The Hunger Games is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction–adventure film directed by Gary Ross and based on Suzanne Collins’s 2008 novel of the same name. It is the first installment in The Hunger Games film series and was produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik, with a screenplay by Ross, Collins, and Billy Ray. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland. The story takes place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future in the nation of Panem, where a boy and a girl from each of the nation’s 12 Districts are chosen annually as “tributes” and forced to compete in The Hunger Games, an elaborate televised fight to the death. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her younger sister’s place, and with her district’s male tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), travels to the Capitol to train and compete in the games.
Development of The Hunger Games began in March 2009 when Lions Gate Entertainment entered into a co-production agreement with Color Force, which had acquired the rights a few weeks earlier. Collins collaborated with Ray and Ross to write the screenplay. The screenplay expanded the character of Seneca Crane to allow several developments to be shown directly to the audience and Ross added several scenes between Crane and Coriolanus Snow. The main characters were cast between March and May 2011. Principal photography began in May 2011 and ended in September 2011, with filming taking place in North Carolina.
The film was released on March 21, 2012, in some European countries and in the US and UK on March 23, 2012, in both conventional theaters and digital IMAX theaters. Japan received it last, on September 28. When the film was released, it set records for opening day ($67.3 million) and opening weekend for a non-sequel. At the time of its release, the film’s opening weekend gross ($152.5 million) was the third-largest of any film in North America. It is the first film since Avatar to remain in first place at the North American box office for four consecutive weekends. The film was a massive box-office success by grossing over $694 million worldwide against its budget of $78 million, making it the third-highest-grossing film in the United States and ninth-highest-grossing film of 2012. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 18, 2012. With 7,434,058 units sold, the DVD was the best-selling DVD of 2012. The second installment, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was released on November 22, 2013, in the United States.
The Hunger Games received positive reviews from critics, with praise for its themes and messages, as well as Jennifer Lawrence‘s portrayal of Katniss; some criticism was levelled at the film’s reliance on shaky cam, especially in the action sequences, and its similarities to other works. The film’s soundtrack featured the song “Safe & Sound“, which was sung by American singer Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars; it won a Grammy Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. For her performance, Lawrence won the Saturn Award for Best Actress, the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress in an Action Movie, the Empire Award for Best Actress and was also nominated for the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress.
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. Part twisted entertainment, part government intimidation tactic, the Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. The world will be watching.