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Ministry of Gossip: 'Hunger' fans expected; games planned

The film of Suzanne Collins' book is already selling tickets like crazy. For the premiere at L.A. Live, Lionsgate prepares by re-creating 'The Hob.'

March 09, 2012|By Matt Donnelly, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Liam Hemsworth, left, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson sign movie posters Saturday at a "Hunger Games" mall tour event at Westfield Mall in Century City.
Liam Hemsworth, left, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson sign movie… (Katy Winn, Associated Press )

When "Hunger Games" premieres Monday, the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live will be more than just a screaming mass of fans watching stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth enter the building. For just one night, the L.A. Live plaza will be a version of "The Hob."

Named for the fictional black market where Lawrence's character Katniss Everdeen sells the fruits of her hunting in her native District 12 (the Hunger Games-era Appalachia), the Hob will take over L.A. Live plaza as a sort of small village where fans can interact, to some degree, with their new favorite movie.

The futuristic teen death match (you heard us) adapted from Suzanne Collins' bestselling novels is a cultural moment, not just a show-up-and-wave event for the stars. Beginning Sunday night, the scene transforms into a perk for die-hard fans.

"These fan-driven events are more than just premieres, they're all-out lifestyle experiences that let the fans step inside the world of the film and its stars," says Chad Hudson, whose eponymous company put on the last two "Twilight" premiere events, which took the form of fairly elaborate tent cities for fans. He also put on the after-parties for the casts.

Both "Eclipse" and "Breaking Dawn — Part 1" debuted at the Nokia, and those events saw a unique blend of direct marketing and appreciation — with full-scale concerts, free tents and omnipresent Burger King grub available to the vampire lovers at the "Breaking Dawn" premiere in November. Not to mention cast members like Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone and Peter Facinelli coming down to feed and engage the legions of fans and sign autographs. We can see "Hunger Games" following suit.

Production company Lionsgate is still not releasing many details to its community of "Hunger" lovers — so far, it's been emphasizing safety and encouraging online viewing. But food and activities will be provided for devotees.

"We are so excited to welcome fans to the red carpet world premiere … and to share this moment together," a Lionsgate rep said.

With only one installment left in the "Twilight" saga, producers hope that fiction fans, tweens and stargazers have enough appetite to turn another epic series into a marketing juggernaut.

Supporting cast members Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson will be on hand to acknowledge the groundswell of love for the project — the film is already a hit in online ticket presales.

About 400 slots have been set aside for watching arrivals and the premiere screening, to be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans can lineup starting at 8 a.m. Sunday to receive the limited wristbands.

Yahoo will stream the premiere live starting at 5:30 p.m. PST, but fans might come out to experience the live event instead. The kickoff of a "Hunger Games" mall tour recently attracted hundreds of fans to Century City's Westfield Mall.

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