When the project was first announced, The Hunger Games, a highly anticipated feature adaptation of the first book in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy of novels, was adapted for the screen by Billy Ray (State of Play, Breach). However, today Lionsgate tweeted a change to the script credits saying, “The current draft of The Hunger Games script was not written by Billy Ray. It is a collaboration between Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins.”
This isn’t the first script for Ross, the film’s director, as he also put pen to paper for such films as Pleasantville, Big and Seabiscuit. For Collins, she’s done a little television work in the past, including the teleplay for 2001’s Santa, Baby! and more recently five episodes of the Nick Jr. television show “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” which is a bit of a 180 when you consider the graphic nature of The Hunger Games.
The most interesting news here is the fact Lionsgate says Ray’s script won’t be used at all, which means it must have undergone some serious rewriting.
Back in April, Ross told Entertainment Weekly he and Collins were reworking the script saying, “Both Suzanne and [screenwriter] Billy Ray had done wonderful work, but I told Billy when I began — and heâ€™s a director as well and a very good one — that I would have to put this into my own voice. And I wanted to get back as close as I could to the essence of the book and the emotional arc. To get inside Katnissâ€™ skin and understand how she grows, largely through her relationship with Peeta. I needed to have fresh clay to do that. And then when the draft was done and I got in the room with Suzanne, it was a very, very spontaneous process.”
The two sounded like there was a bit of a scripting spark as Collins adds, “What happened with Gary, it was almost instantaneous.”
So it sounds like their collaboration resulted in a script they were both (and Lionsgate) quite happy with.
For those that still don’t know what the film is about, it centers on Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and takes place in a distant future where North America is now referred to as Panem and the ruling government (referred to as the Capitol) and privileged lord over the lesser districts by rationing their goods and forcing each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in a violent forum referred to as the Hunger Games. Part twisted entertainment, part government intimidation tactic, the Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until only one survivor remains.
Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives (Career Tributes), Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
As far as additional casting is concerned, the casting of unknowns has continued lately with announcements that Amber Chaney will play Lavinia, an avox that has had her tongue removed by the Capitol and Kimiko Gelman and Nelson Ascencio will play Venia and Flavius, members of Katnissâ€™ prep team alongside the recently cast Lenny Kravitz who plays Cinna, Katniss’ assigned fashion stylist for the highly ceremonial lead up to The 74th Annual Hunger Games.
Filming on The Hunger Games is underway with filming currently taking place in Hildrebran, North Carolina. The film is set for a March 23, 2012 release.