Guest Post: Your ‘Catching Fire’ Director’s Cut, Please!

In response to my post about the Hunger Games Film Franchise’s parting-of-ways with Gary Ross and where this leaves the adaptation of the series (I think “potentially a much better or much worse place”), I received the missive below from Hanna, which is a series of questions most HogwartsProfessors raders and film lovers are more qualified than I to answer. So I post it here for y’all to discuss how you would adapt the second novel in a screenplay; have at it!

This news about the Ross being out really is true and after this huge media kerfuffle no one (neither Ross nor Lionsgate) is going to backtrack.  But I would really like to hear from thinking book-first fans like you and the HogPro readers about the direction Catching Fire (the movie) should take.  What would your director’s cut look like?

1. What would you emphasize?
2. What would you cut out (it can’t be 20 hours, after all)?
3. What would you add that the book did not include?
4. What would you aim for in casting and developing the characters of Plutarch Heavensbee and the Quarter Quell Tributes?

I haven’t thought about it enough, yet except that I think you have to have more time in the arena [in this film] and more time devoted to the political developments in the districts.  I think that means you have to spend a lot less screen time in District 12 than they did in Hunger Games.    Your thoughts?


  1. 1. I would emphasize the growing undercurrent of the Rebellion. This would encompass high points from the book that point to the final scenes in the hovercraft with Haymitch, Plutarch, Katniss, and Gale: Gale’s beating, Cinna and Katniss’ interactions (especially Cinna’s brutal abduction),the bridal gown/Mockingjay dress, the Gamesmaker/Tribute sessions with Peeta and Katniss, the Alliance in the Arena…whatever can be effectively visualized along the storyline, but not necessarily explained in dialogue.
    2. No need to dwell on too many of Katniss’ observations re: Peeta and Gale if each relationship can be summarized through the developments in point 1. Visually note all the Tributes when they ride into the city square, but stay focused on Katniss/Peeta. Same for the interview night. Forget Katniss’ foray into the Meadow when the fence is re-electrified unless she can bring it up in conversation elsewhere.

    3. Maybe a flashback or two alluding to important info deleted in the first movie. In fact, quick visual glimpses of otherwise unmentioned events would go a long way in bringing about understanding of the bigger story. Otherwise, DON’T add anything not already in the book!
    4. Anthony Perkins would make a perfectly complex Plutarch! Or perhaps Sean Connery. The Tributes? I vote Zak Efron for Finnick, Dame Maggie Smith for Mags.

  2. Louise M. Freeman says

    I hope the visit to District 11 stays true to the book and is as well-done as the District 12 reaping in HG. I think a lot of the success of the Arena scenes will depend on the casting of Beetee: I keep picturing David Thewlis in the role for some reason. When I think Finnick I see Christopher Atkins in The Blue Lagoon… Zac’s blue eyes would work but they would need to dye his hair.

    And as much as I love Dame Maggie Smith, I don’t see them hiring an actress of her stature and having her play a woman who cannot speak other than to babble.

  3. Louise, I thought about Zac’s hair as well, then remembered Collins’ description of the “bronzed-haired” tribute. I don’t see bleach-blonde as much as that dark, reddish gold cast. The eyes…with Finnick, the eyes have to be killer. Remember how disappointed we were not to see Harry’s brilliant green orbs on screen? Still…Christopher Atkins would be a great choice if not for his age.

    Dame Maggie Smith’s appearance is just intriguing to me: she certainly has the talent to present her character full-on, without the need for coherent speech. Cloris Leechman might make a believeable Wiress!

    Gary Oldman as Plutarch?? Ooooh….

  4. Its so hard to leave things out of these amazing books since one thing really flows into another. I would say they start with katniss getting ready to leave and throw back in some of the stuff that has happend since they got home. The food day, and celebrations, Gale kissing Katniss, the fact they now live in Victors Village and how often Gale and her even talk let alone hunt. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ride through the cities is short. Even shorter than the time SC spends on it in her book. I wonder if they will even have snow show up at all at the interview and at Katniss’ house. I think they are goin to have a difficult time with this one.

    As far as actors…I like Alex pettyfer as Finnick. I also picture Emma Thompson in her Professor Trelawny getup as Nuts… Lol. I think that Stephen Root would be a great Volts. And no one really comes to mind when I think of Johanna. I think because she is so tough and not cutesy. It’s hard to really be like oh that girl would be amazing for the part…maybe that’s one reason Jennifer Lawrence got Katniss. She’s not all girly and gigglely…maybe Jennette McCurdy from I Carly she is a pretty tough character and I could see her wheel arround an axe as Johanna.. I keep wanting Anne Hatheway as Annie but I feel like she is too old for the part… I got no clue for Mags..some of the ladies mentioned are amazing actresses but I think this needs to be someone really old and maybe not as known.. Well that was my two cents on the matter. Thanks for letting me post.

  5. What I’m going to be keeping a sharp eye on is the gender balance. Collins is scrupulous in all three books about making characters just as likely to be female as male, including everyone from peacekeepers to rebels, military officers to doctors to refugees. Will the filmmakers respect that? Will we finally get to see an imagined world with as many active, differentiated, participating women as men?

  6. Returning because I just had a brilliant thought about Beetee, who should definitely be played by Michael Maloney. He has a talent for being endearing, sensitive and twitchy all at the same time. I’m having difficulty not filling up the cast in my head entirely with British actors. Hollie, I’d never heard of Alex Pettyfer, but I looked him up and you’re spot on, he is awwwful pretty. Is Jennifer Jason Leigh still too young to play Wiress?

    To more serious considerations, I hope they don’t repeat the common mistake in adaptations, seen in the first movie, of thinking that because the emphasis is now on visual shorthand, dialogue should be virtually thrown out altogether. And I want some clever scriptwriter to find some way to get across the moment when Katniss realises that avoiding the fight is not the way to protect Prim and people like her, because they are already being hurt. This must be a crucial turning point for many activists and freedom fighters in real life.

    I can’t believe this thread has so few responses, when you outline so many important considerations, in your post above. John, would you consider responding to your own questions for us a little? Because I have seen your nightmare, and it is Plutarch Heavensbee played by Harrison Ford.

  7. Hear, hear Orlando!!!! Professor, do chime in with your CF movie thoughts when your busy schedule permits.

  8. Hi PJ and Orlando. Those were actually my questions, but I second your request to hear from John about his take!

    You might also enjoy the ‘By the Book series that the folks at are running. You can read all sorts of terrific ideas about what’s likely to make the cut and what’s too important to leave out — including favorite bits of dialog. I’ve been chiming in with my thoughts, too.

    I’m loving Denise and Tiffany’s new series on mocking up a Mockingjay script using a classical approach to screenplay structure. You can read all about it in today’s issue of

    And for more on screenplay structure check out Paul Gorman on Dramatic Structure:

  9. Sorry, Hana, I didn’t read the introduction properly, I should have been aware the post was yours, since it does say “guest post” in great big letters at the top. Unfortunately, I find the comentariat at a bit wincemaking, but I would like to hear you expand on your thoughts about the balance between District 12 and the arena segments. I think you are right, largely because there was very little point in using the first arena for any character development (except for Rue and Peeta), whereas the interpersonal dynamic in the second is quite different.

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