for the creativity and transformation.

Then we come to Haymitch, who I always though of as more “Seam” in looks with darker hair and complexion, more damaged, more dirty, more foul, and much more drunk than we see in the movies. Regrettably, the movies give us a PG-version of Haymitch. Sure, you see him drinking, and his mockery and wit is there, but he’s nowhere near the abrasive drunk he is in the books.  I would have loved to see Woody Harrelson given full reign to make the character more rough. All of that being said, when I read the books, my mind sees Woody Harrelson and that blond wig. Somehow, he’s convinced my brain. He is Haymitch. The mind does what it wants. It’s interesting that this happened, considering this next part.

The Big Three: Love You Guys SO MUCH, but…

What about Katniss, Peeta and Gale? Jennifer Lawrence did a phenomenal job with Katniss. She grabbed hold of that character and owned the performance throughout the four movies. So much so that her voice is very much Katniss’s voice to me. I feel the same way about Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth (well at least 90% for Liam, but he got better as the movies went along). For all the wonderful ways they inhabited these roles, my mind still can’t (or won’t) adapt. The way I perceive these three in my mind’s eye when reading the books is much different. The cast is perhaps too physically beautiful, too Hollywood, and for Katniss and Gale, yes, too much of northwestern European ancestry to cancel out how I’ve always imagined the three. It’s nothing against the actors, because those are things they can’t change and these were movies with certain expectations of super-Hollywood-esque attractiveness from the leads.  Katniss and Peeta especially remain murky visual concepts in my head, and I’m fine with that. It’s probably better that way for the two characters who I love the most.

Movies – they mess with your head in unexpected ways.

JJ

 

Victor’s Village Hunger Games Holiday Gift Guide 2015

The final Hunger Games movie is out, but our hunger for cool Hunger Games merch is far from over. As in previous years, we’re back with our holiday gift guide with ideas for The Hunger Games lovers in your life… or to add to your own wish list!

The Hunger Games Funko POP! Figures

Funko POP! figures are our favorite collectibles of all the collectibles out there, so we’re in love with The Hunger Games collection! It covers all of Katniss’ major moments in four different figurines, plus Peeta, Effie, and President Snow! Was there ever a better desk decoration?

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Minimalist Poster Print by GreaterGeek

Besides having an excellent shop name, GreaterGeek also has stellar minimalist posters. This “Hope” poster offers up style, a favorite quote, and a pop of color!

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Peeta’s Necklace

Mockingjay symbols are thrown around all willy-nilly these days. Peeta’s necklace is an adorable choice for people who sometimes have to be a little quieter about their love for the series in everyday life. Fellow fans will get it and love it, but your strict boss will just think it’s a cute pendant.

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THG Color Changing Mug by MugDesignStudio

We’re a sucker for these color changing mugs. They’re deceptive: Plan black with a cold beverage, but revealing a great design with your morning coffee or tea to perk up the day!

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Mrs. Mellark Apron

We will forever associate The Boy With The Bread with our baking projects, though ours are way more haphazard. Now that the whole world knows the canon Katniss/Peeta ending (sorry not sorry, Team Gale!), why not celebrate your love for the character WHILE baking?!

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 score

We recognize that we live in a Wild Wild West in which nobody buys music anymore, but this isn’t any old music. The Mockingjay Part 2 score is lovely, intense, and emotional. It will help fans through their major ending feels. Plus, it’s got that original version of ‘Deep In The Meadow’ that we all covet!

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Mockingjay Movie Moments That Mattered

Back in our post about spoilers, we talked about how moments specific movie moments are important and have their own unique value. Now we’re going to talk about the special movie-only instances that caught our eye!

We should mention that a great one was already mentioned in JJ’s latest post: Castor and Pollux in the sewers, pooling their strength and solidarity to make it through a tough scenario.

“Plucked!”

President Snow’s need for control is so immense, he feels the need to correct President Coin when she misquotes him. No one can hear him and the rebellion is knocking at his door, but it doesn’t matter because dammit, Coin was misrepresenting him!

Those eyebrows though.

Those eyebrows though.

Leeg’s Last Stand

This isn’t what happened in the books, but we might have liked this better. Rather than Leeg 1 and Leeg 2 dying in completely separate instances, they take a final stand together. One is immobile, but the other stays by her side, knowing the inevitable outcome. There’s a really harrowing shot of the twins hunkering down and aiming their guns toward the stairs, where they expect the Peacekeepers to storm in at any minute.

Finnick’s smile during The Capitol’s tribute to his “death”

The Capitol tries to capitalize on the destruction of Squad 451 almost immediately, flashing a Hunger Games-style tribute to them with the anthem blaring in the background. No one is more amused than Finnick, who’s on hand when a mega-watt smile. It would be adorable… if you didn’t then remember that Finnick was minutes away from death, thus crushing your soul.

It's like this smirk but later away from Annie and... *lip quiver*

It’s like this smirk but later away from Annie and… *lip quiver*

F^%&KING MUTTS!

Yes, we knew they were coming. But the build up was so tense! Damn it all if we didn’t freak right the fuck out in the moment that the first lizard mutt jumped out. There’s a stark difference between reading about these thing and having them leap into your vision after being strung out by shadows and blurs for the three minutes prior. Jump scares get us every time, so frankly we’re just lucky we didn’t pee ourselves a little!

Plutarch’s Letter

We saw the stills from this scene, but we didn’t realize exactly what it was. Haymitch is reading Plutarch’s final words– or rather, Woody Harrelson was delivering them in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. The speech is bittersweet to begin with, but read in this fashion, your heart sinks and you give it all a little more consideration. Not the best pick-me-up, but a really solid scene!

The Hayffie Kiss

Guys. GUYS. WHAT EVEN. Up until a couple weeks ago, Hayffie was a moderately popular bit of fanon supported by Elizabeth Banks. It always seemed to be an inside joke, but then they were kissing in the movie! Not a first-time passionate kiss, a “We’ve been at it for months while you were too busy looking elsewhere” kiss! It’s not quite Greedo shooting first (if compare book-to-movie against movie-to-“remastered”-movie), but it definitely affects opinion in the fandom going forward!

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This is way adaptations are a big deal from fandoms. Books are incredible, the life force behind most fandom. The screen adaptations add new layers of quirk, heartache, fear, and everything in between!

So Many Feels To Revisit…
The Girl With The Pearl

The Hunger Games: The Reunion

So something weird happened last night: I went to my 10 year high school reunion. YES I AM OLD. I accept this and you should too. Moving on!

It turns out the reunion situation was pretty similar to what I expected (read: fairly lackluster), but it got me thinking about the people I reunited with and how, inevitably, some of them exist in every crowd.

For instance, I was convinced to go thanks to the Effie Trinket-esque friend. The girl who still has lots of lovely memories from back in the day and remains largely positive, determined to see us take advantage of the fun promised by this event. “Its’ going to be a big, big day!” And once we got there, she was a total champ.

Naturally, it got me thinking where the rest of the characters would fall if they met in a function hall ten years later.

Still never mastered how to smile!

Still never mastered how to smile!

For instance, Gale would probably be the best dressed guy in the room. He’d make polite small talk with the girls he missed out on in high school. But ultimately, he’d have a few too many drinks, viciously insult one of those said girls and get her all upset, reminding everyone that he’s still kind of a dick.

Katniss sits at her table while almost everyone else kind of flutters around the room. She sticks with the people she knows best, but chats with anyone who comes over to say hi. She gets a little alarmed if anyone is too enthusiastic, because nobody cares about how you’re doing that much. Moderate alcohol consumption and avoiding eye contact is key to surviving the night.

Peeta is also looking decent, but in a more basic way than any of the other men. He’s friendlier than Katniss, but still sticks by her side for most of the night. Your single friends lament the fact that he’s still with “that girl he’s been dating forever” with a twinge of jealousy. Also, he gives the awkward welcome speech.

The “Oh hell he better have a ride home” guy

Haymitch is in ripped jeans and a t-shirt, drunk to the nth degree about 20 minutes arrival. He greets everyone as if they’re his best friend, even relative strangers. Upon seeing friendly faces, he thanks them for being one of the fellow “normals” to show up in comparison to the more popular folks from back in the day (P.S. That happened) and by the end of the night, he’s flashing everyone as they try to say goodbye (P.P.S. Also happened).

Annie Odair (Cresta? Cresta-Odair? WE DON’T EVEN KNOW) is there as well. She’s smartly dressed, a bit shy, but so lovely. She’s the person everyone hasn’t fully kept in touch with but is still a total joy to see. For a few seconds that the other characters catch up on news about her kiddo and life, a reunion feels like an actual reunion and not a giant puddle of awkward.

Plutarch is the guy who’s forcing everyone to take pictures, because the memories. And the Instagram account. Everyone knows he’s in not way a ruler of Panem, but he’s sure gonna act like it. He’s a little too slick for his own good and a lot of attendees roll their eyes when he turns away.

There are probably dozens of mostly nameless others involved in this reunion– Gale’s family and Katniss’ mom and several residents from both District 12 and District 13. If it were an actual Hunger Games reunion, we’d have this:

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Plus, with more people, you could probably repeat this formula several times over!

Or Just Leave For A Bar After 2 Hours. That Worked Too!
The Girl With The Pearl

The Hunger Games Disaster Theme Park

It’s been a looming threat for a long time, but as of last week, it became a reality in America: The Hunger Games theme park is being developed.

We’re not even close to the biggest Hunger Games superfans out there, but we think we’re not too shabby. We run a website dedicated to The Hunger Games and its fans, travel to premieres and big events in the fandom, buy some of the merch, discuss the promotional releases, occasionally chat on a podcast about the series, and generally pour our fangirl feels all over the Internet. Though we don’t always love every single morsel that comes out of the franchise, we’re big freaking fans!

So does that mean we want to see a theme park?

NO. FUCK TO THE NO.

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There are few words to describe what a moronic idea this is, guys! The foundation for a Hunger Games theme park is:
A) Making entertainment out of desolation, poverty, and children being forced to murder each other, desensitizing visitors to violence and the world’s struggles in the ways that Suzanne Collins was trying to warn us against.
B) Yet another attempt to hype the Capitol glam, willfully ignorant to the fact that the lush Capitol lifestyles are a harsh criticism of the way the rich often manipulate and undervalue human rights.
C) A combination of both A and B.

We understand that Lionsgate owns the rights and can milk this cash cow however they want– which they will, lest they be forced to create something new and original to intrigue audiences instead– but really, this just proves how utterly shameless they are. This is not Harry Potter or Star Wars. There is no magic, there is no adventure in space. This franchise is focused around slaughter, human rights violations, and the need to stop it. This is not a fucking theme park topic!

For goodness sake, the negligent, terrible Capitol citizens even turn the arenas into theme parks IN THE BOOKS. Suzanne Collins literally put a warning against this shit in the source material!

A spokesperson for theme park developer Avatron is defending their decision to be involved, of course:
“There are so many positives about these movies, starting with the fact that she’s an empowered young woman.”

And we agree with that. But please, do tell us how you’re going to tell build a theme park with the “empowered young woman” theme alone without the terror, war, murder, torture, or political corruption also involved. Pretty, pretty freaking please. We’d bet you our life savings that someone is going to try to dress us up as Effie Trinket and just– No thank you. Because you’re missing the entire damn point.

There’s still a little hope: Lionsgate needs financing for these parks. Hopefully, people will realize that this is not actually a good investment and it won’t come to fruition, at least here in the US. That is how much we’re against this.

Go home, Lionsgate. You’re drunk.

“They Say The Food Is Excellent”,
The Girl With The Pearl

The Reality of Mockingjay Virtual Reality

The Mockingjay Part 2 virtual reality experience debuted this weekend at New York Comic Con, which is really cool in theory. We’ve found that in practice, standing around waiting for a VR experience for ages makes you way less enthusiastic when you actually get to it but that is besides the point!

Early reports told us it was a 6-minute walkthrough of the books that doesn’t give away the end of the series. It takes fans through the major moments, but still keeps you waiting for resolution. And thanks to the beauty of the Internet (via Quarter Quell), you can watch an example now.

We realize the experience is way more immersive at the screening booths with a shaky chair, goggles, and headphones. It’s probably much more entertaining that way, because you can feel everything as if you’re really there. But we’re really surprised at how this was put together.

Even Jena Malone tried it!

Even Jena Malone tried it!

In most VR experiences, you’re PART of the action, interacting with the surroundings and the characters. In this baby, it seems like the users are just following a recap with animated characters, not taking charge of the journey. Yes, they can look around, but when the user in the video above does so, it becomes pretty obvious that there’s only one focal point in each scene.

And the animation? Well, we’re a bit spoiled nowadays. We know CGI and animation can be so realistic that this feels a bit like playing an original XBox.

Hopefully, the fans who went through the experience loved it. Whenever The Hunger Games is involved, fans wanna love it, after all!

We Just Want The VR To Be Good PR,
The Girl With The Pearl

Hunger Games Halloween, Mockingjay Style

Brace yourselves! It’s our final look at how you can embrace The Hunger Games this Halloween!

We know fans may be dressing up at Hunger Games characters for years to come, but after Mockingjay Part 2, there won’t be any new designs for the crafty fans to minic and the rests of us to purchase in knockoff form.

But now, there’s still time. So like we did for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, let’s consider our Mockingjay Halloween options!

Naturally, we start with THE MOCKINGJAY. Or “Warrior Huntress”, because legal purposes.

warrior huntress

There’s a strange spindly phoenix logo, but close enough. Unless you’re good with manipulating catcher’s pads into costumes, this is probably one of the closer designs you’ll find.

There’s even has a take on Katniss’ three-finger glove, which is key for fake arrow shooting!

katniss glove

Do the suit come in red? Not yet! But you can always gamble with red fabric paint!

We searched the Internet far and wide for suitable Star Squad replica costumes with no luck. BUT there’s costume body armor. Throw it over a long black collared jacket and some tactical pants and maybe it could work?

It’s pretty sad that there’s no Peeta specific costumes for Part 2, those guys could always grab a white suit and a turtleneck and go for Capitol Captive Peeta!

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Still guys, remember, EFFIE IS THE BEST AND POSSIBLY EASIEST COSTUME. Poofy wig. Outrageous dress. Questionable makeup. Accessories, accessories!

Happy Halloween!
The Girl With The Pearl

The Final Fiery Action Hero Katniss

In the midst of earlier chaos, the final movie poster for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 arrived! And with it, the last misguided attempt at convincing non-readers that Katniss is a sleek, shoot-em-up style action hero.

Let’s start with the image, which may also end up being the DVD cover, if existing patterns remain:

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Particularly with Mockingjay Part 2, Lionsgate has been trying to make Katniss look like a badass war hero who will destroy ALL THE THINGS that oppress the Districts of Panem, gloriously outfitted and armed to handle to worst of situations with ease. For instance, in a red suit (that’s gotta be a District 13 propo suit… Irony kills us), bow and arrow pointed in the distance as a fiery, freed Mockingjay symbol bursts into flame just behind her.

It’s probably a sexy concept for people who aren’t too familiar with the books or the movies so far. If they’re into mostly mindless action, perhaps it will draw them in. But then they’ll be kind of shocked because they were presented with a totally false version of the story’s heroine and a bit of a disservice to the character.

Don’t get us wrong! Katniss Everdeen is a badass. But she’s not a badass because she runs out, arrows blazing, to single-handedly destroy the enemy in fearsome battle. It’s because she hates battle. She hates killing people, but she’s constantly put in situations in which she doesn’t have a choice. She wants to save her loved ones and she’ll go through hell to do that. Because she hates the attention and the way people look to her for answers she doesn’t have. Because she’s frightened and scarred, not some goddess warrior chick come to lead the troops and save the world. Katniss Everdeen is a badass because she doesn’t want any of it, but she comes to terms with her reluctance in the hopes that she can make a difference for the people she loves. To us, that matters so much more than the action, adventure, high-powered-thrills appeal this poster wants to convey.

We don’t know about you, but that’s not what this poster conveys to us. Yes, “reluctant hero” is a harder message to convey, but we don’t think anyone even attempted that route here. Instead, they just got stuck on the whole “Let’s try to make it look like the wings are hers” bit again.

It’s cool, though. We know the real Katniss Everdeen, thanks to the books and the much more accurate ways she’s portrayed in the movies. That Katniss Everdeen is our homegirl.

At Least The Beak Isn’t Coming Out Of Her Neck This Time,
The Girl With The Pearl

What Those Mockingjay Part 2 Stills Are Really Saying

For so long, we sat at our computers bemoaning the total lack of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 promotion, begging Lionsgate to “just give us something!”

Now they’re giving us ALL THE THINGS. Right now. At the same damn time as all the other things. Yesterday, we got a poster. Today, tickets went on sale and Fandango users will get a new clip if they purchase when 24 hours (if you’re in a prominently MovieTickets.com region like us, look to the inevitable piracy). Entertainment Weekly also released a still cover featuring photoshop-y Katniss, Peeta, and Gale from Tim Palen’s upcoming book o’ portrait wonders and eight new stills. Tomorrow, the final trailer hits… but only at Best Buy. Again.

Clearly, that’s a lot to talk about. AND WE WILL. But today, we’re gonna focus in on those stills. You may not realize it, but there’s a message in each character’s eyes. There’s some serious thought there that they’re trying to get out. We’ll translate for you.

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“Urghh… It looks like we’re still committed to playing out the love triangle that nobody wants. Seriously, it’s giving me a migraine…”

 

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“Da na na na, da na na na, da na na na, da na na na… CROSSBOW! The weapon for guys who want to impress chicks but don’t have any real skill!”

 

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“We’re all pretty psyched about confronting the enemy! ..Except Peeta. He still doesn’t know what the fuck to do with his gun.”

 

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“I’m just the basic bitch behind the camera, so Imma sit back and encourage the real badass to do all the killing despise her worst fears blooming to life before her eyes. How else do you think I keep my hair firmly to one side?”

 

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“And then those freaking mutts showed up and I was like… tumblr_mvhy9xAFC41s822dfo1_250

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“Why are we in The Hunger Games franchise playing bad cop/reluctant cop, again? We were born to play Legolas’ twin sisters in Lord of the Rings, thank you very much!”

 

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“Look, Katniss, it’s not that I’m not saddened by your sister’s death. It’s just that.. if I’m going to drop you off in District 12 in place of Plutarch and mourn with you for a moment, I’m gonna look fly as fuck as I do it. Plzkthx.”

 

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“You thought you had your shit together by this point in the movie, didn’t you? THINK AGAIN, WOMAN!

That’s Our Story And We’re Stickin’ To It,
The Girl With The Pearl

“Trailer” Talk: Prim-O-Rama

Okay, people! Let’s talk about that “For Prim” trailer!

**SPOILERS GALORE!**

Starting with this question: IS IT REALLY EVEN A MOCKINGJAY PART 2 TRAILER?

Yes, it’s over two minutes long and it hints at the importance of Katniss and Prim in the final movie. But it’s only got a few seconds of footage from Mockingjay Part 2! Ninety-seven percent of this sucker is a recap of the previous movies! Isn’t it most of a promo or a sister-centric franchise trailer than anything?

If you’re not sure, watch again and decide for yourself!

Perhaps it’s an unpopular opinion but we’re just gonna go out there and say it: This one just didn’t get to us.

We know the final movie really needs to emphasize the importance of Prim so fans really feel the loss of Prim as something horrific. We struggled with this in both the books and the movies. We get that Katniss loves Prim dearly but we were never felt invested in her personally. Don’t get us wrong– It’s sad that she dies! We see Katniss mourn and we mourn for her, because anyone can imagine the pain of losing someone close to them. When we watch the movie, we’ll probably get a bit emotional when it happens. But in the meantime, this is kinda just feels like stalling without actually giving us new things from the movie.

Visually, this is a fun experience. The smoky, blended images lend a really unique look to this, but it sometimes reminds us of a good fan-made video or a music video rather than an actual studio-made trailer for a major franchise. But we suppose that’s a compliment to fan video creators, right?!

REMINDER: Fragile 12-year-old is fragile.

REMINDER: Fragile 12-year-old is fragile.

The song, however, kills it. In a bad way. M83 is a talented group and I think most of their songs are a great choice for films and film promotion, but this doesn’t work for us here. It’s properly moody, but the random yell-y bits in between nostalgic dialogue were super jarring and took us right out of the moment.

Of course, it also comes back to another big question: IS THIS A GIANT SPOILER?

We don’t think all unfamiliar audiences will see this trailer and immediately know that Prim is going to die, but it certainly raises red flags. We’ve all seen enough movies to know that when a relationship that’s NOT romantic is emphasized, something significant is about to happen to them. More often than not, one of the people involved is about to die. And this focuses very specifically on Prim– not on family, not on District 12. It’s Prim-o-rama!

Not to mention the cyclical clusterfuck of a “possible spoiler” warning inadvertently making people aware enough to look for said possible spoilers when they wouldn’t have found them otherwise.

So Lionsgate going “SISTERS ARE IMPORTANT, Y’ALL!” doesn’t quite guarantee death, but it hints at death well enough. They likely made the trailer with the diehard types in mind, but we diehards also like the unfiltered, unspoiled reactions of the non-book reading masses on occasion!

At Least We’re Doin’ It All For Prim, Right?
The Girl With The Pearl