It seems no studio blockbuster is complete without an IMAX release these days, but The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is looking to do more with the expanded format and elevated ticket price than cash in. The latest featurette gives a few details on how director Francis Lawrence will be using the larger format to bring another dimension to Katniss Everdeen's second outing.
Hunger Games cast member Josh Hutcherson had previously teased that the new director would be filming the action set within the Arena itself with the larger format, but it now seems that nearly all of the Arena will be filmed specifically for the IMAX experience, with the shift used to separate the outside world from that of the 75th Hunger Games proper.
No moviegoers need to be told just how much of a difference IMAX can make, but Lawrence's decision to save that added impact for Katniss' entry into the Arena is an intriguing one. So far the studio has been keeping footage or images of the water-logged battle dome under wraps, instead focusing on Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Hutcherson) on their Victory Tour for the capitol. Those portions of the film - continuing many themes of The Hunger Games (rebellion, oppression) - will be shot traditionally, only expanding into IMAX once Katniss ascends into the Arena.
Lawrence isn't the first director to use newer film technology to mark a shift within a film's narrative (Joseph Kosinski used IMAX 3D to stun audiences upon first entering the digital world of TRON: Legacy), but the choice is a promising one in terms of tone and spectacle. In the novel upon which Catching Fire is based, the overwhelming of Katniss' senses that marks her entry into the second fight of her life is one of the more memorable moments of the story, so any attempt to give that sensation to the audience, as well as the heroine, is to be applauded.
Frankly, it's just nice to hear that Catching Fire is going to be doing whatever possible to distinguish itself from the series' first entry, since production on Mockingjay - Parts 1 & 2 has been stealing most of the headlines of late. Gathering so many distinguished actors for the franchise's final chapter(s) is a good way of stealing the spotlight, but Catching Fire needs to succeed first.
The cast set to do battle in Catching Fire isn't lacking either, but this brief look at the action and approach to a bigger, bolder, and more deadly Arena is sure to keep fans focused on the present, not the future. Not to mention fuel IMAX pre-sales, kicking off today in most areas.
What do you think of the transformation from standard format to IMAX being used as part of the overall direction? Would you prefer the entire film be shot in IMAX, or do you think Lawrence is onto something more directors should emulate? Sound off in the comments.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens in regular and IMAX theaters on November 22, 2013.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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