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Comic-Con 2013: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Panel

The Hunger Games Catching Fire Comic-Con 2013
Lionsgate

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘ brings back Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson for another round in the arena. But before we get to see the sequel to the 2012 hit, Lionsgate featured the Francis Lawrence-directed film in its lineup of Comic-Con 2013 panels.

‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ follows Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, coming off their win in the 74th annual Hunger Games, a brutal, fight-to-the-death tournament that pits teen Tributes against each other. As the pair embark on their Victory Tour to celebrate their triumph in the arena, they soon realize the Capitol isn’t done with them and find themselves once again preparing to enter a more deadly Hunger Games with more deadly opponents.

The crowd went wild as director Francis Lawrence and stars Willow Shields, Lenny Kravitz, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence entered the hall.

“My first day … we were doing scenes with Philip Seymour Hoffman,” said Francis. “It’s a dream cast and a dream story.”

“[Katniss’] life is very different now,” said Jennifer. “She’s suffering from post-traumatic stress from the Games” and is experiencing something with Peeta that she can’t share with Gale, him having never been in the Games. This love triangle is getting more complicated in the new film. It’s complicated for Peeta to work out his feelings, says Hutcherson.

“I interacted with Suzanne [Collins] quite a bit,” said Francis. “She’s been a big part of the process.”

Now it’s time for the debut of the new ‘Catching Fire’ trailer, which finally gives us our first look at the water-based arena, though it only lasts for moments at the end. Mostly what’s new are the looks at most of the new victors/tributes for the upcoming Quarter Quell, including Sam Claflin’s Finnick (who was worried he wasn’t going to be portrayed as much as a sex god as the part required), Malone and some of the lesser-known new casting additions.

Now, this might come as some sad news for fans, but one character may or may not bite the dust in this new installment. “Cinna is a real cool cat, “ said Kravitz. “He has a lot of interest in Katniss as a friend, someone who believes in her and cares for her. … You see how they evolve ‘till his very last scene.”

Now for Malone, who is one of the new casting additions, it was both intimidating and like winning a golden ticket. “We were coming in as young blood, but there were so many of us. We sort of outnumbered them,” said Malone. Coming off the last book, “everything is flipped on its head.”

Though “the stakes weren’t as high,” Jennifer sees a couple of similarities between the Oscars and the Hunger Games. At first, she remembers, it felt like a world she didn’t quite fit into, though it was thrust upon her. “At times you are afraid for your life … not really.”

For those wondering, things between Katniss and Peeta will heat up quite a bit. As Jennifer says, there was one scene that she doesn’t believe made it into the movie – during a resuscitation scene, Jennifer lifts up her head to reveal a string of snot connecting her nose to Hutcherson’s mouth. So, yeah, “very sexy,” she says.

But that wasn’t by any means the most challenging part of production. “My wedding dress was my favorite to look at. Wearing it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.” As she says, “I’m not good at walking in giant dresses, as you know,” referencing her trip on the Oscar stage. “I love it because it was understated … that was sarcasm.”

Elsewhere, she encountered some problems with the physical training she had to endure to prepare. “I had a lot of archery training and a lot of running training because I can’t run. I run weird,” she said. “And then there’s something called free running … which obviously I didn’t become an expert at.” But what was her most difficult stunt? “Probably just basic running … and trying not to hit myself in the face with my bow.”

But, for those wondering, “No, there was no dieting,” said Lawrence. “I ran around a lot and I ate a lot.”

‘Catching Fire’ stars unites Lawrence and Hutcherson with both new (Sam Claflin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright) and returning stars (Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland) and hits theaters this November 22. The third ‘Hunger Games’ installment, ‘Mockingjay, Part 1,’ premieres November 1, 2014 and ‘Part 2′ hits November 20, 2015.

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