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Category: Jennifer Lawrence

Is Jennifer Lawrence revisiting the wilderness-mama genre with 'Glass Castle'?

April 23, 2012 |  2:27 pm

Jenniferlawrence
While promoting “The Hunger Games” last month, Jennifer Lawrence quipped, “I don’t know what it is with me and maternal wilderness girls. I just love 'em.…” The 21-year-old actress was referring not only to her role as Katniss Everdeen in the uber-blockbuster that has now racked up more than $350 million but also to her Academy Award-nominated part as Ree Dolly in 2010’s “Winter’s Bone.” While the films are markedly different, both feature strong female protagonists who must take on a motherly role because their parents can't fulfill their responsibilities.

That trend seems to be continuing. Not even the intensity of playing Katniss has seemed to abate the actress’ passion for the “maternal wilderness girl.” According to Deadline Hollywood this morning, Lawrence is eyeing another such part in an adaptation of journalist and gossip columnist Jeannette Walls’ best-selling memoir “The Glass Castle.”

Lionsgate declined to comment for this story, but it seems Lawrence has little fear about being typecast. “The Glass Castle” is Walls’ chronicle of her unorthodox childhood as one of four children who had to fend for themselves after their eccentric parents proved unable. The book, published in 2005, spent some 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was a favorite among many book clubs.

Paramount Pictures scooped up the movie rights to the book the year it was published via its deal with Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B but was never able to turn it into a feature film. The project went into turnaround, and producer Gil Netter (“The Blind Side,”) bought it. According to screenwriter Marti Noxon, who is just signing her deal to work on the script, Lionsgate’s president of production, Eric Feig, pounced on the project before Gill and Noxon were able to take it out as a pitch.

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'Hunger Games:' Gary Ross won't direct 'Catching Fire'

April 10, 2012 |  7:47 pm

Garyross

Proving the adage that there’s nothing as complicated in Hollywood as a hit, Gary Ross won’t direct “Catching Fire,” the second installment in Lionsgate's massively popular “The Hunger Games” franchise.

After several weeks of reports that the parties were haggling over money and deal points, both studio and director made statements in an email from Lionsgate that sought to dismiss those reports even as they confirmed that they were parting ways.

Ross led the statement, saying that “Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct 'Catching Fire.'  As a writer and a director, I simply don't have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule."

The second installment of the Jennifer Lawrence-starring franchise based on Suzanne Collins' book series is scheduled to come out in November 2013. That’s about 19 months away — not a luxurious timetable, but hardly a bang-bang one either.

Ross went on to call directing “The Hunger Games” “the happiest experience of my professional life.” Then, addressing the reports, he said, “Contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.”

Lionsgate followed the Ross statement by saying that it was “very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct ‘Catching Fire,’" adding that he “did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work.” It also said, "This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future."

The news will inevitably spark a new round of speculation, calling to mind another famous director-studio separation after a hit: Catherine Hardwicke’s high-profile departure from Summit’s “Twilight Saga.” As in that case, the studio in question was run by Rob Friedman (Summit and Lionsgate were recently combined into one entity), though there are also some differences. Hardwicke’s “Twilight,” for instance, did not earn reviews as strong as Ross’ “The Hunger Games.”

The guessing game can now begin in earnest on which director should take on "Catching Fire," which centers on Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark after they leave the Arena in the titular games. The film already has a shiny pedigree in one respect: Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” scribe, is penning the new film.

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— Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Gary Ross at "The Hunger Games" premiere in Berlin. Credit: Britta Pedersen / European Pressphoto Agency

 


'Hunger Games': Should Jennifer Lawrence really look hungrier?

March 28, 2012 |  1:56 pm

Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games'

If you ever wondered why so many Hollywood actresses spend so much time having so much plastic surgery before they're, oh, say 35, look no further than the way some film reviewers reacted to Jennifer Lawrence’s appearance in “The Hunger Games.” As Slate’s L. V. Anderson has noted, a surprising number of critics have bodysnarked Lawrence for having a body that is, well, too ample for the role of the film's heroine Katniss Everdeen.

The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis thought Lawrence didn’t look hungry enough for the part, saying “now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission.” 

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy suggested that Lawrence was miscast, saying her “lingering baby fat shows here.” And Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells referred to Lawrence as a “fairly tall, big-boned lady” who’s “too big” for Josh Hutcherson, Katniss’ love interest.

PatrickgoldsteinSo what we to make of this reaction? Is it sexism? Or is it something more complicated? After all, showbiz always has been all about appearances. In fairness, the obsession with slimness isn’t limited simply to actresses.

“Park and Recreation’s” Chris Pratt made no secret of the fact that he flunked his audition to play Oakland A’s first baseman Scott Hatteberg in “Moneyball” because he was too fat. He said after losing 30 pounds he finally got the part. And if I had a dollar for every critic and blogger who made malicious fun of Russell’s Crowe hefty appearance in “State of Play,” I’d have almost as much money as “The Hunger Games” made in its opening weekend.

In other words, the critics certainly aren’t the only ones with a neurotic preoccupation with appearances. It starts with the people who make the movies, who have a thousand reasons to focus on appearances, some of them perfectly reasonable, some of them ridiculously frivolous. At least when it came to “Moneyball,” veracity was an issue. The “Moneyball” filmmakers clearly believed that having an obviously fat first baseman would hurt the film’s authenticity, since real major league first basemen (OK, with the exception of Prince Fielder) don’t look fat. Hatteberg certainly didn’t, so realism was an issue, since Pratt was playing a real-life character.

But Lawrence is playing a fictional character from a book. Does she really have to look exactly the way we perceived her character in the text? Surely by now critics must be accustomed to seeing actors and actresses who often look strikingly different than the characters from a book or a person from real life.

Kate Winslet doesn’t look remotely like the Mildred Pierce character, as described by James M. Cain in his novel “Mildred Pierce,” or for that matter, like Hanna Schmitz in “The Reader.” It’s Winslet’s acting chops that make the portrayals come to life, not her physical resemblance to the characters. Ditto for Meryl Streep's fabulous take on Julia Child in "Julie and Julia."

It’s especially disappointing to see Dargis of all people focusing on Lawrence’s figure, since she has written so eloquently and hilariously — see her withering review of the Farrelly Brothers’ “Hall Pass” — about the casual sexism in modern-day Hollywood films. If Dargis, or any of the other critics, thought Lawrence was miscast in the film, fair enough.

But it would have been simple enough to put the blame on director Gary Ross, the filmmaker who made the call. Lawrence looks like a believable woman, not some curvy, Kardashian-style cartoon. After years of carping about the lack of strong women characters in Hollywood movies, isn’t it time the critics showed a little more respect when one comes along?

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-- Patrick Goldstein

Photo: Jennifer Lawrence, right, in a scene from the film "The Hunger Games." Credit: Murray Close/Lionsgate

 

 


Box Office: 'Hunger Games' has third-highest debut ever [Video]

March 26, 2012 | 12:18 pm

The Hunger Games was the No 1 film at the box office this weekend
"The Hunger Games" had the third-highest debut ever at the box office over the weekend -- not accounting for inflation -- raking in an estimated $155 million in ticket sales.

The movie about teenagers battling to the death resonated with young and old alike, as 56% of the audience was over age 25. The film, which stars 21-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, also attracted more men than the most recent "Twilight" movie was able to pull in. Roughly 61% of those who saw "The Hunger Games" this weekend were women, compared to a 80% female contingent for the last "Twilight" installment.

So what does the massive box office haul mean for its studio backer, Lionsgate? And just how many tickets will the film be able to pull in by the end of its theatrical run? Check out this week's box office video review for details.

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--Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Stanley Tucci and Jennifer Lawrence star in "The Hunger Games." Credit: Lionsgate


'The Hunger Games:' Five lessons from its box-office success

March 26, 2012 |  7:00 am

"The Hunger Games," starring Jennifer Lawrence and directed by Gary Ross, grossed $155 million at the box office this weekend while earning strong reviews

We all knew Jennifer Lawrence's "The Hunger Games" would be big. But if you actually guessed $155 million in domestic receipts in the office pool, we can only imagine how well you're doing in your March Madness brackets.

So with the film's massive opening -- the third-biggest ever and the biggest ever for a non-sequel, discounting inflation -- what nuggets are glean-able from the popularity of the Suzanne Collins adaptation? A partial rundown:

Literacy rates. As film source material goes, novels' stock has been dropping faster than Duke's title chances did in the NCAA men's basketball tournament this year. Toys, games and sequels of long-dormant properties have in recent years been considered the way to go if you wanted a big hit. But a bestselling book is, perhaps more than ever, the strongest marketing tool a studio can have. Any doubters need only look at the box-office chart: With "The Hunger Games," four of the top six opening weekends in history come from books.

PHOTOS: Meet the main cast of 'The Hunger Games'

The indie effect. The Sundance and mainstream film worlds have been diverging more than intersecting lately -- just look at all the flops that came out of the 2011 crop. It takes a long time for movies, and actors, to make the winding journey from indieville to Hollywood success, if they make it at all. But "The Hunger Games" offers a counter-argument: Just two years ago at Sundance, the two biggest breakouts were "Winter’s Bone" and "The Kids Are All Right." They starred -- and catapulted to success -- two total unknowns by the name of Jennifer Lawrence and Joshua Hutcherson.

Director's paradise. In the post-Christopher Nolan era, there's a lot of attention paid to who producers of a major franchise hire to direct their film. And let's face it: Gary Ross wasn't exactly a hot commodity coming in to "The Hunger Games." In fact, he hadn't directed a movie in nearly a decade. Yet with the teen action pic, he made a movie that not was only a mega-blockbuster but garnered solid reviews (71% positive, according to Movie Review Intelligence).

Kids will be kids. Sure, you could make a tidy sum by selling a movie about kids to kids. But will adults see a youth-oriented film not named "Harry Potter"? If there are some pleasures and themes for them, it turns out they will. Though "The Hunger Games" is about teenagers and is a property devoured by same, more than half the audience for the Lionsgate film this weekend was above the age of 25.

Things look better in 3-D? Perhaps the biggest rebuttal this weekend to a piece of conventional wisdom. For the last few years, the thinking has gone that the gloss of 3-D -- not to mention the higher ticket prices -- was the way to really profit from a movie. But "The Hunger Games" had the biggest-ever opening for a non-sequel by telling its story in good old-fashioned 2-D.

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--Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Jennifer Lawrence in "The Hunger Games." Credit: Lionsgate


'Hunger Games': Jennifer Lawrence reaps praise from critics

March 23, 2012 |  1:55 pm

The central figure in the film "The Hunger Games" and its source material, Suzanne Collins' young-adult novel about a post-apocalyptic society where teenagers are forced to engage in an annual televised death match, is 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a brave, resourceful and reluctant competitor. Katniss, as played by Academy Award-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone"), is also the focus of many of the film's reviews, and most critics agree she's up for the task.

In his positive review for The Times, Kenneth Turan calls the film "an involving popular entertainment with strong narrative drive that holds our attention by sticking as close to the book's outline as it can manage."

Among the relatively minor changes made by the screenwriters (Collins, director Gary Ross and Billy Ray), Turan commends the most prominent one: "elimination of the book's first-person structure, which allows for scenes ... that were not in the novel." Above all else, the film succeeds based on the strong lead performance by Lawrence, "an actress who specializes in combining formidable strength of will with convincing vulnerability."

PHOTOS: Meet the main cast of 'The Hunger Games'

Slate's Dana Stevens writes that "The Hunger Games" film adaptation "isn't quite as crackingly paced as the novel, but it will more than satisfy existing fans of the trilogy and likely create many new ones." She adds, "The key to making this adaptation work was the casting of Katniss Everdeen," who Stevens notes appears in nearly every scene. Luckily, "The film's producers nailed it in picking Jennifer Lawrence ... who carries the whole film on her sturdy shoulders." Among the film's stumbles, Stevens says, are the dumbing down of the character Gale (Katniss' male best friend, played by Liam Hemsworth), the cleaning up of the character Haymitch (Katniss' mentor, played by Woody Harrelson) and the narratively unsatisfying cliffhanger ending.

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'Hunger Games' fans set up camp at L.A. Live

March 11, 2012 | 11:47 pm

Fans gather Sunday at L.A. Live ahead of "The Hunger Games" world premiere.

"I feel like a zombie," Jennifer Lawrence said to a fellow cast mate, as she eyed a line of fans that swirled around the courtyard of the Nokia Theatre.

On Sunday -- Lawrence's first day off in weeks -- the actress had made the trek to downtown Los Angeles to sign posters and pose for photographs with some of the 400 fans who were camped out in advance of the film's premiere the following day. 

"I knew people were camping out, and I couldn't not come," the 21-year-old said moments later in an interview, dressed in an expensive-looking white leather jacket, her hair perfectly coifed into Shirley Temple-esque ringlets. "When the first 'Harry Potter' came out, I would have camped out -- absolutely. By the time I was 13, I had read the book three times. If I grew up in England, I would have been that person."

Lawrence and the rest of "The Hunger Games" cast -- which includes Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson -- have devoted much time lately to promoting the highly-anticipated film, out March 23. They have one more stop left on a cross-country mall tour and will soon embark on an international press tour. 

For her part, Lawrence appeared well-equipped to handle her duties. As each fan approached her, she smiled dutifully, chirping "Hi!!" and saying "thank you" for any number of the multiple compliments she received. 

The small group who got the chance to meet the actress on Sunday was made up of hardcore fans who had arrived in the wee hours of the morning. The first 400 people in line at 6 a.m. were allowed into the space outside the Nokia, where they lugged tents, sleeping bags and folding chairs into the courtyard they'll call home until Monday afternoon, when they'll have to clear out to make way for a massive red carpet.

On Sunday afternoon, those fans who had made it into the encampment appeared to be relatively subdued. Some visited a KIIS-FM radio both, while others took free popcorn from a food truck. Many sat on blankets they'd set up over the concrete, sifting through gossip magazines or eating junk food -- cans of Pringles, cases of Krispy Kreme donuts and Little Caesar's pizza boxes were all popular choices.

Fans came from all over the country to catch a glimpse of the fledgling franchise's stars. Lauren Hernandez, 12, said she'd persuaded her father to make the relatively short drive from Sherman Oaks by "getting good grades and giving him lots of hugs." Amanda Belcher, 29, used her vacation days at a public relations firm to fly from Scranton, Pa. to L.A. in the hopes she'd be one of the lucky 400. And AJ Sutter, 19, was spending his college spring break with a friend in Hollywood so the two could go on a joint "The Hunger Games" trek.

"Jennifer Lawrence is really, really hot. I can't say too much, because I have a girlfriend back at home," said Sutter, a 19-year-old from Wisconsin dressed in a basketball jersey. His girlfriend, he said, was extremely jealous that he was set to meet the film's cast -- so he planned to bring her back a signed poster. 

Moments later, that dream was dashed. Sutter was next in line to meet Lawrence when the actress was whisked into a black SUV. Instead, he only received the signature of secondary cast member Isabelle Furhman.

"I'm pretty depressed," he pouted after exiting the queue. "Now she's just gone."

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--Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Fans gather Sunday at L.A. Live ahead of "The Hunger Games" world premiere. Credit Eric Charbonneau/WireImage)


'Hunger Games' trailer shows Katniss in action [video]

November 14, 2011 | 11:41 am

Hungergames

Much to the relief of "Hunger Games" fans worldwide, Lionsgate finally has debuted its first full-fledged trailer for the dystopian adventure due out March 23.

In a few short minutes we meet vulnerable but strong heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and see the ostentatious Capitol that serves as a brilliant contrast to the poor, drab environments that make up District 12, from which both Mellark and Everdeen hail.

For "The Hunger Games" uninitiated, Suzanne Collins' bestselling novel depicts a future in which the opulent Capitol rules the planet and the majority of districts are impoverished nations that must serve the central government. As a reminder of a previous uprising against the Capitol, an annual "Hunger Game" contest is put into place in which two youths between ages 12 and 17 from each of the 12 districts are forced to compete in a brutal fight to the death. As the trailer says, only one comes out.

Director Gary Ross seems to have gone all out in capturing the Capitol's opulence with the garish Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks, cheerfully determining the fates of these impoverished kids. We see quick glimpses of Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman and Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane, and we also get a quick peek at Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, a previous Hunger Games winner, now a useless drunk who serves as Peeta and Katniss' biggest ally.

Katniss' District 12 pal, and unrequited love, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), is given prominent placement in the trailer, suggesting that the character who mostly appears in Katniss' memories throughout the book will receive some solid screen time in the upcoming movie.

The trailer will debut on the big screen this weekend in front of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1."  Check it out below.

 

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Photo: Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth in "The Hunger Games." Credit: Murray Close /  Lionsgate

 


'The Hunger Games' footage: forest, fireballs and braids [video]

August 29, 2011 |  1:39 pm

Hungergames

In the future, there is Gore-Tex. And also trees. That’s what we learned from the scant 45 seconds of “The Hunger Games” footage Lionsgate revealed during MTV’s Video Music Awards Sunday.

In the teaser, Jennifer Lawrence gallops through a dense forest as 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, one of 24 kids forced to fight to the death in an outdoor arena game. Lawrence, who has already demonstrated action heroine potential by gutting a squirrel in “Winter’s Bone” and pumping iron in “X-Men: First Class,” delivers on Katniss’ scrappy athleticism--she dodges fireballs, leaps over a fallen tree and releases an arrow with a fierce glint in her eye. Over the action, the voice of Katniss’ hometown pal, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), hints at one of the relationships that drives her character. “You’re stronger than they are,” Gale says. “You are. They just want a good show, that’s all they want. You know how to hunt. Show ’em how good you are.”

 

“The Hunger Games,” directed by Gary Ross, is the first in a planned series based on a trilogy of dystopian young adult novels by Suzanne Collins. The teaser footage, which Lawrence introduced from the movie’s North Carolina set, reveals little of the visual ambition of the books' science-fiction setting. There is no sign of District 12—the bleak, coal mining region from which Katniss hails—nor the sleek Capitol District, where the stylish and powerful reside. Also absent are the series's fantastical fashions, such as Katniss’ “girl on fire” dress, and mutant creatures, like the arena’s deadly “tracker jacker wasps.” The movie’s hairdressers have delivered Katniss’ distinctive side braid—this may replace Princess Leia’s buns as a new generation’s Comic-Con coiffure of choice—but her wardrobe suggests the future looks a lot like a Lands’ End catalog.

Though minimal, the footage contained a hint to find more visual detail about the movie. A Twitter hashtag in the teaser, #whatsmydistrict, points users towards a viral website, with a blurred, black image, some discordant electronic beeps and a note in the corner prompting "citizens” to identify themselves via Twitter. After a few hours of people tweeting the site's address, the image appeared to begin forming into the seal of the Capitol District. (Here Lionsgate is taking a page from the viral campaign for “Dark Knight Rises”—as more people Tweeted the phrase “The Fire Rises” in May, a blurry image clarified into a mosaic photo of Tom Hardy as the "Batman" villain Bane.)

"The Hunger Games" also stars Josh Hutcherson as Katniss' arena partner, Peeta Mellark; Woody Harrelson as her booze-addled mentor, Haymitch Abernathy; Elizabeth Banks as her airhead escort to the Capitol, Effie Trinket; and Lenny Kravitz as her faithful stylist, Cinna.

"The Hunger Games" opens March 2012.

 

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--Rebecca Keegan

twitter.com/@thatrebecca

 

Photo: Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games." Credit: Murray Close/Lionsgate
http://thecapitol.pn/

'The Hunger Games' offers a low-calorie snack

August 25, 2011 |  9:50 am

We’ve gotten used to teasers, those frequently Yahoo- and MTV-hosted video nuggets that predate the trailer, often by weeks or months, of a youth-oriented movie.

But the frenzy around “The Hunger Games” is such that Entertainment Weekly has posted a tiny byte of footage –- mainly it’s Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen looking scared; you can see it below-- to promote the teaser that MTV will air during the Video Music Awards on Sunday (itself a compression of what likely will eventually be included in the trailer). So basically, it’s an excerpt of an excerpt of an excerpt.

Yes, it has come to this.

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The Hunger Games: is Jennifer Lawrence the new Katniss?

 --Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT


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