We can hardly believe it, but just a year ago "The Hunger Games" had no release date, no cast, no trailer and certainly no nail polish line to speak of. In 2011, though, the world became Panem, and when we fans think back on this year, these are the things we'll remember most.
Do you agree with our list? Share your thoughts and memories in the comments section below.
Jennifer Lawrence Is Katniss!
The movie's cast filled out (agonizingly) slowly this spring. Rumors of Hailee Steinfeld and Chloe Moretz filled the early months of the year, so we were all a little shell-shocked when we finally learned that Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence would be our Katniss. Fans were even more surprised by the choices of Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth as Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne, respectively. Other additions were met with glee, though, like Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy and Donald Sutherland for President Snow. Then came the long, arduous process of Tribute casting announcements on the "Hunger Games" Facebook page and released the Tribute additions one district at a time. It was an exhausting (read: awesome) few weeks for sure.
Poster on Fire
So far, we've had three major poster reveals for "The Hunger Games" and each has been an event in itself, but none have been quite like the first one. The studio released a simple but clever animated poster showing the infamous Mockingjay Pin catching fire and it set our hearts all kinds of aflutter. The second release was a set of eight character posters which offered a first look at some of our favorite characters, including Rue. Then, a one sheet poster was unveiled in another social media smash fashion which required fans to scour the web for 100 pieces of the puzzle. We had piece #99 of the bunch, but fans didn't have to wait too long until the full thing came around and reminded us, with great tagline phrasing, that "the world will be watching" indeed.
J.Law owned the MTV Video Music Awards this year when she dished out the first teaser footage for "The Hunger Games" even though it was only a few seconds. We held our breath as we first saw her dashing through the flaming woods, dodging fireballs and running for dear life. Then, in November, we finally got to see the full theatrical trailer for the film and dissect the stuffing out of it. We're still left with a ton of questions but one thing's for sure – March can't get here fast enough.
A Tale of Two Mockingjays
One big news item had us all jabberjay-ing this year: talk of a fourth "Hunger Games" film. When we heard studio execs mention this, we knew it had something to do with splitting "Mockingjay" into two films — much like "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" have with their final installments — but we weren't quite sure how they'd pull it off. In fact, we still aren't, but we're not complaining about a little extra time with our favorite characters.
Catching the Promotional Bug
It didn’t take long for "The Hunger Games" to become the topic du jour in interviews with the cast, and soon enough, Hollywood's newest "It Kids" found themselves plastered on multiple covers of Entertainment Weekly and grouping together for Vanity Fair. We loved hearing about how much Lawrence loves archery and how connected Hutcherson feels to Peeta off-screen. Naturally, all of the attention is only a preview for the madness that’s likely to come these guys' way, but, for now, it's just fun to see how jolly they all are about the process.
When set security got tight and we were all patiently waiting for the next snippet of news, it was fan-made fun which filled the void. Whether it was designers sketching out their costume ideas for Katniss' Fire Dress or watching "The Hunger Games with Barbies," oodles of imagination went into keeping us entertained. We even threw our own hat in that bucket by reimagining Katniss as a "South Park" character.
The Capitol Continues to Play With Us
For those of us who were really paying attention to the "The Hunger Games" on the web this year, TheCapitol.pn served as a fun little mystery. The website, which popped up out of nowhere and looked like a snowed out TV screen at first, slowly came together to become an interactive "Hunger Games" community site, decked out like a spy server and chock full of factoids about the various fictional districts. It was intriguing enough to distract us all from Pottermore for a bit, and that’s really saying something.
News Catching Fire
Before we even got glimpse at any actual footage from "The Hunger Games," news of the second movie, "Catching Fire," was already (ahem) catching fire. Lionsgate, probably reeling from all the attention its new sure-to-be-hit-series was getting at the outset, went ahead and set a release date for the sequel: Nov. 22, 2013. That's a full year and a half after the March 23, 2012, debut of the first film, but the screenplay is currently in the works. Still, this news shows a support for the future franchise we can really get behind.
The Oddball Merchandise Parade Begins
Merchandise licensing can be a very lucrative avenue for film studios and Lionsgate has already begun rolling out its "Hunger Games" swag – some pieces stranger than others. From strategy games to officially licensed water and nailpolish, it's clear that there'll be no stone left unturned in finding out exactly what "Hunger Games" fans are really craving in the way of take-home goodies.
Next week in District 14... Tributes! We want to hear YOUR thoughts on the latest "Hunger Games" soundtrack news. What do you think of Taylor Swift's "Safe and Sound?" Do you have any predictions as to where the song might fit into the story? Also, what do you think of the other artists announced for the album so far (Win Butler, The Decemberists and Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire)? Sound off in the comments below or tweet us @NextMovie with the hashtag #THGstdk.
Amanda Bell is a young adult book-to-film enthusiast and has made a name for herself as a fan-friendly, informative and dependable source. In addition to being the District 14 columnist for NextMovie, she runs the popular Twilight Examiner column. Keep tabs on her on Twitter.