‘Catching Fire’: 5 Things ‘The Hunger Games’ Sequel Needs To Do

Published 3 years ago by , Updated September 3rd, 2012 at 9:39 pm,

catching fire simon beaufoy ‘Catching Fire’: 5 Things The Hunger Games Sequel Needs To Do

Director Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games opened last weekend, crushing the competition at the box-office and coming in third for the largest opening weekend of all time – behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and The Dark Knight (#1 for the biggest non-sequel opening weekend). The questions on everyone’s mind now are: How far will this first installation in the franchise go? And will audiences remain as engaged when the sequel, Catching Fire, arrives?

Certainly, there is a built-in audience for this franchise, but those who have not read the Suzanne Collins series are already beginning to ask: What’s next?

Warning there are some small Catching Fire spoilers ahead:




It is now fairly common knowledge that Peeta and Katniss will return to the games in Catching Fire – the second book in Collins’ series. So having seen the first film, many are wondering how a return to the arena is possible (or interesting). There are certain elements that are native to the source material that make the setting for Catching Fire both complex and compelling – but there are adjustments that the team behind the film franchise can and should make to elevate the second movie in the series.

1. World Expansion:

Hunger Games Revolution ‘Catching Fire’: 5 Things The Hunger Games Sequel Needs To Do

The Hunger Games gave us a good overview of the nation of Panem. We were given a sense of how the districts function in relation to the Capitol, as well as the players involved in the political game of chess that is at hand. The Hunger Games themselves become analogous to the large measure of fear and the small measure of hope that President Snow was using to control the citizens of the districts, and the flashy distractions he utilized to manipulate those who reside in the Capitol.

But in order to keep our interest in Catching Fire there is going to need to be a richer and more detailed exploration into the universe in which the story takes place. A delving into the particulars of the sociopolitical structure is necessary both to capture the audiences attention and because it is primarily the circumstances in the country at large that drive the plot.

In our interview with Gary Ross, the director was reluctant to speculate in too much detail about the ultimate tone and scope of Catching Fire, though Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) is currently drafting the script. The director did concede however that the undertones that are hinted at in The Hunger Games become far more crucial as the franchise moves along.

“Obviously there’s much more political context in the subsequent two books even than there is in the first one, as Katniss becomes a symbol for this revolution. That sort of sinks roots and spreads through the countryside and the books by definition become more political, or gain more political context.”

That political context can only be made clear if we understand the dynamics of the nation in which the film takes place. One of the tricky elements of adapting even the first book was that, despite incessant comparisons to Battle Royale, the games themselves are not the ultimate point of the story.

hunger games jennifer lawrence josh hutcherson ‘Catching Fire’: 5 Things The Hunger Games Sequel Needs To Do

The games serve as the inciting incident, the thing that shakes the main character out of her comfort zone and sends her on a journey which will ultimately lead to a deepened understanding of herself and the world around her. The games, as mentioned, illustrate the socio-political dynamics of Panem. And the games test the moral and emotional limits of the characters, allowing us to understand who they fundamentally are as people. It is more what the games represent that is essential – rather than the events that take place in the arena itself.

The return to the games is a far different journey for both Katniss and Peeta in Catching Fire. Their goals are different, the circumstances that send them there are changed and in order to fully comprehend the choices that are made, we will need to have a firmer grasp on some of the historical events that created the Panem of the day as well as the current culture of the citizens.

The inherent challenge is that Gary Ross made a choice to maintain Katniss’ point of view throughout The Hunger Games, which in some ways constricts the ability to demonstrate the scope of the world. That isn’t to say that we never moved away from Katniss throughout the course of the film, it is only to say that when the film did move away from her it was always with the intent of propelling her story. If Ross cut to President Snow it was because he was talking about something relevant to Katniss. The same holds true for any of the other cut-aways that took place in the film.

There will be an opportunity in Catching Fire to either maintain or break that convention. If the production elects to remain tethered to the first person narrative, then some fairly intricate work will need to be done on the script in order for the audience to both understand and invest in the characters as the events (both in and out of the arena) unfold.

2. Sophisticated Visual Effects:

mutts the hunger games ‘Catching Fire’: 5 Things The Hunger Games Sequel Needs To Do

The setting for the “arena” itself is far more fantastical in Catching Fire than it was in The Hunger Games. The woods are replaced by an Island lush with color and filled with horror. The effects work in The Hunger Games was minimal and for the most part worked in the created world, but there were moments that were less effective for many audience members. The CGI on the “mutts” towards the end of the film read like video game characters to many viewers. In order for us to stay connected to the sense of urgency in the games the effects in Catching Fire are going to need to be sophisticated and believable. Many franchises (particularly young adult franchises) “cheat” in this area because they know they don’t really need expensive visual effects to draw in their audience – but Catching Fire is a story that could easily lose us if we don’t stay grounded in the world and connected to the consequences.

3. Up The Action Ante:

The Hunger Games has a record breaking box office debut ‘Catching Fire’: 5 Things The Hunger Games Sequel Needs To Do

The Cornucopia (the area where the tributes first enter the arena) payed off in The Hunger Games. It was a brutal, moving and emotionally effective scene – but we are going to need that tension sustained for a longer period of time in the next chapter. Some viewers craved a more visceral sense of danger in the latter portion of the games. Creating a sense of urgency and legitimate peril is a challenge in a film that has both a known outcome and requires a PG-13 rating. It is a delicate balance, but it is one that was achieved in at least one portion of the first film, and must be created for a longer stretch of time in the second in order to make a return to the Games worthwhile for the viewer.

4. Develop Katniss:

the hunger games poster ‘Catching Fire’: 5 Things The Hunger Games Sequel Needs To Do

We were introduced to Katniss in The Hunger Games, but if we are going to invest in where the story is taking her we are going to need to see far more of the complex creature that she is in the books. As Gary Ross mentioned, she becomes an unwitting symbol for a revolution. We must come to understand her as a person that has no interest in the finer points of politics, but that just by nature of the circumstances she finds herself in, becomes a leader. Katniss is a girl who has been honed in the struggle for survival and is, by her own admission, dangerous and violent. She is of course also compassionate, has integrity and is unwilling to suffer fools gladly. We need the full scope of her humanity or we will not believe that those around her would naturally follow her lead, or that she ultimately has no desire for them to do so.

5. Increase The Tension In The Love Triangle:

The Hunger Games is like Twilight ‘Catching Fire’: 5 Things The Hunger Games Sequel Needs To Do

Now this is one that some fans may not want to hear, but the truth is that if this franchise wants to keep its female audience (and believe me, the studio does) then this is an area that will need to continue to be nurtured. Some of the increased romantic emphasis is inherent in the novel but the final outcome will rely on the direction of the film. It will be important that the dialogue and tone capture the emotional essence but doesn’t veer so far afield in the sentiment that it alienates the audience members who tend to be less interested in that aspect of the story. Both Peeta and Gale have a strong role to play in the decisions that Katniss makes throughout the course of the story so the connection that she has with each of them needs to be clear and felt. It is a complex love that she experiences and therefor needs to be dealt with some nuance. Additionally, who she ultimately chooses and “why” reveals a great deal about her character.This is, as fans know, not Twilight where the central focus was the romance. The romance plays a role in The Hunger Games as well as the remainder of the trilogy, but it is not the singular, nor ultimately, most important portion of the tale.

Gary Ross did an admirable job of translating this first film for the screen and given The Hunger Games success it would be easy for the studio to expend the minimum level of effort on the sequel, banking on their built-in fan base to turn out. But if Ross (or whoever replaces him if by some strange set of circumstances he does not return) puts the same level of thought and passion into Catching Fire and its needs as was put into The Hunger Games, then we may be granted a rare case where the sequel outclasses the first film in a series.

The Hunger Games is in theaters now.

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    • Looks like you havent read mockingjay, you just said exactly what she does in it

      • Opps wrong thing to reply on, i meant to do the one above this

    • @DR. you have no tangible proof that she copied it either. Seriously, neither of us can say for certain wether she did or didn’t. I’m just saying that until I have proof of some kind, I’m going with what the author says about it. Ok, so you liked the movie. So what’s your problem then? And I did read the book (didn’t know there was a graphic novel version) and I saw the shitastic movie. I didn’t like either. You can doubt all you want, whatever.

      • Yea. Suzanne claims she never knew about Battly Royale…. And O.J. Simpson says he’s not guilty :) And you say you read Battle Royale but didn’t like it, then watched the movie? The movie did suck, but if you didn’t like the book then why the hell watch the movie? I wouldn’t even bother finishing the novel if I don’t like it. Thats like me saying ” I watched all the Twilight movies but hated them!” yea right why watch all of them!? lol I saw 1, didn’t like it and didn’t bother with the others.

        • DR. why did you change your name? Lol… um, yeah I guess you know everything don’t you? Yeah, I read the book and didn’t like it and then I watched the movie with a friend because he wanted to see it. I’m a pretty open minded person and thought “Hey maybe the movie won’t be so bad.” Also my friends and I regularly will watch movies depsite horrible ratings or whatever just to see it for ourselves. I wanted to see how some of it was portrayed. O and I have this things where I have to finish a book, no matter how much it sucks. I didn’t hate Battle Royale, just didn’t like it much. I’ve never not finished a book, no matter how sucky it was.

          Also your comment about seeing ALL of the twilight movies makes no sense. I’m talking about reading ONE book I didn’t care for and then seeing ONE movie adaptation. I didn’t then go see an entire series based on this book.

        • Because that’s what some people do, just because YOU don’t do it doesn’t make is unbelievable that other people do.

  1. What I said made perfect sence. Ur Just to much of a fool to understand :)

    • hahahahaha… that’s your response? Lol, your comments have now gone into the rediculously hilarious so all I can do is laugh. What you said made no sense. I guess we’re all fools except you? O well lol. Anyways thanks for the laughs and have a nice Easter if you celebrate it.

    • you make no sense just reading the comments on this page makes me shake my head. anyway great adaptation of the book

  2. I was thinking the other day that if you look at the 3 books as one story rather than think of each as a self contained story it would be easier to portray it in an effective way. This is because you don’t have to confine any one movie to a particular set of events. So all the things people might think the first movie lacks can be picked up later. There are plenty of methods both visual and story telling that can be brought to bear to achieve this.

    Having seen it twice now, I think it was actually a good idea not going full tilt on the tension and action. We need someplace for the sequels to go in those areas and we certainly have that now. For example They could have easily ramped up the tension in both the trackerjacker scene and the cave scene but left both simpler in presentation. The mutts is another example where Cato’s plight could’ve been exploited better, not when they were mauling him but rather when they would be driving him to the cornucopia. The ending would’ve had greater impact too if he would’ve been given a goal in the interview process that the audience could identify with.

    So while the story was well handled in what we saw what we didn’t see becomes important too, not just in having more story to fill out a fourth film but giving the overall story somewhere to go both action and tension wise as well…

  3. I think Catching Fire will be the decisive factor of how this franchise will be remembered. Failure to channel the book’s essence (and in my thoughts, especially Katniss’s vulnerability and fear – that was at some point a bit lost in THG) will seal lost of interests from none book readers and make the Mockingjay less appealing – say, like Prince Caspian to the Voyage of the Dawn Threader. Success on it would – if it’s as good as say Dead Man’s Chest, well – the only question would be would it end like At World’s End or Return of the King and make an epic Trilogy.

  4. I read the books and i agree the hunger games was missing something. They need to portray the relationships better with the characters and we need to see more of their world on film. But still have some of the magic from the books. I fell in love with this trilogy. If they do it right then it could be great. If they miss then it will flop.

  5. I don’t agree with #5 because some men don’t like too much romantic stuff in a movie. And both men and women enjoyed th hunger games because it had enough romance and action. And mostly women like twilight but not too many men though.

  6. No doubt the hunger games movie was good but it was turned to more of a kid movie then a young adult movie. From The hunger games book i read, the book showed more like it was intended for 17+^ . Don’t get me wrong the movie was great it was just missing a little more to make it a perfect movie. Hopefully catching fire is as great as the first,but better Especially where the action plays throughout the arena scenes. I’m 18

  7. Jovany mata: I saw the movie first before started reading the trilogy books. I even didnt know when watching the movie that this is based on series of books light Twilight or Harry Potter. But I really dont think the movie is for a kid than young adult. I know even many female adults in their 30s disliked the movie because it’s too cruel for them with the concept of Hunger Games. Since the book is more detailed, it’s even more cruel. I’m glad that the cruelty starts at half of the movie (and the book also) though.

    My first reaction after watching the movie is that it’s so – so until I found out after watching the movie that this will be the next Twilight in terms of ticket sales and decided to read the books. I fell in love with the books. And as a hard Twilight fan myself, I have to admit that The Hunger Games trilogy is way deeper than Twilight. It covers all aspects that Twilight does not have: politics, war, survival technics, martial arts, even electronics and fashion!

  8. I am a total Hunger Games fanatic and I honestly thought the movie was fine. I really enjoyed it and I felt that it mistake stayed true to the book, which is huge with me. Yes, there were a few things that were different but most were not significant. Anyway, if they do Catching Fire like the book is written, all will go fine. The cliff hanger at the end won’t hurt either.
    Also, the director is Lawerence. I Don’t remember his first name, but that should be updated.

  9. I personally think Ian Somerhalder, the dashing young man who plays Damien in “The Vampire Diaries”, would be the perfect Finnick Odair. His attitude in The Vampire Diaries is quite similar to the details of Finnick’s personality and physical features. If Ian, or an actor who has strong, striking features like Ian, won the role of Finnick, Catching Fire would probably be a greater hit.

  10. hey look at the pic when katniss and peeta are on the roof. does she know shes wearing a dress? why is she sitting like that then? i know peeta’s not a pervert but if you look at katniss from peeta’s position you can easily see her underwear.i kept looking at the picture wondering why they let her sit like that. i hope i’m not the only one who realized that.

  11. I read this book at the suggestion of my dad and brother since I find it hard to find a writing style I like, I was so impressed by this book I decided to go see the film and was so discussed by the way Lions Gate betrays the book (much in the same way that Disney Pictures ruins classics such as The Hunchback of Note Dame, Pocahontas, etc) that I left the theater after driving half way across town (and I live in a sizable metro area) because I could not stand one more minute of that hack of a film trying to pass itself off as The Hunger Games as it seemed very loosely based on the book of the same title although I witnessed the film changing many key points/plots from the way that they were in the book such as a golden cornucopia (book) to a silver squared off structure (film), it wasn’t until later that I had found out that the film had re-written the ending in a major way, I guess I shouldn’t of been surprised from that travesty of a film. I can understand that not all films are true to the books that they are to be based upon, such in the case of the Golden Compass, I hear; but what I can’t understand is why make another Hunger Games film if is is going to be as bad as the first?

  12. loose the shaky camera, it’s bad cinematography

    • There’s a reason why Gary Ross did that. I have the movie of the hunger games and i’m obsessed with it. At first I didn’t like the way the cameras were but i watched the special features and i’m not sure exactly what Gary Ross said, but he said something about that he didn’t want it like normal movies and that he wanted to make the cameras like that so its like you’re experiencing what ever Katniss was… lol i don’t know hahaha but it was some s*** like that.

  13. You guys know that Gary Ross isn’t directing the second movie, right?

  14. I just hope the movie will be as good as the book…

  15. i lov these books but lets not give the movie making company a hard time we as people need to be kind cause all we do is make others feel bad people are ruining others lives as we people sit here s critizise what there decision is let them decide and be happy with what they choose to do

  16. The movie was awesome, I enjoyed it, however, it strays from the book. The hunting around district twelve, where katniss actually gets the mockingjay pin (and later in the trilogy the meaning it will hold), peetas father’s visit after the reaping, THE MUTTS! how did they not add that in there, they made the mutts look like cat/dog/bear hybrids that were not nearly as terrifying as the were in the book. Those are minor compared to the lack of katniss’ point of view. Like I said, I loved the movie but I think they had so much to play with and they didn’t do everything they could have. Hopefully we get more of a sense of what katniss is feeling in catching fire. And I apologize for my horrible grammar, my phone is not doing so good right now :-)

  17. I see a lot of people talking about battle royale. This trilogy is not simply about throwing kids into an arena to fight to the death, it extends into a full on revolution throughout the nation. The hunger games are simply a start, say a spark to all of it. I guess you would have to read the books to fully understand. I can see where the comparison is though and can understand how someone who bases their opinion solely off the hunger games film would feel that way.

  18. I agree with a lot of what was said on this page. The filmakers need to pay more attention to the details if the book. The more I watch the first movie, the more I think it is really great, although it could have been alot better (although alotof the problems I had with it are because I’m such a fan of the book). But when watching it for the first time I was pretty annoyed at how it seemed to be rushing through everything, and while I understand that it cant be as detailed as the book, I do think that some scenes were perfectly written in the book and would have been easy to do the same way in the movie, but were changed or cut down- and therefore less effective in my opinion. The film would have been more effective with the character developmet and tension of the the story if it had been longer and more detailed and less rushed. I agree with what it says on this page about the romance aspect not being the central main aspect of the book. It is the romance that is built around the story, not the story built around the romance. But it is one of the main aspects of the story, and is just as important as aything else in the book. I felt they really rushed through that as well, alot of the dialogue in the book surounding Peeta and Katniss was a very imporant part of the reason why I loved the book and would have made the film alot better, and enhanced the significance of their relationship. It also disappointed me that this wasnt further explored in the first film because in my opinion the 2nd and especially the 3rd book really are aren’t nearly as good as the first book, especially in terms of the romance aspect (mainly Peeta and Katniss) (SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!!!! – At least the last film is split into two parts though- because I was pretty annoyed that in the last book peeta isn’t in it all that much- or when he is- alot of the time he’s not his proper self. I think this was an interesting thing to do with the character, but I don’t like how it goes on so long, and wouldn’t have hated it so much it if there had been another book or if the book had been alot longer. I hope they add in more of him in the films than the books). I think the first movie is brilliant, although I think should have been longer and paid more attention to detail, then it would have been amazing, and also the pg13 rating was uncalled for. I am so sick of everything being made so that kids can go and see them, even though they shouldnt and the books/films are for there age group in particualar. Where as Harry Potter has sense of being dark yet still somewhat suitable for kids. I dont think the Hunger Games should have even been considered anything of the sort. It should have been a fifteen( thats UK ratings, I’m not sure what the rating in between PG 13 and R in the USA is). It is certainly intended for an age group with the mid to late teens and early tewenties. So this is who it should have been made for. Hopefully this is another thing that the filmakers will do differently with the other films- especially becasue they do get darker as they go on. I think the fact that it is a different director and different screenwriters could be either a good thing or a bad thing though. I hope they don’t try and make it too different from the first film. The first film had a good overall concept or the books but just needed more content and detail.

  19. If they focus too much on the love triangle, they will lose what the Hunger Games is all about. Yes it is clear that there is Some tension but it’s more of a side story. The real focus should be on her need to prove herself to Snow, her love for her family, her vulnerability, her seriousness, and her inability to know who to trust. After all, she is a sixteen year old girl that had to grow up fast. She is still working on herself. The love isn’t what drew us in, it was her strength and commitment. The first movie was good, but yes there is some serious work that needs to be done on Catching Fire. I hope that it will really set the tone for Mockingjay part one and two. That’s one thing I am actually excited for. Mockingjay being two parts means that they can pay really good attention to detail. I was afraid at first it meant Mockingjay was ruined but it isn’t, it can make it better with the details.

  20. You should’ve finish the movie just like the book had an ending-_-