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Move over 'Twilight'? A beginner's guide to 'The Hunger Games'

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With the curtain coming down on Harry Potter this summer and Twilight set to end in 2012, all eyes are trained on Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games to see if it can make the transition from literary phenomenon to hit movie franchise.

Ahead of today's (November 14) big trailer debut, Digital Spy presents a beginners' guide to author Suzanne Collins's post-apocalyptic world.

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games


Panem
The name given to a reformed North America, Panem is run from a city called the Capitol by a totalitarian government. A failed attempt by the population against their tyrannical leaders led to the start of the Hunger Games as punishment against the people. The tournament sees children selected at random to participate in a televised fight to the death.

Districts
Panem is split off into 12 different Districts, each specialising in supplying the country with resources (e.g. mining, textiles, transportation and power). Two children from each district, a boy and a girl, are chosen by lottery to compete in the Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, both from District 12, are selected as 'tributes' to battle in the first Hunger Games novel and movie.

Katniss Everdeen
The 16-year-old heroine of the series, Katniss steps forward to replace her younger sister Prim in the TV battle. After the death of her father, Katniss develops strong protective instincts and proves to be a dab hand with a bow and arrow and as a hunter.

Oscar-nominated Winter's Bone star Jennifer Lawrence will play Katniss in the movie adaptation. At 21, the actress is older than the character was originally envisioned but has the full support of author Collins.

"Suzanne saw every single audition. And not only did Suzanne not have an issue with Jen's age, she felt you need someone of a certain maturity and power to be Katniss," said director Gary Ross.

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games


The likes of Chloe Moretz, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Roberts, Kaya Scodelario, Emily Browning and Shailene Woodley were all said to be in the running to play Katniss.

The love triangle
Katniss's friends Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) vie for her affections throughout the series, with Peeta declaring his love for her in the first book/movie. Gale helps train Katniss for the Hunger Games, while the first story features a hugely dramatic moment between Katniss and Peeta.

So, are you Team Gale or Team Peeta?

A closer look at Luke Hemsworth's Gale Hawthorne.
Josh Hutchinson in The Hunger Games


Supporting cast
Among the key supporting players of The Hunger Games are:
  • Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) - A pink-haired chaperone for District 12.
  • Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) - A former District 12 games victor who mentors Katniss and Peeta.
  • Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) - A flamboyant stylist who dresses Katniss for the tournament ceremonies.
  • Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) - A veteran Capitol journalist who reports on the Hunger Games.
  • President Snow (Donald Sutherland) - The president of Panem.
> The Hunger Games character posters - picture gallery

Success and sequels
Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (published in 2008) has more than 16 million copies in circulation in the US alone and spawned sequels Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010).

Lionsgate paid big bucks for the movie rights and plans to adapt the trilogy into four movies. Like Harry Potter and Twilight before it, the final book will be split into two movies. Jon Feltheimer, Lionsgate's co-chairman and chief executive officer, recently admitted that The Hunger Games needs to hit the $100 million mark at the US box office to get the ball rolling on a sequel.

Famous fans
Many young stars - including Chloe Moretz and Hailee Steinfeld - professed their love for The Hunger Games as the movie ramped up for production. "I read all of the books," Moretz said. "I'd die to play Katniss. It's such a cool role."

However, two titans of the literary world have confessed to being huge fans of the series: Stephenie Meyer and Stephen King.

Stephenie Meyer

© Chris Pizzello/AP/Press Association Images

Stephen King

© PA Images / Mark Lennihan/AP



The Hunger Games opens on March 23, 2012.

Watch a Hunger Games teaser video below:



Does The Hunger Games excite you more than Twilight? Leave your thoughts in the Facebook comments below!

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