One of the biggest issues that the new ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ movie will have to deal with is the sheer weight of expectation created by the first movie. The original ‘Hunger Games’ film was considered by most people to be an absolutely superb adaptation of the original Suzanne Collins novel, and has generally garnered a good critical reception. The portrayal and presentation of key characters from the books thrilled most devoted individuals that were eagerly awaiting the big screen adaptation of the original novel, with the character of Katniss being described by one reviewer as “just as one might imagine her from the novel”.
The film also captivated a new raft of fans, many of whom have now gone back and read the trilogy of ‘Hunger Games’ novels. Thus, most of the audience of ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ are already familiar with the storyline and plot, and are simply waiting to see if the imagination and execution of the director and production team can match their own internal imaginings of the novel.
However, there are several factors that immediately come to mind which will impact directly upon the production, and will greatly influence the ability or otherwise of ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ to match the effectiveness and craft of the original movie.
The first of these is a simple change of personnel in the director’s chair. Director Gary Ross, who so ably brought the printed word to life in the first movie, ruled himself out of directing the sequel a long time ago. The fact that this was not merely a case of not wanting to be bogged down by directorial typecasting, but that he explicitly stated that he didn’t feel he could satisfy his vision for the film given the tight production schedule, could be a cause for concern. Francis Lawrence, currently best Known for the Will Smith flick ‘I Am Legend’, will have a job on his hands to match Ross’ work.
This leads into the other big factor – studio expectation. ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ is being made for double the budget of the first movie, with the studio expecting it to be a huge hit, and counting on making big money out of it; hence the reason for the tight production schedule. This has historically not been the best way to tease out the finest cinematic productions, but given the time constraints as well, it leaves a new director with little time to battle the studio over any issues of artistic integrity. And it goes without saying that studios become a lot more prohibitive and hand wringing over a film when they’ve staked a lot of money and expectation on it.