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'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire': 12 things to know before seeing the film

Posted by Emily Wright  November 19, 2013 12:15 PM

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The first film in the "Hunger Games" trilogy took the world by storm in 2012, and in just a couple of days, the second installment will likely do the same. If you haven't seen the first film (or read any of the books), here are 12 things you should know before stepping foot in the theater to watch "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," due out Friday.

1. The film is set in a fictional nation known as Panem, which includes 12 districts, much like our states. Each district is responsible for the production of a good or industry.

2. After a rebellion led by a now non-existent District 13, the Capitol (separate from the districts) created the Hunger Games to punish the revolutionaries.

3. The Hunger Games in a nutshell: Every year, a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 is chosen as a tribute from each district to compete in an arena and fight to the death. The last person standing is named the victor. Each arena is different and includes an unknown number of challenges. The people of the districts and of the Capitol watch the games on television sets. Depending on the popularity of the competitor, they can be sponsored by the wealthy, whose money is then spent on helpful gifts by the tribute's mentor.


Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty

From left: Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, and Josh Hutcherson attended the premiere of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" at the Rome Film Festival on Nov. 14.

4. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) are from District 12, which provides coal to the rest of Panem.

5. Gale and Peeta are in love with Katniss. Katniss is torn between the two, especially after growing close with Peeta during the first round of games where they "pretended" to be in love to gain popularity with viewers.

6. Katniss volunteered for the Hunger Games as a tribute in "The Hunger Games," in effect taking the place of her younger sister Primrose whose name was chosen in a lottery during a ceremony called the Reaping. There is a Reaping in each district.

7. Katniss is basically Prim's caregiver. Their father died in a mine collapse, and their mother is a psychological mess.

8. Peeta's family owns a bakery. He once tossed a loaf of bread to a starving Katniss who was hiding under a tree after her father's death. Their bond began here.


Murray Close/AP/Lionsgate

9. Katniss is proficient with a bow and arrow. Peeta is exceptionally strong and artistically gifted. These skills, along with several sponsored gifts, helped the characters survive the 74th Hunger Games.

10. After declaring that they would kill themselves if they could not both survive, Katniss and Peeta were both deemed victors of the 74th Hunger Games. Their rebellion inspired a revolt in the districts.

11. Every 25 years, a Quarter Quell takes place, allowing the Capitol to create a new rule for the Reaping. The third Quarter Quell features 24 competitors who were victors during previous games, a male and a female from each district. The age ranges of the competitors during the 75th Hunger Games varies widely.

12. Just one year after their inspiring win, Katniss and Peeta are selected to go back into the arena for the 75th Hunger Games.

Now that you're up to speed, check out some photos from the worldwide premieres of the film and find out where you can watch it in your area.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

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Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

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