Catching Fire

Our Blu-Ray Extras Wish List

As we move into February, the release of Mockingjay Part 2 on Digital HD and then Blu-Ray/DVD is inevitably coming soon. Along with the benefit of being able to watch the movie over and over and over again comes the fun of digesting all the extra stuff they add in to entice you to purchase.

We expect the features to be similar to previous Hunger Games movies – audio commentary with Francis and Nina, a few deleted scenes, and lots of behind the scenes featurettes on making the film. The fact that this is the last film makes us a little antsy about what bits they add to this release versus what they choose to add to any ULTIMATE, SUPER-SHINY 4-MOVIE SET that will be coming later in the year, or in 2017, or both. You know they’ve got to hold something back for those later editions. What do they have in that treasure trove to look forward to?

So now we present our not-very-grounded-in-reality wish list of Hunger Games movie (all of ‘em) extras that we’re dying to see at some point:

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Prim, what kind of nightmare sequence was this? Gary, stop holding back.

Those scenes we’ve seen in stills or BTS footage but never the actual footage. Prim in the tribute costume? Gary, what was that about? Katniss and Peeta having a chat in the tribute center. Again Gary, share that with us! Peeta getting his arm painted by the morphling. Francis, please!

Catching Fire Katniss and Peeta rooftop footage. We know something was filmed. We suppose it hit the cutting room floor early because why would you NOT include this footage as a Catching Fire extra? We’ll forgive the quality. Whatever it is, we JUST NEED TO SEE IT.

Revisions to the end of Mockingjay Part 2 after the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. We know about the places where footage from other scenes was added. We know Haymitch reading Plutarch’s letter was a change. But we’re curious what the plan was originally, had tragedy not occurred.

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Don’t tell us you don’t want a cast audio-commentary. Not possible.

Cast audio-commentary. The Francis and Nina audio-commentaries give us some great insight into the making of the movies. But the fandom would completely lose their shit if Lionsgate were ever able to wrangle Jen, Josh, Liam, Woody, Liz et al into doing audio commentaries for the films.  It’s the dream, people. THE DREAM.

Everlark sex. JUST KIDDING, but with all the messages Francis gets about that from fans, we couldn’t NOT mention it. The thought of that actually being filmed makes us feel really awkward, and the inclusion of a scene of that nature would HAVE NOT fit the end of Mockingjay Part 2. If you want that, there’s a whole wide world of fan fiction to explore. BUT I would be really curious to know about the creative decisions that took place in the execution of the actual, final “real or not real” scene. As much as I hate to say it, as more time passes, I find it disappointing. Or maybe I just need to watch the movie again when it comes out and learn to let it all go.

What other extras should we be pleading for?

JJ

 

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

SnowCoin

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

paylor jackson

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

effie haymitch

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

 

Hunger Games Movie Rewatches Ahead!

You were probably planning on watching the three Hunger Games movies in advance of Mockingjay Part 2, but now we can do it together and be tempted by prizes (451 of them, nice number there).

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Yes, Lionsgate is organizing movie watching parties for all 3 movies for the next 3 Fridays. We love a big group live tweet, so we’re totally in for a nice fandom-wide rewatch. Hopefully our friends in Europe are night owls so they can tweet along too.

And 451 prizes! We have a suspicion that a lot of these are Mockingjay pins… But we can always use another Mockingjay pin or 4.

We just hope the official account doesn’t get too crazy tweeting about the #feels or other embarrassing fan speak. That language is cool for FANS to use, but when official accounts use it too much, it comes off as cringey and trying way too hard.

Get your popcorn and devices ready!

JJ

The Missing Mockingjay Part 2 Soundtrack

It’s less than two months until Mockingjay Part 2, and we’re pretty surprised that there’s been no news about a soundtrack yet. In previous years, we had confirmation of it’s existence and at least the credits song by now. SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN????

There’s probably only two possibilities here:

  • There will be no “inspired by” original soundtrack this year, just a score and maybe an original song that plays during the credits.
  • There will be a separate “inspired by” original soundtrack and a score, like with the past 3 movies but it’s taking more time than usual to get the details all worked out.

With every day that passes and no news, we’re starting to think that it’s the first option. Moreover, as pointed out by QuarterQuell.org, the latest poster does not list a Music Supervisor (THG and CF had them, and these people were responsible for the original soundtrack albums, MJ1 did not as Lorde “curated” the original soundtrack album).

soundtracksWe were big fans of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire original soundtracks but thought Mockingjay Part 1’s missed the mark. The Mockingjay Part 1 original soundtrack had far lower sales than the two previous as well. (Jennifer Lawrence’s The Hanging Tree was the biggest hit, and that was originally packaged with the theatrical score). Just because we weren’t fans of 1 out of 3 doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be open to a final one… if the music truly captured the tone of the movie. We’re sure lots of fans feel the same way. Would Lionsgate really just say “screw it” to the possibility of extra money for this last installment? Sounds strange to us, but maybe our rioting over the horrible Hanging Tree remix made them decide not to bother?

Granted, if it’s the first option, having the score (which we know will be solid) and a truly fitting end credit song could be enough to really tap into those final movie feels. We’re all about QUALITY over QUANTITY. If the right songs aren’t there, we’d rather they not release an “inspired by” album. We respect that. But ARE THE SONGS REALLY NOT THERE?

Who wants to bet that end credits song gets a dance remix?

JJ

No Word From Our Sponsors

As we head into less than 90 days until Mockingjay Part 2’s release, there’s something a little bit different this year. Something’s missing. We’re not really upset that it’s missing, but it makes us wonder…

Where are all the sponsorships?

Cover Girl Star Wars

Thanks for distracting Cover Girl from THG this year, Star Wars!

THG franchise movie marketing have been loaded with brand cross-promotion. From the early days with China Glaze nail polish and Barbie, to the full on onslaught of Capitol Cover Girl, Subway, Samsung, Doritos, Mazda, Whole Foods, Hallmark, and more. Not that we haven’t gotten hints and rumors so far this year. Tim Palen posted some suspicious Barbie heads on his Instagram and then deleted it. (well “Ken” heads I suppose since they looks like the male characters). The Hallmark holiday ornament catalog has a Mockingjay Part 2 ornament. There may be some Funko action to come. Cover Girl is doing a makeup line with Star Wars so it looks like at least their brand of makeup won’t be tied to Katniss this year (and we are so relieved).

We are relieved on many levels. Because it’s really tough to find brands and cross-promotions that don’t clash with the themes of the series. We’re sure that there will be lots of tie-ins – that’s a crucial part of marketing (and profiting) off blockbuster movies. Hopefully some will excite us and make us happy. There will inevitably be some that are an awkward fit for the themes of the movies, but are done anyway because it makes financial sense for both parties. Even when it is awkward, it can be fun if you just don’t think about it too much. I will confess to liking the Doritos promotion last year, even though a Hunger Games tie-in to snack food is bizarre and uncomfortable. And people had fun those Catching Fire Subway standees we suppose.

As long as no company tries to “buy” the final trailer release we’ll probably be ok. We’ll still make fun of the awkward ones though. It’s what we do.

Watch – there will probably be a press release on the brand sponsors on Monday now.

JJ

Sam Claflin Lets Us #AskFinnick and It Made Our Friday

Sam Claflin QAWe’re still processing all the amazingness from yesterday’s Mockingjay Part 2 theatrical trailer but a full trailer reaction post will be coming this weekend. In the meantime, we got a treat today thanks to @LionsgateUK and Sam Claflin with a little twitter Q&A. As with any Twitter Q&A with the fandom, there is a lot of spam with people repeatedly asking the same questions (STOP THAT) and the hilariousness of the Lionsgate account tweeting some fan accounts with very “fandom” names.

Here are some of the highlights.

If he could play any other character in the Hunger Games:

Softball question, but we’re with you, Sam.

As for his favorite part of yesterday’s trailer:

Well, he’s certainly being gracious about those lizards, considering they bite off Finnick’s head. But it looks like Finnick will go out heroicly from the way he’s taking them down in the trailer.

What did he think of the Hunger Games Exhibition?

I may have included this response because @cuddlyjoshifer asked it and it makes me smile. But we agree on this one too!

On his training to fight those nasty lizards in Mockingjay Part 2:

Killing lizard mutts with a trident, nbd.

Favorite quote from Finnick:

Moving past the account name asking that one too… A great, meaningful line that has stayed with us from the first reading.

Can he picture Finnick as being the Mockingjay?

Attn: fanfic writers you have a new prompt.

Did he keep anything from set?

Thanks @sassyjoshifer.

How did he injure himself on set THIS TIME (he got hurt filming Catching Fire, but this question seems a little mean lol):

Ouch. Reminder of the pain these actors go through to bring your beloved book characters to life.

On Finnick’s inspiration to fight:

This is incredibly sweet, and we agree.

What district would SAM live in?

We really love this, District 14, cause he lives in the UK!

If he could be a superhero:

Hahaha people, so clever.

On any behavior/character traits of Finnick rubbing of on him:

Things are getting silly now and we’re loving it.

His favorite thing about Finnick:

Now we’re on to more serious matters. That switch from silly to serious & genuine seems to fit both Sam and Finnick well.

And finally, was the wedding scene fun to shoot?

I don’t know, that dancing looked pretty lovely to us.

Just one final question from us… can we have cast/crew Q&A’s every week?

JJ

REVIEW: The Hunger Games Exhibition Experience

Welcome, welcome to our review of The Hunger Games Exhibition!

A few lucky fansites were given an early preview of this massive undertaking over the weekend! Kait and JJ attended the event (though JJ very skillfully avoided all the cameras). Now, we’re breaking down everything you need to know if you’re considering a visit to what seems like the franchise’s very first East Coast attraction!

Without any further ado…

THE COSTUMES AND SETS

Yes, all the major costumes and set pieces are there, perfectly positioned and lit in all their glory. You’ll be tons of familiar outfits, designs, and set arrangements. You’ll also see so things you didn’t notice in the films. For instance, did you know Effie was wearing these shoes in District 13?!

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We’ve never seen them before and it’s tragic!

The costumes are spectacular, but there’s also full set pieces to adore. They’re set up in ways you’d easily recognize the film and pretty dazzling up close. For example, the Hob set in full of props that look faded and distressed, but seeing it all in person adds a whole new dimension to it. As you end with one section and walk into another, you’re usually turning a corner to find a massive, beloved scene RIGHT IN YOUR FACE. It was enough to make us squeal, even enough to make some others get all teary-eyed!

Just a real casual Capitol party display... SQUEE!

Also, Josh, Jen, Willow, Jena, and Francis went through the exhibit yesterday, the day after the fansites. They touched what we touched. WE PRACTICALLY EXCHANGED FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS. Just kidding, but it’s still pretty awesome!

INTERACTIVE FEATURES

If you’ve gone to an exhibition for Harry Potter and/or The Lord of the Rings, you probably think you know the drill by now. What you’re NOT accounting for are the boatload of unique interactive features that make this stand out, even for people who are not super familiar with the series (you know, in case you bring a mostly clueless friend or parent along!)

INTERACTIVE AUDIO DEVICE
When you enter the exhibition, you’ll be given a handy cell phone sized device. It seems like it’s just an audio guide, but there’s lots to do with it! Namely, it finds “Hidden Spots” throughout the exhibit that unlock deleted scenes and show how the props in front of you. They also pull up holographic maps, allow you to take pictures, and give you a special ally with whom you can explore!

POLLING STATIONS

Every here and there, you’ll find polling stations that ask how you would react in certain Hunger Games style situations. Turn the lever and your vote is counted– a pellet falls into a glass cylinder. Then you can examine the cylinders to see how your vote compares to others.

THE TRAIN TO THE CAPITOL
Be prepared for your photo op! Get cozy in the back of the train to the Capitol, where Katniss and Peeta worked out their tentative friendship in Catching Fire, and snap a pic! Built-in screens give the illusion that you too are headed to the Capitol.

Kait with Adam from HG Fireside Chat and Brittany from Down With The Capitol

Kait with Adam from HG Fireside Chat and Brittany from Down With The Capitol

INTERVIEW WITH CAESAR
Caesar Flickerman is one hell of an interviewer, even when his head is a television screen! You can stop and have a photo op with The Capitol’s favorite television host but be warned, those fancy seats are really hard to sit upright in!

Also, it's hard to get his face to show up at certain angles!

Also, it’s hard to get his face to show up at certain angles!


FIGHT TRAINING

Think you got the moves? A movie stunt coordinator is ready to test them! See how well you can learn and bust out a quick defensive sequence used in the films. It’s harder than you think!

JOIN THE MOCKINGJAY’S PROPO
A special station in the Mockingjay section of the museum allows you to choose your setting and record a propo message in support of the Rebellion! Your image will then show up on the big ol’ HD TV screen behind you.

YOUR VERY OWN TRIBUTE PARADE

It’s your turn to join the Tribute Parade! Instead of explaining, here’s a video of me and Down With The Capitol’s Ellie making fools of ourselves for good old fashioned fun! Shelve it under “So horrible that it’s actually kind of amazing.”

THE GIFT SHOP

At the end of the road, we hit the gift shop!

Like most, there’s lots of items in here that seem a bit random, like mints and “Capitol confections” that are just regular candies bottled up pretty. But there’s also some really awesome stuff, exclusive mug and t-shirt designs, Buttercup plushes, Tim Palen’s new photo book, and jewelry ranging from simple ($5 arrow ring) to “SERIOUSLY.. WHO THROWS AROUND MONEY LIKE THAT?!”($7400 diamond encrusted gold Mockingjay pendant necklace.)

Disappointing news– the Katniss Cowl is in the gift shop, but it costs $130. Yup, the mass produced version is just as much as (if not more than) most Etsy sellers. We just want to own a Katniss Cowl and still pay off our student loan debt in a timely fashion, Lionsgate!

For a small fortune, all this can be yours!

For a small fortune, all this can be yours!

And so ends our adventure. If you’re a Hunger Games lover and you’re heading to New York City this year, we highly recommend it!

Want more images? Check out our full gallery!

GALLERY: The Hunger Games Exhibition

You’ve probably noticed that there’s been lots of goodness from The Hunger Games Exhibition all around the web, including over on our Instagram page. Now, we’re sharing all the photos from our Hunger Games Exhibition with you!

If you like these glimpses, stay tuned for a detailed report on the super fun exhibition!

Looking Through Tim Palen’s Photographs from The Hunger Games

Today Tim Palen’s Photographs from The Hunger Games became available. Even as a super fan, I was on the fence about this purchase with the $75 list price, but when I saw it in person I had to take the plunge.

imageThis is a hefty, gorgeous book, filled with large beautiful pictures from the first three movie campaigns (or to be more fair, 3.5 movie campaigns) and explanations of the creative choices behind them in the introduction. As the title indicates, the photos are the focus – specifically character portraits, with movie and Suzanne Collins’ book quotes interspersed throughout the pages.

For The Hunger Games, we see alternate shots of the characters with their eyes closed, as well as different takes on released promotional images. For Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1, we again see the familiar images from posters and other promotional images with unreleased versions or additional character shots.  Some of the unreleased images from Mockingjay Part 1 are staggering.
imageWhat about Mockingjay Part 2? Well, as anticipated, there’s not that much you haven’t seen. There’s no Katniss in that mysteriously red Mockingjay outfit that we’ve been hearing about from CineEurope. Nope, nothing new. Unless you mean the several new pictures of Peeta (one in a hospital gown and several in battle gear) and one of Gale crying in the style of the “Sister’s Portrait.”

Oh, yeah, I guess those count. You might like those. A lot.

This book is clearly a collectable item at the size and price tag. I think the best way to decide if it’s worth it to you is to see the book in person, either at an Assouline bookshop or the Hunger Games Exhibition Gift Shop (it should be available more widely in about a month). My only twinge of regret is that I wish this were released next year so that the Mockingjay Part 2 section could be more complete.

Every book needs to leave room for a sequel?
JJ

Creating a Fun-Filled Panem, in Dubai?

There were lots of funny pranks pulled throughout the fandom last week in celebration of April Fools, however there was one legit piece of news that was real, but it ALMOST sounded like a joke.  The Hunger Games Theme Park Attraction – It’s happening. In Dubai.

dubaiWhen the news came out on March 31, we knew it wasn’t a joke, because Lionsgate executives have said on multiple occasions that they were exploring opportunities to add the Hunger Games as a theme park attraction. It will be a part of a larger Hollywood theme park, Motiongate Dubai. According to the press release, it will “feature state-of-the-art theme park attractions and a retail facility inspired by … The Hunger Games franchise.” Not much in the way of details beyond that were released, other than it would be located in Dubai and another Lionsgate movie property, Step Up, will also be a part of the attractions when it opens in October 2016.

We’ve been very wary of this theme park idea all along and nothing about the announcement has changed our perspective on it. The Hunger Games costume exhibitions and the upcoming touring Exhibition starting this summer in New York have focused on showing how the books have been turned into movies. They’re basically extensions of the behind the scenes goodies of a Blu-ray, and we like that. The word “theme park attraction” invites broader world-building that could be problematic if not handled with care. So what are they going to do? Will this be some amped up version of the Samsung-sponsored Comic Con event last year, complete with Capitol Gallery and a Capitolized Peeta’s Bakery? District 12 themed rides? An arena?????

Ok, we need to stop thinking of the possibilities cause this is just getting dark and we’re probably just thinking of the worst possible scenarios. After all, remember this passage from The Hunger Games when Katniss is about to enter the arena?

Arenas

They wouldn’t do that, right? No. No, they couldn’t. THEY WOULD NOT DO THAT. True, these books/movies are just stories, so if they created an arena attraction no one would have truly died there. But it would definitely be creepy and way too “Capitol” for us to fathom.

Even if they don’t make the “attraction” an arena, placed in the context of the super-wealth of Dubai, there’s a lot of ways for this to be way too Capitol for our tastes. But then again, us three American women of Victor’s Village are clearly not the intended visitors for this attraction. I spent a week in Dubai in 2011, and while it was a fascinating experience, I’m certainly not taking that long of a journey again simply to go to a theme park when there are plenty of other places still to visit in the big, beautiful world. The Hunger Games attractions will draw in people who live closer to the geographic area, people who were planning to visit Dubai anyway for the larger theme park experience, or people visiting to gawk at the fabulous buildings and ski slope inside a mall.

We just hope they keep the story’s themes top of mind when putting this all together, otherwise it’s going to be really awkward and gross.

We really don’t want this to get awkward and gross.

JJ