La-La Land right now is all about “The Hunger Games,” a high-profile adaptation of the best selling novel by Suzanne Collins. Equally compelling was the scuttlebutt over which starlet would land the plum role of teenaged badass Katniss Everdeen. Recent Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone“), 20, has just won that coveted role.
The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic United States, where a group of teenagers are randomly selected to fight each other to death. The games are televised to a rabid audience. When her younger sister is chosen to participate, Katniss volunteers to take her place. The novel’s absorbing twists and turns held readers rapt. With a tough, beautiful teenage heroine at its center, not to mention a large, post-“Harry Potter” audience, it’s no surprise Hollywood producers came calling.
Lionsgate acquired worldwide distribution rights following a high-stakes bidding war. Collins herself adapted the script with acclaimed screenwriter Billy Ray. The film will be directed by Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit,” “Pleasantville“), with an announced budget of $60 million.
The studio told EW.com earlier this month that some 30 high-profile ingénues had thrown their hats in the ring, among them Oscar nominees Abigail Breslin(“Little Miss Sunshine“) and Saoirse Ronan (“Atonement); “Kick-Ass” scene-stealer Chloe Moretz; Emma Roberts of “Easy A“; Emily Browning, currently kicking butts onscreen in “Sucker Punch“; and Kaya Scodelario, beloved from the U.K. television drama “Skins.”
“The Hunger Games” was first published in September 2008. Sequels “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” were published in ’09 and ’10.