The Hunger Games started life as a popular dystopian novel trilogy written for young adults, and soon became a blockbuster franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. The first film in the series made a whopping $694.4 million at the worldwide box office and catapulted the main cast to mainstream success. Meanwhile, the original novels have also proved hugely successful, and The Hunger Games came second only to the Harry Potter series in a poll of the top 100 teen novels of all time.
Despite the success of the franchise, there are still some things that fans of the series might not know about the production of the books and the films. We’ve compiled the handy list below to bring you ten things you (probably!) didn’t know about The Hunger Games…
1. Author Suzanne Collins had some strange inspiration for the novel trilogy
The author of the novels, Suzanne Collins, has said that her inspiration for The Hunger Games came to her whilst she was flicking through channels on TV! Collins kept on moving between reality TV and footage of the Iraq War, then came up with an idea to combine the two of them. Mindlessly flicking through television channels can be productive after all!
Whilst we’re on the subject, there are some people who feel that The Hunger Games is far too similar to a mainstream Japanese horror flick, Battle Royale, in which school children kill each other in a bloody game of survival. However, Collins maintains that the novel came to her whilst watching TV, and that she later incorporated elements of the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.
2. Kindle readers love annotating The Hunger Games trilogy!
Surprisingly, 19 out of the 25 most-highlighted quotes on Kindle are from The Hunger Games trilogy, and not your classics such as War and Peace or Oliver Twist! The number one most-highlighted quote is from the second book, Catching Fire, with 17,784 Kindle users deeming the following line worthy of underlining: “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.” The line is spoken by Katniss and in it she is actually referring to herself.
3. Director Francis Lawrence has a very interesting CV
Francis Lawrence was the director for Catching Fire, as well as parts one and two of Mockingjay. But it turns out that he wasn’t always a feature film director, and instead his CV features some very interesting past credits. In fact, over the years Lawrence has been responsible for directing a series of hit music videos, including Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’, Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World (Girls)’ and Avril Lavigne’s ‘Sk8er Boi’. That’s an interesting mix of projects right there!
4. Jennifer Lawrence gave Josh Hutcherson a concussion
Fans of the series will know that Lawrence and her co-star Josh Hutcherson – who plays Peeta – get on really well in real life and can often be found laughing and joking together during interviews. However, things haven’t always been so rosy between the pair. Lawrence accidentally gave Hutcherson concussion after she claimed that she would be able to kick all the way over the top of his head. Unfortunately for Hutcherson, she was dead wrong.
Judging from the photo below, the two friends probably got over the incident fairly quickly.
5. The film had a swear jar for any adults caught mouthing off in front of the child actors
On the set of The Hunger Games films, there was a real mix of adults and children. In order to try and prevent the air from turning blue, a swear jar was installed on the set of the first film to make sure that any adults who swore in front of kids wouldn’t do it again. According to director Gary Ross, Lawrence’s contributions probably made up about half of the total amount in the jar! He was quoted as saying: “She’s fantastic, but she swears like a sailor.”
As one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood, she can probably afford this particular bad habit.
6. Some critics claimed that the lead actors didn’t look as though they were ‘starving’ enough
Liam Hemsworth plays Gale in the series, and in real life he forms part of three brothers who have all gone into acting (the others being Chris and Luke). Older brother Chris apparently told Liam that he needed to lose weight to play Gale convincingly, as Gale is supposed to be starving in the books. Some critics also noted that Lawrence didn’t look thin enough for someone who had been deprived of food for days on end, but the actress didn’t shed any pounds for the role of Katniss.
7. Alexander Ludwig had to gain a lot of weight for his role as Cato
Alexander Ludwig has gone on to find fame as Bjorn Ironside in Vikings, but before that he played the ruthless tribute Cato from District 2 in The Hunger Games. He was 20 years old at the time of his appearance in the first film, and had to gain between 30 and 40 pounds in order to portray the highly-trained fighter. Cato is highly-skilled in spear throwing and acts as one of Katniss’ main adversaries in the story, so Ludwig had to make sure that he looked the part. We certainly appreciate the effort he put into becoming the character anyway…
8. Lawrence went deaf in one ear for months
Like Alexander Ludwig, Lawrence had to put in a lot of preparation for her role as leading lady Katniss, which saw her performing a lot of physical activities including archery, swimming and fighting. In a recent interview, Lawrence revealed that at one point during filming, she actually went deaf in one ear for months whilst filming Catching Fire. After getting ear infections from all the diving she was doing, a water jet from the Cornucopia ended up puncturing her ear drum and stopped her from hearing altogether. Ouch!
9. The first film contains over 1,200 CGI shots
Fans of the series will be interested to learn that there are an astonishing 1,200 CGI shots in the first film. Just to put that amount into perspective, that’s as many as some feature length animations, and even more than the fully-animated film The Tale of Despereux – which was directed by none other than Gary Ross, who also acted as director the first Hunger Games movie. That’s an impressive amount of CGI, but the stunning visual effects were worth it in the end – they definitely helped to catapult the films to blockbuster glory.
10. Some people in America tried to create a real-life Hunger Games…
Yes, in one corner of the world people thought it would be a good idea to try and create a real-life version of the fictional series. A summer camp in America set up a Hunger Games Summer Camp which promised any young applicants the chance to take part in a ‘real life version of the hunger games’. Somewhat predictably, the camp was swiftly closed down after participating children suffered injuries and began to fight one another, Lord of The Flies style.