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MARTIN GROVE'S HOLLYWOOD REPORT -- "GAMES" GOLD – 11/16/15


 
THE HUNGER GAMES-MOCKINGJAY, PART 2 - LIAM HEMSWORTH

THE HUNGER GAMES-MOCKINGJAY, PART 2 - LIAM HEMSWORTH

THE HUNGER GAMES-MOCKINGJAY, PART 2

THE HUNGER GAMES-MOCKINGJAY, PART 2

THE HUNGER GAMES-MOCKINGJAY, PART 2  - ELIZABETH BANKS & JENNIFER LAWRENCE

THE HUNGER GAMES-MOCKINGJAY, PART 2 - ELIZABETH BANKS & JENNIFER LAWRENCE

 

"Games" gold: They say all good things must end and that's exactly what moviegoers will find this weekend when Lionsgate's final"Hunger Games" episode opens.

With "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2"going into about 4,000 theatres, the mega-blockbuster franchise will wind up its four year run. The first three episodes grossed an outstanding $1.2 billion domestically and about$1.1 billion more in international boxoffice gold.Hollywood handicappers expect "M-2" to deliver a healthy mid-month jolt to November ticket sales.

          The PG-13 rated sci-fi adventure finale from Lionsgate and Color Force is directed by Francis Lawrence ("Mockingjay - Part 1,""Catching Fire") and reteams Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.

          "M-2's" roster of stars also includes: Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin and Jena Malone. Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland return from "The Hunger Games" and "Catching Fire" as do"Mockingjay – Part 1"stars Julianne Moore, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer, Wes Chatham, Elden Henson and Evan Ross.

          It's a cast that boasts five Oscar nominees with 15 noms and three wins between them. Jennifer Lawrence won best actress in 2013 for "Silver Linings Playbook."She was a best actress nominee in 2011 for "Winter's Bone" and a supporting actress nominee in 2014 for "American Hustle."

          Woody Harrleson was a best actor nominee in 1997 for "The People vs. Larry Flynt" and a supporting actor nominee in 2010 for "The Messenger."

          Julianne Moore was a best actress winner in 2015 for "Still Alice." She was a best actress nominee in 2000 for "The End of the Affair" and in 2003 for "Far From Heaven." She was a supporting actress nominee in 1998 for "Boogie Nights" and in 2003 for "The Hours."

          Philip Seymour Hoffman won best actor in 2006 for "Capote." He was a supporting actor nominee in 2008 for "Charlie Wilson's War," in 2009 for "Doubt" and in 2013 for "The Master."

          Stanley Tucci was a supporting actor nominee in 2010 for "The Lovely Bones."

          Based on Suzanne Collins' young adult fiction trilogy of "Hunger Games" novels, the franchise hit the bulls eye Mar. 23, 2012 when the first episode opened to $152.5 million. It went on to do $408 million domestically.

          Episode two, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," arrived Nov. 22, 2013 to $158.1 million and did $424.7 million domestically.

          The third episode, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1," was the first chapter in the series' two-part conclusion. It opened Nov. 21, 2014 to $121.9 million and took in $337.1 million domestically.

          In "M-2," after having been symbolized as the Mockingjay, Katniss (Lawrence) and District 13 engage in all-out revolution against the Capitol and President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

          "In this film, Katniss takes the action back into her own hands and goes after Snow personally," Francis Lawrence explains. "The movie really opens up as we go deep into the streets of the Capitol, coming full circle from Katniss's journey there in the first film. There's more action, more scope, more emotion and most of all, this film brings the story to its moving conclusion."

          This is the chapter, he adds, "when Katniss really starts to believe in the impact that she can have. She's always been so reluctant and has always found herself in situations where all she can do is try to survive, but now she's turning the tables. I was excited for her to finally take her place as a leader.

          "At the end of 'Mockingjay – Part 1,' she was kind of numb, and genuinely unsure if she wanted to go on. In 'Mockingjay – Part 2' she starts seeing the bigger picture. She's looking beyond her own personal losses and gains to focus on making a better future."

          Nina Jacobson, who produced the franchise with Jon Kilik, observes: "For the first three movies, Katniss feels as if someone else is writing the script of her life and she has no choice but to either act or react to that script. In this final film, she makes her decision: that Snow must die and she's going to get him. You see her character fully in control now, fully realized."

          For Jennifer Lawrence, concluding the series is bittersweet, but she's leaving Katniss at the most promising juncture of her life. "She's started to see the beauty in humanity in this film," Lawrence points out.

          "In the beginning she had a short view of the way things are because of her upbringing. She did not have much hope then, and she felt alone for a lot of her life. During everything that has happened – in the Games, in District 13, in the Capitol at the end of this story – she found herself more and more connected to people."

          Lawrence says that part of the beauty of Katniss is that no matter how much her world and her responsibilities have changed, her fundamental values are unchanged.

          "At her core, a part of Katniss has remained the same," he says. "Each of the movies has presented a complex character journey, with very different complications, but she is that same very real girl who still just wants to protect her loved ones.

          "All along, Jennifer has had amazing instincts and on each film, it's been surprising to see what she does. This final journey is no different. It is a new kind of emotional journey for Katniss. She is determined to rectify what was done to Peeta, what was done to her personally, and what was done to the people of the Districts – and Jennifer dives into that."

          Summing it up, Jacobson comments: "Jen has always brought a grounded emotional honesty to the role. But now she shifts, turning defiance, grief and rage into action and leadership. She does that extraordinarily well. Her performance in this film shows the complexity of a character who is searching for peace and happiness, but will always carry the scars of what we've seen her experience."

          Bottom line: Although "Hunger" is ending, that doesn't mean young adult fiction movie fans will go hungry. Lionsgate will fill the gap next Mar. 20 with "The Divergent Series: Allegiant," the first of that franchise's two-part conclusion.

          Directed by Robert Schwentke ("The Divergent Series: Insurgent"), the sci-fi adventure is set in a post-apocalyptic world and stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoe Kravitz, Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller.

          Based on a trilogy of Veronica Roth novels, the series' first episode, "Divergent," opened Mar. 21, 2014 to $54.6 million and did $150.9 million domestically. The second episode, "The Divergent Series: Insurgent," opened Mar. 20, 2015 to $52.3 million and took in $130.2 million domestically.

         

The series' fourth and final episode, "The Divergent Series: Ascendant,"also directed by Schwentke, is scheduled to open Mar. 24, 2017.