Briefly: The second Hunger Games film, Catching Fire, has just been shooting in and around Atlanta, but Lionsgate is already thinking forward to the next two films in the series which will adapt the third novel as two films. The first stage of the process in getting Mockingjay to work as a two-parter is scripting, and the studio has tapped Danny Strong to write the screenplay. Strong had good headlines recently when he won two Emmys for producing and writing the HBO Sarah Palin movie Game Change and he wrote The Butler for Lee Daniels.

I won’t post the full synopsis of Mockingjay for fear of the people who are afraid of spoilers, but suffice to say it involves the continuing story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her tense relationship with the powers that be in The Capitol who try to keep weary citizens under control through the Hunger Games. The first part of Mockingjay will hit on November 21, 2014, while the second will open on November 20, 2015. Francis Lawrence is directing Catching Fire, but we don’t yet know if he’ll continue on with the series. [Variety]

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Every day in Hollywood, filmmakers meet in rooms at production companies and movie studios, giving their take on potential upcoming projects. This process hasn’t changed much over the years, except for the advent of carefully crated trailers for nonexistent movies, meant to help executives visualize the final product. Fans often post their own mash-up trailers, but we rarely get to see these pitches from noted filmmakers. It’s even more rare to find them for major Hollywood blockbusters.

The reason is simple. If the pitch gets bought, we’ll see the final movie. If it isn’t, weeks and weeks of hard work, sometimes even paying out of pocket for test footage, animatics, custom created logos and voiceovers, is all for naught. Creating these pitches is not just time consuming; it can get expensive and pretty disheartening. These videos are almost never seen outside of the studio walls, though Joe Carnahan‘s Daredevil is a recent and rare exception. Today we have another.

Years ago, Fame and Mortal Kombat: Rebirth director Kevin Tancharoen went in and pitched his take on Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. The film eventually went to Gary Ross and became a $400m+ success. I came across this video and Tancharoen has graciously allowed us to share it. Watch it now after the break. I also had an opportunity to chat briefly with Tancharoen about the process of pitching movies, how that process has changed, and the emergence of these mash-up trailer pitch reels, and that interview follows the video.

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Lionsgate recently revealed a plan to turn the final Hunger Games novel, Mockingjay, into two films rather than one. The release dates for those last two chapters are already set, for November 21, 2014 and November 20, 2015. Given that the second film, which has yet to even shoot, and is still announcing cast members, opens on November 22, 2013, that means there are three consecutive Thanksgivings with Hunger Games releases to come. 

But there might be one problem with that plan: the aggressive release schedule means that Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence might not be able to helm the third and fourth films. And so Lionsgate is already looking for his Hunger Games successor. Read More »

Three major release dates were announced Tuesday, the biggest being the official dates for the first and second half of the final Hunger Games film, Mockingjay. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 will be released November 21, 2014 while its follow up, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 will be out a year later, November 20, 2015. The second film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is coming November 22, 2013, meaning three years in a row The Hunger Games will rule Thanksgiving.

Also, the action film Need for Speed, based on the popular EA racing franchise, will be released February 7, 2014. Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) will direct. [Source: Deadline]

Briefly: We’ve reported a bit over the past couple weeks on the search for an actress to play the character Johanna Mason in the sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire. Director Francis Lawrence was said to have auditioned Jena Malone and Zoe Aggeliki in the past week and a half, and that the process led to Aggeliki being in advanced talks to play the axe-wielding District 17 Hunger Games champ.

Turns out that report, which led to many (including us) assuming that Aggeliki basically had the job, was a bit premature. THR says that Jena Malone got the offer to tplay the part, and is in talks now. Our own Angie Han was taken with the idea of Malone playing the role, rather than anyone else, noting that she has the “mix of steeliness and vulnerability that Johanna requires.” Since the role will carry over to the third film in the series, we’ll hope that Francis Lawrence has indeed chosen well.

One of the big new characters in the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire is Johanna Mason, and for the past few weeks we’ve seen quite a list of actresses who have been considered for the role. Huge Hunger Games fan Kristen Bell wanted the gig, but actresses like Mia Wasikowska, Jena Malone, and model/actress Zoe Aggeliki were the ones who seemed to have the best chance of getting the job.

And now Aggeliki is in talks for the role. Read More »

Briefly: Ask most people if they’re excited for the sequel to The Hunger Games and they’d probably say “Yes.” Ask those same people if they’re excited for Catching Fire and they might say “What’s that?” Catching Fire is the title of the second Hunger Games book by Suzanne Collins but, just to avoid any confusion, Lionsgate is officially titling the sequel film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It’s the same name recognition strategy Summit employed for Twilight films that followed the first installment, calling them The Twilight Saga followed by the book title.

Directed by Francis Lawrence and returning main actors Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland and others, the film is scheduled for release November 22, 2013.

Getting spoofed by the Scary Movie guys is sort of a Hollywood rite of passage at this point, so maybe in some twisted way this counts as an honor. Except no, not really. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the geniuses who brought you Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, etc., are set to write and direct The Starving Games, a no doubt hilarious parody of The Hunger Games and other recent action blockbusters. More details after the jump.

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