Like a lot of devoted Hunger Games fans who saw the movie over the weekend, I noticed a fair number of changes between the book and the movie, and thought they were almost entirely for the better. Expanding the role of Seneca Crane to help explain how the Games work, giving extra scenes to President Snow to give the story a more central villain, showing Haymitch doing the wheeling and dealing with the sponsors-- it all helped build the world of Panem beyond the perspective of Katniss, which will be crucial in the next two (maybe three?) movies, when the scope of the story expands massively.
But whenever you change something in the first part of the story, it's going to have a domino effect down the line, and as much as The Hunger Games really did stay true to the book, some of the changes made in the movie will reflect directly on what happens in the sequel, Catching Fire. After re-reading the second book over the weekend, I noticed a few changes from the movie that they'll have to account for in the next film. Here are five of them below.
The Riot in District 11
One of the most stirring moments in The Hunger Games wasn't in the book at all-- the riot that takes place in Rue's home district when she is killed and Katniss salutes the camera. In the book, District 11 sends down the expensive gift of bread to thanks Katniss, but the riot is a much more visceral and memorable way to explain that these people are also unhappy with how things are going. But it will likely make for a very different scene when Katniss and Peeta arrive in District 11 on the Victory Tour in Catching Fire; if a riot has already taken place there, how can the gathering the square be the same? What will happen to the old man who whistles that will be just as shocking? It's possible the riot will have been quelled and everything will be back to normal, but I'd be more interested to see a testier mood in District 11.
No introduction of hovercrafts removing bodies from the arena
This is a small detail in The Hunger Games, when Katniss and Peeta see hovercrafts removing the bodies of the dead tributes, but it becomes crucial at the very end of Catching Fire, when Katniss is picked up by a hovercraft after busting through the force field and assume she's being kidnapped by the Capitol. Even more importantly, the audiences who haven't read the books may have no idea what the hovercraft is capable of doing. They'll have to come up with some kind of quick narrative workaround to establish this in Catching Fire.
A lot of District 12 details were left out
Sure, we got the basics of District 12 in The Hunger Games-- coal miners, poor, hungry, in Appalachia. But Katniss's narration in the book gives us a lot of details that become crucial later, such as the easygoing relationship between the local Peacekeepers and the people in town-- Darius hanging out at the Hob, for example-- and even the Hob itself, which we see briefly at the beginning of the film but not nearly enough to understand its importance to Katniss. And even the fact that her hunting with Gale is illegal is glossed over in the movie, while it's crucial to understanding why Gale is whipped in Catching Fire. A lot of the second book takes place in District 12, so here's hoping they can be quick with establishing the details of the place then, so that all the changes that take place in the sequel feel as meaningful as they need to.
Watching the Gamemakers worked in the first movie, but it won't in the second
It was fairly brilliant to shift some of the focus in The Hunger Games from the arena itself to the gamemaker station, where Seneca Crane and company dreamed up new ways to torment the tributes and Haymitch struck some deals. But when Katniss and Peeta return a second time to the arena in Catching Fire, they're in the dark about what's actually happening-- and it's crucial that the audience be as well. Will we watch Plutarch Heavensbee plan out the Games without getting a sense of his secret agenda? Will they give us a hint that something different is afoot? The second set of Games are completely different, and as much as I'd like to see more of the control room, I think that's going to have to be a one-time-only strategy for this franchise.
Katniss and Peeta never have a confrontation about their feelings for each other
The Hunger Games book ends on an emotional cliffhanger, as Haymitch accidentally reveals to Peeta that Katniss was kind of faking their arena romance, and Peeta's feelings are clearly real. We get the sense in the movie that she's a little more ambivalent about him, but there's no confrontation between them in the first movie, which means they'll either include it at the beginning of Catching Fire, or present a far less strained relationship between Katniss and Peeta at the beginning of the Victory Tour. That might make more sense, having less of her seesawing between emotions, but would be more complicated for presenting the credible love triangle between her, Peeta and Gale. With so many internal feelings to present without Katniss's voiceover, Catching Fire may need to make some changes to keep the love story believable.
Staff Writer at CinemaBlend
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