A mainstay of Comic-Con in years past has been the fan-friendly Twilight panels. That series has come to a close, but Lionsgate picked up the baton this year by hosting a highly anticipated Hall H panel for the sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It became clear that this panel was very much about pleasing the fans, but we did get a look at the new trailer and director Francis Lawrence and his cast, including Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth took the stage to talk about character developments in the follow-up, Oscar season, having so many newcomers on set, working with author Suzanne Collins, and more.
Hit the jump to read my full recap of the Comic-Con panel for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Moderator Dave Karger introduced director Francis Lawrence, Willow Shields, Lenny Kravitz, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Francis Lawrence said it’s a dream cast and a dream story, and he had a lot of fun with the film.
Katniss’ challenges in Catching Fire:
Jennifer Lawrence said that Katniss is suffering PTSD from the games, and now Peeta understands a part of her that Gale never will.
The love triangle:
Hutcherson said that it’s very complicated, as Peeta expressed his strong feelings and he’s now come to find that “it was an act.” Lawrence corrected him by saying, “it was complicated.”
Hemsworth said that it took three days to film his torture scene.
Interacting with Suzanne Collins:
Right after Francis got the job, he flew out to meet with Collins to get together and go through the book. They began the “beat sheet” for the film’s screenplay after going through the book together.
They then rolled the new trailer, which you can watch right here. Lawrence seems to have adopted a more controlled camera style, and I like that they’re still holding back in showing the new arena.
How did the finished film compare to the movie Lawrence had in his head?
Francis Lawrence said that he’s very pleased with the emotional scale of the movie and the way the world has come together and how it looks. We see more of the other districts and the capitol.
Kravitz—essentially emoting coolness—described Cinna as “a really cool cat.”
Joining the cast as newcomers:
Wright said that the reason you make movies is you want people to see them, and the books established “a voracious appetite” for these movies and expectations. He said it could have been intimidating, but he found it easy because a great foundation had already been laid.
Malone said it was fun because the newcomers outnumbered the returning cast members, so there was a lot of new blood. The big initiation was “being let in on all these inside jokes.”
Did Oscar season feel like the victory tour?
Jennifer Lawrence said, “I mean the stakes weren’t as high.” She remembers reading the first book and seeing Katniss feeling uncomfortable in new clothes and with makeup and all the attention, which mirrored her first Oscar experience, and Katniss returning to the familiar Victors world was similar to her Silver Linings Playbook Oscar experience.
A slobbery kissing scene between Katniss and Peeta:
Jennifer Lawrence and Hutcherson recounted some takes from a kissing scene in which Lawrence had a lot of snot coming out of her nose that connected with Hutcherson’s mouth. When they pulled away the snot made a string that connected the two. Lawrence and Hutcherson were really funny in recounting the story.
Jeffrey Wright said that Lawrence and Hutcherson “are the funniest pair,” saying that their chemistry made it really comfortable for all the new people on set.
The difference between working on big budget films and independent fare:
Lawrence believes there’s something to be said for having too much money. She said that when you don’t have very much money you have to work really hard to make the day and get all of your shots. On big studio films, it’s more laid-back, “but the food is much better.” She noted, however, that more money allows the filmmakers to tackle a larger vision.
Hutcherson said the big studio movies give them opportunities to do smaller movies. He added that he wants to eventually direct, so working on Hunger Games has been a great experience.
While I understand that the main draw for The Hunger Games panel was to give fans the chance to interact with the actors, I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get any footage beyond the new trailer, which is already available online. Jennifer Lawrence was unsurprisingly charismatic and she has some great chemistry with Hutcherson, but Francis Lawrence didn’t talk much about how he approached the material when he took over as director. The footage in the trailer was impressive, I just would’ve liked to have seen a full scene in the context of the film.