Screaming girls, celebs and their kids at 'Hunger Games' premiere
The Nokia Theatre is a making a name for itself hosting premieres for teenage girls' filmic obsessions. The official premiere theater for the "Twilight" series, the 7,100-seat house has now added "The Hunger Games" to its charge, and the Monday night event featured a level of high-pitch screaming comparable to that induced by Bella and Edward.
After a long wait for everyone to get seated, director Gary Ross introduced the three leads of "The Hunger Games": Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Lawrence, her willowy form wrapped in a floor-length shiny gold gown, anticipated her cue too soon, and appeared briefly from behind the curtain, only to run behind it again while Ross finished his introduction. When she did come out, she nearly took a spill on the stage, apparently tripping on her dress. Hemsworth, a towering Aussie, delivered a mouthful of Outback mumble that was indecipherable even to Ross, who was standing right next to him. On the way off the stage, Hutcherson playfully stepped on the train of Lawrence's dress and she spun around and shook a fist at his nose.
The after-party, held under a tent on the top level of a nearby parking garage at L.A. Live, likely would have impressed even the persnickety denizens of the movie’s mythical capital.
Buffet lines -- steaming with crab cake sliders, mashed potatoes and asparagus -- lined the perimeter of the giant black tent atop L.A. Live’s event deck. A supersize floral arrangement resembling a globe in a moss-covered tree shaded the central dessert table, brimming with butterscotch pudding, chocolate cookies and lime cheesecake cake pops. And there were more bars than even Haymitch Abernathy could hope for.
But many of the guests were not oohing and aahing over the catering.
"Everyone who has a daughter between 12 and 18 is here," said Shawn Levy, the director of "Real Steel" and "Night at the Museum," as he watched an industry parade of familiar faces, many of them holding hands with young girls teetering on their just-bought high heels.
Phoebe Brown and Serena Sgro, both 14-year-old eighth-graders from Toronto, were on a mission. Hugging copies of “The Hunger Games” books, the two friends were searching the room for their quarry -- the series’ author, Suzanne Collins, and actors Isabelle Furhman, Jack Quaid and Lenny Kravitz -- to complete the set of autographs quickly filling the inside covers of their hardbacks.
“We had to read the books for school,” said Phoebe, taking a brief pause from her autograph hunt, “and I’ve loved them ever since.”
Before seeing the movie, the girls said they were partial to two of the male characters, Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne, but were less fond of protagonist Katniss Everdeen, a teenage girl from a poor part of the country of Panem, who along with Peeta is thrown into a televised death match for the entertainment of the nation’s capital.
“I didn’t like Katniss in the books; she was snobby,” said Serena. “But I liked the way Jennifer Lawrence played her in the movie.”
The girls scored Lawrence’s autograph, but were a tad disappointed that they weren’t allowed to take a photo with her. “I guess they are worried that people will try to sell them,” said Phoebe.
There was a slew of other celebrities roaming the hangar-sized tent, including Michael Chiklis, Jim Belushi, Kate Beckinsale and Meg Ryan, all accompanied by their eager, star-struck children.
All the celebrating didn't completely overshadow the dark themes of the film, especially to Donald Sutherland, who plays the insidious President Snow of Panem. "To me, it's not science fiction, it's an allegory of the situation today, the oligarchy we live in right now. This movie is about what's happening right now."
No one is more aware of the themes of "The Hunger Games" than Ross, who watched the second half of the film from the back of the theater and was a bit disturbed by how raucous some of the disturbing scenes played.
"I was hoping they would settle down, especially when the victors are crowned. But it is the premiere," he said with his 15-year-old son Jack by his side. "But they liked it," he said with a grin. "I think we are going to do OK."
-- Julie Makinen, Geoff Boucher and Nicole Sperling
Photos: Top, actors Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth arrive at the premiere of "The Hunger Games." Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images. Bottom, actor Donald Sutherland signs autographs as he arrives at the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live. Credit: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images