So there’s good news and there’s bad news for The Hunger Games. Which do you want first? I always like starting with something positive, so that when you hear the bad news it doesn’t seem that bad. So here the good part: Philip Seymour Hoffman has officially signed on to play Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Head Gamemaker. He was offered the role way back in June, but did not actually attach himself to the project until now. Heavensbee is replacing Gamemaker Seneca Crane (played by Wes Bentley), who will not be returning to run anything after letting Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) make the Capital people look like fools.
I have to say, I’m really glad that he will be Plutarch Heavensbee – who is a crucial part of the next two books. As an Oscar winning actor (for Capote), Hoffman will bring a lot to a relatively small role. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of that behind-the-games stuff that was shown in the first Hunger Games, because I actually enjoyed the few extra scenes. Getting a glimpse of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Gamemaker Seneca Crane added some thing to the tale. With Hoffman behind the role, this tradition will probably continue – though hopefully not to excess. The one movie that I really remember Philip Seymour Hoffman for is Red Dragon, where he plays the asshole tabloid reporter Freddy Lounds with a wonderful cold-hearted sneer. He’s definitely perfect for the role of Head Gamemaker.
Now along with announcing Hoffman’s role, Lionsgate also released an official plot synopsis for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. If you’ve read the book then it’s old news, but it does a good job of talking about what’s coming next without spoiling it for people who haven’t done the homework. I’m terrible at doing this because it’s actually a little hard for me to separate the different plot points for the two books, due to the fact that I read them both so fast. Here’s Lionsgate’s version (from Moviehole):
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.
It certainly will change things forever. Things are going to get really exciting. Jena Malone has already been cast as a tribute in the next games, Johanna Mason. We’re still waiting for the other popular tribute Finnick Odair to be chosen, and rumors have been flying about who is in the running. Until we hear that bit of casting news we have the Blu-ray/DVD release of The Hunger Games to look forward too. We have been given a little trailer about the special features available on the disc, and it looks incredibly cool. See for yourself:
I can delay the suspense for no longer, it’s time for the bad news. It has now been made official that The Hunger Games will be splitting up the last book, Mockingjay, into two movies. Following the tradition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and my least favorite movie of all time The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Mockingjay will now have two whole films to spread it’s wings. The problem with this? I really don’t think the decision is motivated by literary concerns but financial ones. Mockingjay doesn’t have to be put into two movies, in fact I can’t recall a specific place where the story can be cut in half successfully. When Harry Potter announced that we would be making two trips to the big screen out of one book, I knew exactly where they should place the divide (and I ended up being exactly right… they cut the movie in the place I guessed). When Twilight announced they were making two more movies… I groaned and banged my head against the wall, wishing that they would make the insanity stop.
I suppose I will have to re-read Mockingjay, in order to find a good place where the action can stop. Because it certainly does have a lot of action. I remember flying through the pages, hungry for more. While taking a few hours to read a book that’s a good thing. When you have to wait a year in between movies that can be a very bad thing. Hopefully they won’t have to resort to adding a bunch of pointless scenes in order to fill out both films. That’s my worst fear, that instead of delivering the action-packed an somewhat stream-lined punch that was successful in The Hunger Games, that the last two will turn out like my least favorite Harry Potter movie (Goblet of Fire, where they added a freaking long Dragon fighting scene but cut out some of the other better parts). Keep your fingers crossed that Lionsgate is trying to do more than just make money, but is actually committed to bringing fans a great experience. Mockingjay Part 1 is scheduled for release November 21st, 2014 and Part 2 will be coming November 2oth, 2015. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is set to premiere November 22, 2013, and is being directed by Francis Lawrence.
What do you think of all this news? Are you happy with Philip Seymour Hoffman joining the cast? How do you feel about Mockingjay being split in two?