Lionsgate’s high hopes for The Hunger Games don’t look to be in vain, judging by the fact that the film has already managed to break an advanced ticket sales record previously held by another young adult book series-turned money-raking movie franchise (Twilight). Not that the film’s marketing blitz is over, of course.

Case in point: today we have a new 60-second long TV trailer and more production stills from The Hunger Games to share with you. In addition, the MPAA has officially released its rating for the film – and true to director Gary Ross’ word, the final verdict is PG-13 for “intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – all involving teens.”

The Hunger Games takes place in the ruins of what was once the United States of America, now a dystopian nation known as Panem. A powerful and technologically superior Capitol city rules over the 12 surrounding Districts, which are kept in line via the titular event: a disturbing televised “competition” where a male and female teenager from each district (referred to as “tributes”) are selected by lottery and forced to battle one another to the death.

Protagonist Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a resident of the coal-mining District 12, a poverty-stricken region that is looked down upon by the rest of Panem. When Katniss’ younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is selected to serve as a “tribute,” Katniss volunteers to take her place and is soon whisked away to the futuristic metropolis that is the Capitol… where she faces almost certain death in the Hunger Games arena.

UPDATE: Check out the new minute-long TV spot and short clip for The Hunger Games:

CLIP

TV SPOT

We get a nice contrast in this new Hunger Games promo between the ramshackle District 12 and the glistening kingdom that is the Capitol, as well as a better look at Katniss’ humble home life and memorable first encounter with her future fellow “tribute” Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).

Judging by this new footage, District 12 should feel appropriately worn down and old-fashioned in the film adaptation – something which many fans of Suzanne Collins’ original Hunger Games novel have pre-emptively voiced their concern about, based on the limited glimpses of the region included in previous trailers.

For a better look at some of the film’s supporting players – including the malevolent President Snow (Donald Sutherland), former Hunger Games champion Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), and deadly District 2 “tributes” Cato (Alexander Ludwig) and Clove (Isabelle Furhman) – check out the latest Hunger Games images below:

Ross has put together an excellent cast for his Hunger Games adaptation –  a group of actors who (so far) not only look their parts well enough, but also seem to have captured the essence of their respective characters. At this point, it’s obvious we will have to wait and see the actual movie to find out if Ross and his production team have likewise captured the brutal nature of the actual Games – without the violence coming off as either exploitative or unrealistically “clean” (something Collins’ source material does very well).

All shall be revealed when The Hunger Games opens in theaters around the U.S. on March 23rd, 2012.

Source: Entertainment Weekly, Lionsgate