The list of major blockbusters left to arrive in 2013 grows shorter and shorter with each passing weekend (especially, now that awards season is getting underway), but The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – the highly-anticipated followup to last year’s lucrative movie adaptation of author Suzanne Collins’ first Hunger Games novel – is one of the major titles remaining on that list.

Some things have changed for the franchise in the year and a half that has passed since co-writer/director Gary Ross’ Hunger Games film opened big in theaters, demonstrating that the success of the best-selling young adult books-turned movie franchise Twilight wasn’t just a fluke. Katniss Everdeen herself, Jennifer Lawrence, is now an Oscar-winner (for Silver Linings Playbook); more importantly (from a creative standpoint), the series is now being guided by director Francis Lawrence, who has finished his work on Catching Fire and is now preoccupied with directing both Part 1 & 2 of the finale, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth on set with director Francis Lawrence

That is to say: seeing how Lawrence – whose directorial features to date include Constantine, I Am Legend and Water for Elephants – is set to steer the Hunger Games movie boat from hereon out until the ride is over, you might be interested in hearing some of his thoughts about the second installment, Catching Fire, and the series in general. We’ll begin with his feelings about the stellar cast for these films – including, mainstays like Jennifer Lawrence and new additions for Catching Fire (such as Philip Seymour Hoffman) – as he expressed them during a recent interview with NY Magazine:

“If you can have Philip Seymour Hoffman, get Philip Seymour Hoffman! And he loved the books, so he signed on. Same with Jeffrey Wright. Same with Julianne [Moore signing on for ‘Mockingjay’]. If you can just get those amazing actors, then that’s 80 percent of my job.”

Lawrence could’ve made an identical about the choice of screenwriters for Catching Fire, with Oscar-winners Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) being the people who were hired to adapt Collins’ source material. The director, for his part, decided to shoot certain portions of Catching Fire using IMAX cameras, so as to better capture the expanded scope and complexity of the second Hunger Games novel (among other reasons, naturally).

Speaking of filming style: will there be lots of herky-jerky camerawork in Catching Fire, like there is in Ross’ movie? Well, Lawrence said:

“No! [Laughs.] No shaky cam. I think a lot of people will be happy to hear that.”

Ross’ choice of cinematography on Hunger Games – a means to express how over-whelming the film’s events were for Katniss and her fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) – served an artistic purpose, but there’s no denying that it’s one of the film’s more controversial aspects. Another element of the film that aroused some anger from many of the original books’ fans was the way it handled the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) – something that Francis Lawrence agreed, could stand to be improved in the sequel.

In fact, when the interviewer for NY Magazine stated that “The first film skimped a little on showing us the strategy behind the Katniss-Peeta love story,” the Catching Fire director replied:

“I felt the same. I felt the love story in general was, um, a bit buried in the first one. I wanted to bring the love story to the surface. And when I say love story, I mean the triangle.”

Now, before anyone who hasn’t read the Hunger Games books misunderstands and panics about the movie sequel becoming more Twilight-like (read: saccharine), bear in mind: assuming the film’s trailers are a proper indication, then Catching Fire should continue to explore how Katniss and Peeta’s relationship is first and foremost a means for survival (not so much anything to do with romance). In fact, as Lawrence noted, there’s potential for the sequel to do a better job with that aspect of the story than its predecessor managed.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens in theaters on November 22nd, 2013.

Source: NY Magazine