'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Movie Has Big Changes From the Book (SPOILERS)

Catching FireDid you see the awesome Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer that premiered at Comic-Con last month? I know studios can sometimes do a masterful job of putting the very best moments in the preview so you get all jazzed up and then the actual movie ends up being kind of tragically stupid (I'm looking at you, Pacific Rim), but past disappointments aside, I am SO looking forward to seeing this sequel on November 22.

As we inch closer to the release date, Catching Fire's director and producer recently took the unusual step of calibrating audience expectations for the movie -- specifically, how it will differ from the book. Maybe this is meant to preemptively deflate the outrage from diehard fans, I'm not sure. At any rate, here are four ways Catching Fire will be different from Suzanne Collins' novel.

(Warning: spoilers ahead.)


Let's start with director Frances Lawrence hastening to assure you that things haven't been altered TOO much:

The movie is very, very true to the book.

Whew. However, producer Nina Jacobson points out that adapting a 400-plus page book into a two-hour movie does involve making some strategic cuts here and there:

It’s as agonizing for us to lose things from the book as it is for a fan. I want every single thing in there. But you know what? If you have to give up something in order to give more time to Katniss and Gale or to Effie as she starts to feel a conscience, you make the sacrifices in order to serve the characters and themes that are more essential.

Here are the 4 confirmed Catching Fire changes we can expect to see in the theater:

Peeta can swim.

According to the director,

We made some changes to Peeta's narrative. We manned him up a little. And by the way, it didn't take a lot, just little choices to make here and there. The story doesn't really change, his relationship with Katniss doesn't change -- he's just a different kind of character.

How'd they 'man him up'? Apparently Movie Peeta, unlike Book Peeta, can swim, so when the Hunger Games kick off in an arena surrounded by water, he doesn't need help to make it to the beach.

Josh Hutcherson explains the decision thusly:

The option (was) either me drowning or sitting there like a cat batting my paw into the water. Either way the visual is horrible.

Don't expect to see Bonnie or Twill.

In the book, Katniss meets these District 8 refugees, who are the first to reveal to Katniss that District 13 might exist. Without these characters, the movie will serve up a different way for Katniss to learn about District 13 and the growing revolution she triggered with her previous act of rebellion. How this will play out remains to be seen, but the director says it was a fun challenge:

That's fun, figuring out new ways around things and new ways of doing things.

Also MIA: Darius, the District 12 Peacekeeper.

In the book, Darius was the one who tried to help Gale during his public whipping, and paid the terrible price for his actions. His character was cut for time constraints, but it'll be interesting to see how they address his absence in Mockingjay, since his ultimate fate in that book had an effect on Peeta.

Katniss doesn't get injured by the electric fence.

The novel describes how Katniss has to jump over an electrified fence to get into District 12, and bruises her tailbone and sprains her ankle doing so. Her family and Peeta take care of her, and their friendship grows stronger as a result. According to the Fall Movie Preview issues of Entertainment Weekly, the whole fence/injury scene isn't in the movie, which doesn't seem like a HUGE deal -- but they'll need to move that friendship forward in other ways.

What do you think of these changes? Are you bummed by any of the creative decisions so far, or do these all make sense?

Image via Lionsgate

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