[UPDATE: Lionsgate has settled on a release date for the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. Read on...]
A couple more images have hit the Web, along with an update from costar Elizabeth Banks on where writer/director Gary Ross and second unit director Steven Soderbergh are, with respect to production on the project.
Shooting on the Hunger Games adaptation has been ongoing since this past May, with North Carolina being used to portray the film's setting of Panem, a futuristic version of North America which has been heavily afflicted by years of war, drought, and widespread famine. Panem is separated into twelve separate "districts", each of which must annually submit "tributes" in the form of a teenage girl and boy, to compete in the government-sponsored Hunger Games.
The latest images released from the film reveal Hunger Games protagonists Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) - looking bruised and battered from the title contest, which pits the "tributes" against one another in a death match meant to symbolize the power of the ruling Capitol, led by the cruel President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Check out those new Hunger Games photos - along with some hi-res versions of previously-released images, minus the Entertainment Weekly watermark - below:
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Despite the gruesome nature of the subject matter, Hunger Games is aiming for a box office friendly PG-13 Rating. Even so, there's been some question as to whether the film adaptation can actually come close to matching the popularity of fellow young adult literature-turned-movie franchises like Harry Potter and Twilight. After all, fantasy tales about teenagers training to become wizards and battling evil forces - or falling in love with handsome supernatural creatures - are more friendly on the surface than a story about a 1984-style dystopian world where young people are forced to murder one another, as a means of "entertaining" the masses.
UPDATE: Lionsgate is (obviously) hoping for a success here, seeing as that the studio already has plans to adapt all three Hunger Games books into a four-movie series. The second installment, Catching Fire, is now officially slated for release on November 22, 2013 - emulating the release pattern for certain entries in both the Harry Potter and Twilight franchise, as it were.
Elizabeth Banks, who's playing the chipper District 12 escort Effie Trinket in Hunger Games, is already talking up the project (not a surprise, of course) and indicated to Coming Soon that it may not be too long before we get to see some footage from the film:
"We're almost done [filming 'The Hunger Games']. We've got a little under a month left. It's very exciting. We're really making a provocative movie that's also highly entertaining. It's gonna be fun. It's really great to make something that you know people are excited about and also that you know is gonna deliver. I really think the fans are gonna love it."
With so many accomplished names starring in the film and working behind-the-scenes, it's hard to imagine that Hunger Games won't turn to be a decent adaptation of Suzanne Collins' source material. Plus, there are definitely some cool visuals from the original novel that stand to look all the better when realized on the big screen (like Katniss' "Girl on Fire" outfit or the dangerous "natural landscape" of the Hunger Games battle arena).
The Hunger Games arrives in U.S. theaters on March 23rd, 2012.