The Hunger Games: 10 Differences Between the Movie & the Book

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 25th, 2012 at 1:16 pm, This is a list post.

Hunger Games Book vs. Film Differences The Hunger Games has arrived in theaters. Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, the movie is an adaptation of the first in a trilogy of books written by Suzanne Collins. In adapting the book into a motion picture, it was inevitable that changes would be made: characters would be removed, dialogue would be edited out and certain scenes would be deleted. Fortunately, Collins - who has publicly praised the film - wrote the screenplay alongside director Gary Ross and writer Billy Ray (State of Play). With that in mind, The Hunger Games film captures much of the main story - but there are still numerous differences between the book and the movie, and we've come up with a list of 10 big differences between the two. If we're missing any major differences, please let us know in the comments section, and as always, "may the odds be ever in your favor." WARNING - THIS LIST CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUT THE FILM.

More Gale Hawthorne

In the book, Gale Hawthorne is Katniss Everdeen's best friend in District 12, the coal mining district on the outskirts of the country. The two hunt together and divide up the game that they catch. Although there's no overt romance in the relationship, Katniss continually evaluates her feelings for him. But when she is sent to compete in the games - where she faces off against 23 intense competitors - Gale is left behind. While Katniss thinks about him during the games, the story never shows him after the games begin. In the film, however, the first-person narrative is changed to a third-person narrative so viewers will see what Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is doing as his friend competes in the games. We watch as he desperately longs for Katniss and notices that she's developing an onscreen relationship with fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark....

Deaths Happen Faster

As the story progresses, many youngsters inevitably die in the Hunger Games. In the book, some of these deaths are prolonged, showing the perseverance some of these characters have in their final moments. For instance, in an early scene, Katniss makes camp near a young woman who starts a campfire. After the young woman is discovered, she is attacked and nearly killed by some of her fellow tributes. But when they discover that she's alive after the attack, Peeta is sent to finish the job. In the conclusion of the book, Cato - facing off against a group of mutant mutts - survives for several hours before Katniss puts him out of his misery. In the movie, however, these deaths are done quickly. It's possible that the deaths are abbreviated in order for the film to earn its PG-13 rating. But regardless, the film finds the bonfire girl dying quickly after she's attacked and Cato only suffering a few moments before Katniss ends his life.

No visit from Peeta's Father

Before she is sent to the Capitol to fight in the games, Katniss is visited by several of her loved ones. Gale, her mother and her younger sister come say good-bye to her. But, surprisingly, Peeta's father comes to visit as well and offers Katniss cookies. Although the local baker doesn't know Katniss well, he has always been kind to both her and her younger sibling, and this visit helps establish the connection between Peeta's family and Katniss. Later on - in a spout of possible paranoia - Katniss throws away the cookies. The film doesn't include these scenes at all. Most readers might not care about this exclusion but it stood out to me because these short sequences show a connection between Peeta's family and Katniss. Although the two don't know each other well, Peeta's father supported both Katniss and her younger sister by buying fresh meat and food from them. Plus, Peeta's parents have spoken to Peeta about Katniss - as Peeta notes in the story - even though Peeta and Katniss were never close.

The Connection with Rue

Rue is the youngest person in the hunger games. As a tribute from District 11, she is forced to compete with older teenagers that are much stronger than her. During the training sessions,  she developes an appreciation for Katniss and the two form an unlikely alliance in the games themselves. Katniss is particularly interested in protecting Rue because the young competitor reminds her of her younger sister. When Katniss' sister Primrose was chosen to compete, Katniss stood up to take her place, but no one volunteered to take Rue's place - so Katniss feels a certain solidarity with her. In the movie, the connection between Rue and Katniss' sister is largely glossed over. The two still form an alliance, of course, but Katniss' empathy for her is never fully discussed in the film.

The End of the Game Maker

Because the book is told in first-person and the movie is a third-person narrative, readers didn't get to meet some of the characters featured more prominently in the movie. For instance, the game maker - who plays a very limited role in the book - gets a lot of screen time. Wes Bentley (American Beauty) plays Seneca Crane as an overconfident genius who takes pleasure in setting up the games themselves. His game, however, falls apart in both the book and the movie, leading to a conclusion that has two tributes emerging from the battlefield, not one. Very little is made of this in the (first) book, but in the film, the game maker faces a great punishment for his failures. It isn't until the sequel book, Catching Fire, that the fate of the game maker is revealed - but in the movie, he is left in a room with only poison berries to eat. In the same way that he set death traps for others to fall into, he himself is sent into his own trap and forced to die for his failures.

The Dog Mutants

The Hunger Games movie Mutant dogs In what was presumably an effort to keep the film within the PG-13 rating range, a lot of The Hunger Games' horror (gruesome deaths, etc) either occurs off-screen or in a whirlwind of blurry camera work. However, one of the biggest differences between film and book is the finale - which featured mutated versions of deceased tributes "reborn" as monstrous and blood-thirsty dog-like animals. In the book, Katniss recognizes that the Capitol has spliced parts of the former tributes into mutant beasts; however, in the film version, the "dogs" are presented as nothing more than over-sized (and vicious) wild beasts chosen by Seneca Crane to galvanize the remaining contestants into a final altercation. No mention is made of where the creatures come from, or what exactly they are, leaving non-fans out of the loop in regards to one of the most horrific aspects of The Hunger Games. This gene-splicing mutant makeover also becomes important in the sequel books, so it'll be interesting to see how the sequel films handle it...

More Backstage Focus

In the book, we read as Katniss fights her way through the Hunger Games. We watch as she volunteers for the games themselves and as she prepares for them, with the help of  Haymitch and her stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). Once she is in the games, however, the focus is on her survival. But in the movie, many of the backstage machinations are revealed. Viewers watch as the producers of the game invent ways to keep the tributes close to each other. In this regard, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) plays a much bigger role in the film, where he appears in several scenes discussing the games with Seneca. The film shows in some detail how much work is involved backstage in getting the games to play out in an entertaining and engaging fashion.

Thresh's Death

If there is a villian in the actual games, it is Cato. The cocky muscular tribute is an unrelenting killer willing to snap the neck of an ally if a plan falls apart. Towards the end of the film, the stage is set for a showdown between him and the Katniss/Peeta alliance. As the numbers in the game narrow, a District 11 tribute named Thresh saves Katniss' life when he realizes how much she did to protect Rue throughout the games. After he saves Katniss, though, Thresh is ultimately murdered. In the book, the assumption is that Cato has killed him. But in the movie, the suggestion is that Thresh has died at the hands of a group of dogs that the game makers have called into battle to help kill some of the remaining tributes. This difference - which may seem small-- is actually quite important because Cato's murder of Thresh in the book helped set the stage for a more intense final showdown between the surviving tributes.

No Avox Girl

One of the most important differences between the book and the movie is the absence of a minor character, who has an important backstory with Katniss. My friend Kate Hicks, in discussing the film with me, actually had to point out this subtle but important difference. In the book, as Katniss is preparing for the games, she meets several individuals from the Capitol who serve her meals and drinks. One of those girls is an "Avox" (a mutilated servant) that Katniss remembers from earlier. Katniss remembers the girl as someone who was trying to escape from the Capitol, but who was subsequently captured by the government. Labeled a traitor, her tongue was eventually removed. In the book, we learn the back story of this girl and how Katniss regrets not trying to save her when she had the chance. But in the movie, this relationship is never fully realized and Katniss' connection to this girl is never revealed.

The Revolution Begins

Hands down, the biggest change between the book and the movie is the reaction to Rue's death. In the book, Katniss only know that she receives a token of District 11's appreciation for her kindness in the form of a gift dropped into the arena. In the movie, the complete reaction of District 11 is brought into greater focus. After watching their young tribute die at the hands of a vicious killer, the people of District 11 begin to revolt against the Capitol officers who watch over them. They fight against the government that has taken one of their own and sent her into a battlefield to die for their viewing pleasure. In the books (and the movies) this fight against the Capitol is explored in greater depth during the sequels, where Rue becomes something of an iconic figure.

Of course, there are many other differences between "The Hunger Games" book and the film. Although it didn't make my top 10 list, another difference between the film and the book concerns the mockingjay pin that Katniss wears throughout the games. In the book, a minor character from District 12 (the mayor's daughter) gives Katniss the pin, but in the movie, Katniss acquires it through different means. This may be significant going forward, but this minor change didn't seem important in and of itself. However as the list shows, there are some major changes between the book and the film. Many readers will likely be pleased by this adaptation because it follows the story rather closely, but others might be disappointed that the filmmakers made these and other changes to a story that they have so much affection for. Follow me on Twitter @johnhanlon.
TAGS: catching fire, the hunger games

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  1. What’s up, yeah this article is in fact nice and I have learned lot of things from it regarding blogging. thanks.

  2. I love this Book (movie) I think the book is a little better than the movie because it’s has more description term in the Book.

    • Not to mention Peeta loses his damn leg in the book!!!! They totally left that out. It plays a large part in catching fire when Peeta has trouble in the arena physically. They also left out how much the explosion of the food effected Katniss. She went deaf in one ear until the end of the book. They may have left those things out so as not to make the movie too violent, but in my opinion the tracker jacker scene was worse than that.

  3. You also forgot a very important detail. Where Katniss gets the mockingjay pin from is not greasy sae, but from the mayor’s daughter, Madge. It plays a more important role as the books go on.

    • It says that in the last slide they said that they acknowledge that missing part but it just didn’t make it into their top-ten. I agree though it was a part from the book that should have been in the movie.

    • I saw The Hunger Games movie before reading the books, since i liked it and Catching Fire was almost in theatres I decided to read the first two books before watching the second movie; after reading the books I was actually very upset that they didn’t include Madge in the story, maybe in the first book she’s not that important, but in the second one I really liked the story of where the pin comes from, plus I liked the friendship she had with Katniss.

      Something I also think (but I dunno if it’s only my impression or it actually is) is that I like Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, but I think she’s making the character more aggressive than in the book, I have the impression of Katniss as an introvert girl who over thinks a lot of stuff, who deeply cares for others but in the movie I don’t really see this in the character :/

  4. This may have been stated in a previous comment that I didn’t see, but personally I think the biggest oversight was Katniss’s hearing loss. After the explosion (in the book) she was completely deaf in one ear, which wasn’t repaired until she had won. This reconstruction of her ear is a major part of the plot in the second book, and I’ve very curious to see what the directors do about that. Also, while not as vital in future books/movies, a very powerful scene in the book shows Katniss’s terror at the thought of Peta dying after they’re separated in the helicopters following their win.I was very disappointed this was left out as it showed the changing dynamic of their relationship.

    • I have never read or watched the hunger games. However, as an outsider reading these comments about frustrations with the changes made for the film adaptation (Peeta’s leg and Katniss’ hearing loss), it is clear to me that plot developments crucial to understanding these characters as complex and three-dimensional, were left out. Especially the two examples I’ve given are instances where the film industry has omitted information in order to make it easier for the general public to relate to the main characters without complication. Hearing loss and the loss of a limb alter people/characters to make them non-normative outsiders. This is something that most of America is uncomfortable with. Yet again, corporations have neglected to tell the full story in order to make their product more lucrative, even at the expense of a person/character’s dignity and full story.

  5. There was no madge in the movie

  6. This is a very nice list but there are 2 things not included in here that I thought were very important to the book and to the books that follow. One would be Madge giving Katniss the mockingjay pin. I was very disappointed that they removed her character from the movie. Also One Huge difference that still kills me is at the end of the book, Peeta gets his leg almost taken off by one of the muts and has to get a prosthetic which plays a part in both books after.

  7. you forgot to mention how the Mockingjay pin was originally a gift from Madge. Madge, although a small role, plays an important part in the series. Madge is Mayor Undersee’s daughter, who Gale loathes because she doesn’t have to put her name into the reaping more than the required times. But she is Katniss’ only friend in school, even though they rarely talk.
    When Madge comes to see Katniss before the ride to the Capitol, she gives her the pin. We later find out the back story of the pin and its involvement with Haymitch and the rebellion that started a long time ago.
    Taking this out of the film has hindered a great story line that I’m not sure how they will continue in the future movies. Madge helps not only in that aspect, but also helps Katniss in future ways.

  8. you also forgot that in the movie the cornucopia was black not gold also that Cato’s death stretches cross the afternoon to night in the book

  9. wooo

  10. That is so true!!! I thought I was the only one to notice!!! I love katniss!!!

  11. That is so true!!! I thought I was the only one to notice!!! I love this movie Anyway!!!!!

  12. In the book the cornucopia is referred to as a golden horn like thing, but in the movie it’s more like a metal silver box that’s been hollowed out. The cornucopia also appears in Catching Fire so I’d like to see how they fix it because everyone who reads will get the impression that the cornucopia is a giant golden horn; this was the biggest let down for me

  13. I think the hunger games movie was great !!!! They forgot to put rues canyon off when she died.

  14. Not to mention Peeta loses his damn leg in the book!!!! They totally left that out. It plays a large part in catching fire when Peeta has trouble in the arena physically. They also left out how much the explosion of the food effected Katniss. She went deaf in one ear until the end of the book. They may have left those things out so as not to make the movie too violent, but in my opinion the tracker jacker scene was worse than that.

  15. They left out how cinna told them to hold bands which is also an important part as well as haymitch telling them to stick together through training. They left out the little hints and showed everyone the big idea instead.

  16. The books have it all over the movie, in my opinion. The movie is too far afield from the book and, while all these changes were made, many more are not mentioned. I think if I had only seen the movie without reading the book, then my opinion might be less critical. However, after having read the book, and then seeing the movie, automatically sets up the disappointment in the movie. I would have been much happier if the movie had stayed more on track.

    • What!!! Hunger games was amazing plus tell me how can peeta (josh hutcherson) act with one leg…? And I like that he didn’t get his leg torn off but the mistake that bugged me a little bit was Madge was sopost to give her the pin… Actually this movie stayed very true to the book I’m proud of it and also millions of fans and including me are super excited to see catching fire hit theaters (nov 22nd) like think the lightning thief compared to movie to book that just sucked lol remember that HUNGER GAMES STAYED TRUE TO THE BOOK!!!!

    • Heidi: I completely agree with you. I saw The Hunger Games with my daughter first, and knew nothing about the books. The movie didn’t make much sense to me (I’m not normally a sci-fi lover), so I decided to read the trilogy. I couldn’t stop reading- I loved the books. I’ve started over w/the movies (2 so far now). I am very disappointed in all that the movie has left out. The mockingjay pin as HUGE to the series- it’s on the cover of each book even! WHO she got it from & why is also vital. That was the 1st thing to really disappoint me. Rue’s importance is also huge, yet not so in the movie. I expected Peeta to act stronger in the movie, but to me, they made him a wimp. In my mind, he wasn’t exactly a bada**, but he could be strong. Yet again, the books prove to me to be far better than the movie(s). And, to the person who said ‘how can Peeta walk w/out a leg in a movie,’ ummm, it’s been done before. Neglecting that fact is just another reason the book is better. However, in saying all of that, I do have to give a thumbs up on most of the characters portrayed. I think Jen. Lawrence has done the part a huge service. Woody Harrelson is my fav. as far as character portrayal- he makes a good sarcastic, drunk who doesn’t care, but does! I like Sutherland as the Pres. I think if they would give Gale more air time as far as through Kat’s eyes, his character would be better, though I think he was good. I don’t particularly like Josh playing Peeta. Yes, in the book, Peeta is a kind-hearted guy, but he’s also strong. Peeta in the movie reminds me of a weak dork… not crazy about Hutcherson’s acting (sorry if that offends some). Whenever I read the books, I really do hear Lawrence’s & Harrelson’s voices when they speak! That makes it better. The others, not so much. Just my opinions ;)

  17. What!!! Hunger games was amazing plus tell me how can peeta (josh hutcherson) act with one leg…? And I like that he didn’t get his leg torn off but the mistake that bugged me a little bit was Madge was sopost to give her the pin… Actually this movie stayed very true to the book I’m proud of it and also millions of fans and including me are super excited to see catching fire hit theaters (nov 22nd) like think the lightning thief compared to movie to book that just sucked lol remember that HUNGER GAMES STAYED TRUE TO THE BOOK!!!!

  18. what about the difference in who gave katniss the mockingjay pin, the movie just has greAsy sae give it her, im sure the book its the majors daughter madge undersee

    • I know u have a good point I was just a little disappointed about that to be honest but the movie still was very good have u ever read the lightning their then watched the movie…. Gosh

    • The pin was originally a gift from Maige, in the book she quotes a lot about how the pin was a symbol of friendship and now was a symbol of rebellion. Also in the book, it lead to a lot of backstory like her days in school. And later…=== (!!spoiler alert!!)===… It ends up being a source of grief for her not being able to save Maige and her father (the mayor of district 11) from the bombing.

  19. One thing I didn’t like that they changed is where Katniss gets the mockingjay pin from!!!

    • Yea that’s the only thing I wish they changed but catchign fire is sopost to be very very true to the book so I’m excited

  20. Yea that’s the only thing I wish they changed but catchign fire is sopost to be very very true to the book so I’m excited

  21. First off I’d like to point out that I saw The Hunger Games before reading the books. I absolutely loved the movie! I thought it was intense, held our attention as viewers, had some romance (Oh how I love you Peeta!) & a bit of humor. Never did I consider reading the books because I was satisfied with the movie (Which is abnormal for me, I almost always read the books before seeing the film). It wasnt until a little less than a week ago that a friend of mine refered the books to me because she had read the books prior to seeing the movie and thought the movie was in her own words “bulls…” I think you can figure out the rest. After burning through the series in three days I began to realize how different the book was, from large to minor details that really give you a feeling for all the characters. My biggest problem with the book vs movie is in the book, there has always been a connection between Katniss & Peeta even though she has never really noticed him other then when they had been picked for the hunger games. (Meaning after he threw her the bread) In the book she thought about him a lot & wanted to thank him many times but never could. Another thing in the “Peeta & Katniss” world is that in the book there is a build up of romance between them, it is very obvious that he loves her and has for a long time but in the movie she doesnt seem to develope the feelings we see her develope in the book which is very dissapointing in my opinon. Judging by how I felt from the movie was that she wasnt starting to have romantic feelings for him or even confused feelings for him at all she was just playing the part. & one more thing just to throw it out there, they kiss A LOT in the book and its very minor in the movie, just sayin’ ;) Overall I think that if the movie was to be seperated from the book it would be a great movie & I think either way the book is amazing. In conclusion to my rant, I’d like to throw in the fact that I hope Catching Fire is better matched with the book.

  22. The biggest difference was the end! The president did not split the crown in half, they never showed the recovery scenes of katniss, never showed her reuniting with peeta, never showed Peetas fake leg and most importantly never showed Peetas dissapointment in finding out Katniss was actinf, but really wasnt acting by the end of the book. That was important! To me at least. They screwed up the end of the movie so bad in my opinion.

    • I agree with you Mike^ especially about Peeta’s leg. Its supposed to be something that makes survival for him more difficult in the next book so not sure exactly how their gonna go around that. Personally, I think the ending of the movie was probably the worst part.

  23. What about Katniss and Gale’s hide out? In the sequels they go back to this hide out, but if they do include it in the movie, the non-fan viewers will get confused. Plus, where are the stylists in the beginning?

  24. What is also missing is the ending. There is not confrontation on whether or not Katniss was actually in love with Peeta or if it was all for the Games. That was a really huge let down for me, in my opinion.

  25. One thing I became really upset about in the movie is that the romance scene that was in the book between peeta and katnissis not really shown in the movie. That was a huge part of this story. Especially when Peeta tells her how he first noticed her. And not to mention there were a lot of kissing scenes in the book whereas in the movie there was like maybe 2 in the cave scene.

  26. One thing I became really upset about in the movie is that the romance scene that was in the book between peeta and katnissis not really shown in the movie. That was a huge part of this story. Especially when Peeta tells her how he first noticed her. And not to mention there were a lot of kissing scenes in the book whereas in the movie there was like maybe 2 in the cave scene. I thought Ross did a horrible job in this movie, he left out a lot of small details that are extremely important.

  27. There was no madge in the movie. I personally think that the book was much better than the movie because it had much more and the movie was mainly based off of the main idea of the book.

  28. I would just like to point out a couple of differences of the book and movie that I found quite important:

    I wanted to point out how the mayor’s daughter, Madge Undersee was never introduced. Which irked me quite a bit seeing as she was one of Katniss’s only friends and how she was the one to hand over the Mockingjay token to Katniss in the first place, not Greasy Sae.

    I also wanted to point out the fact that the relationship between both Cinna and Haymitch with Katniss was never really developed in the film. In the book, Cinna becomes someone quite important to Katniss through the fact that he was the only one to actually listen to what she had to say and Haymitch was even more so important seeing as in all three books it says how alike Katniss and Haymitch are to each other which ultimately helps in the plotting of the young love scenerio in the games.

    Another thing I wanted to point out is how Peeta almost seems like a general topic in the movie. In the book he is seen as a witty, smart, outspoken and kind-hearted guy which ultimately helps in the rebellion. But that’s besides the point, in the first movie, he’s seen as just this helplessly lost boy, which, in general he is, but at least in the book the boy has some sarcastic quotes to help regain his ego!

    I want to really infasize in this next topic: The scenes the take place after Katniss finds Peeta. First of all, there is a scene in a book (which is quite important, in my opinion) that is completely disregarded in the movie. The scene being the one where Katniss has to forcefully drink sleeping syrup in order for her to go to the banquet. Then there’s also the fact that the director completely disregarded the scene where Katniss and Peeta where meant to speak about the love between his own father and Katniss’s mother. Not going to lie but I was hoping for that scene.

    Last but not least I would like to point out the fact that the ending (at least to me) was completely ruined!! In the last few scenes of the Hungers Games, according to the book, Peeta, when being chased by the altered mutts of the Capital was meant to have been bitten which ultimately causes him to loose his leg. I understand that the director wanted to keep this movie as PG-13 as possible but come on! You guys can’t disregard a key fact like that! But they did and thankfully Francis Lawrence was able to work with it. Despite all this, in the scene where Katniss and Peeta are lifted into the hovercraft, Suzanne Collins explains how Katniss throws becomes so despereate to defend Peeta from the doctors that it ultimately explains how much the games actually affected her.

    I believe these are all important scenes and facts of the book that should’ve been included in the movie, but that’s my own opinion.

    • Totally agree with you about Cinna & Haymitch being incredibly important, not only to Katniss, but the whole story. They should not have downplayed those relationships.

  29. I didn’t appreciate how much they left out about Flavius and Octavia in catching fire. They were so much more present in the books. Barely even mentioned in the movie…

    • I completely agree with you Natalie. Especially seeing as they both become pretty damn important in Mockingjay. I wonder how Lawrence (the director) is going to work around that.

      • *spoiler alert* yeah I don’t know why they would have cut Flavius and Ocatavia out so much when their torture would have made mocking jay especially more dramatic. And if they do include it then non book readers will be confused as to who they even are.

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