After winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark return home to District 12, where President Snow visits Katniss. Snow explains that her actions in the Games have inspired rebellions. He orders her to use the upcoming "victory tour" to convince people that her actions were out of love for Peeta, not defiance against the Capitol, otherwise Katniss's loved ones and the whole District will be destroyed, "just like District 13".
As the tour begins, Haymitch Abernathy warns Katniss and Peeta that the "show" of their relationship must continue for the rest of their lives. Katniss suggests they announce their engagement, which is approved by Snow, with their wedding to be staged at his mansion in the Capitol.
Katniss warns Gale Hawthorne of Snow's threat to kill both their families. Peacekeepers crack down on District 12, and Gale is publicly whipped after attacking new Head Peacekeeper Romulus Thread. Snow announces that the third Quarter Quell of the upcoming Hunger Games will involve tributes selected from previous victors. Katniss immediately devotes herself to ensuring Peeta's survival, and makes Haymitch promise to help. At the reaping, Effie Trinket draws Katniss and Haymitch's names, but Peeta immediately volunteers to take Haymitch's place.
Haymitch reveals that all the tributes are angry about being returned to the Games. For her pre-Games interview, Katniss wears a wedding dress, as ordered by Snow, but her stylist Cinna rigs it to transform into a representation of a mockingjay. Peeta announces on-air that he and Katniss secretly married and are expecting a baby, and the audience of Capitol citizens shouts for the Games to be stopped, to no avail. Just before Katniss enters the arena, Cinna is severely beaten and dragged away by Peacekeepers, as Katniss watches helplessly.
In the Games, Katniss allies with Finnick Odair and the elderly Mags, his mentor. When the arena's force field shocks Peeta, stopping his heart, Finnick revives him. The group flees from a poisonous fog, with Finnick carrying Mags, but when Peeta cannot go on, Mags sacrifices herself so that Finnick can help him. When mandrills attack, Peeta is saved by the unexpected sacrifice of a hiding tribute. The group escapes to the beach around the central lake, where Finnick greets District 3's Wiress and Beetee and District 7's Johanna Mason. Wiress discovers the arena is designed like a clock, with predictable, unchanging hazards each hour. As the team waits for the next hazard, Wiress is stabbed to death by Gloss, who alongside his sister Cashmere, Brutus and Enobaria, comprise the Careers. Katniss shoots Gloss dead with her bow, and Johanna kills Cashmere, but Finnick is stabbed in the leg by Enobaria.
Beetee suggests luring the Careers to the wet beach and electrocuting them by running his wire to the lake from a tree that is struck by lightning every 12 hours. The group separates to prepare the trap, but once alone Johanna suddenly hits Katniss over the head, stunning her, and cuts her tracker out of her arm. Katniss returns to the tree and finds an unconscious Beetee. Unable to find Peeta, Katniss almost kills Finnick, but he reminds her to remember "who the real enemy is", as Haymitch had advised her. Katniss attaches the wire to an arrow and shoots it into the arena's roof just as the lightning hits. The lightning strike knocks her unconscious, causes a power failure that brings down part of the dome and cuts off the Capitol's surveillance.
Katniss awakens in a hovercraft with Haymitch, Beetee, Finnick, and Plutarch Heavensbee, the head Gamemaker, who is revealed to be a rebel against Snow. He tells her they are bound for District 13, headquarters of the rebellion, and that half the tributes were recruited to help Katniss escape, as she is the symbol of the growing rebellion. They were unable to rescue Peeta and Johanna. Katniss is sedated after attacking Haymitch for not keeping his promise. She later awakens to find Gale by her side. He assures her that her family is safe, but District 12 has been destroyed.
Lionsgate announced that a film adaptation of Catching Fire would be released as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on November 22, 2013, as a sequel to the film adaptation of The Hunger Games, with principal photography to take place in September 2012. Simon Beaufoy was hired to write the script for the film and wrote two drafts before leaving after Gary Ross, director of The Hunger Games decided not to direct the sequel. The shooting timeframe was co-ordinated between Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox, in order to allow time for Jennifer Lawrence to shoot X-Men: Days of Future Past, the sequel to Fox's X-Men: First Class, in January 2013.
On April 10, 2012, it was announced that Gary Ross, director of The Hunger Games, would not return due to a 'tight' and 'fitted' schedule. Bennett Miller, Joe Cornish, Francis Lawrence and Juan Antonio Bayona were all being considered to direct the new film. On April 19, 2012, it was announced that Francis Lawrence was offered the director position for the film. According to sources, the adaptation needed to be done filming by December 2012 to fit Jennifer Lawrence's schedule. When X-Men: Days of Future Past lost its original director and shooting for the film was delayed till April 2013, Jennifer Lawrence was no longer needed to be filming in January 2013 and the shooting timeframe for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was extended to March (including several breaks due to the holidays and awards season). Lionsgate officially announced Francis Lawrence as the director for Catching Fire on May 3, 2012. Two days later, it was reported that Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine) was in talks to re-write the script for Catching Fire. On May 24, 2012, the film was renamed The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Arndt was confirmed as the new writer of the script. Arndt was paid $400,000 a week for re-writing the script. The film featured sequences filmed in the IMAX format.
In July 2012, it was announced that Jena Malone would portray Johanna Mason, that Amanda Plummer would portray Wiress, and that Philip Seymour Hoffman would portray Plutarch Heavensbee. Following this, in August 2012, it was announced that Lynn Cohen had been cast as Mags. Alan Ritchson was cast as Gloss on August 9, Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair on August 22, and Jeffrey Wright as Beetee on September 7.
Lawrence, Hutcherson and Hemsworth all dyed their hair for the movie once again. Lawrence went back into archery training in order to get in shape for the role while the supporting cast undertook training in preparation for the arena scenes.
Production officially began on September 10, 2012, with shooting concluding for some of the cast on December 21, 2012. After the Christmas break, filming resumed for two weeks in mid January for some of the main cast and was placed on hold for awards season. Principal photography resumed and concluded in March 2013. Shooting first took place in and around metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia and then moved to Hawaii, to shoot the arena scenes. The cast and crew were on a busy schedule, working 14-hour days and six days a week. In an interview with MTV, Josh Hutcherson confirmed scenes in the film would use IMAX cameras by stating, "They're shooting, I think, all the stuff in the arena is going to be IMAX". Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth were in Ringwood, New Jersey shooting District 12 scenes involving snow for the beginning of the film on January 31 and February 1. Jennifer Lawrence confirmed that she would fly out to Hawaii on February 25, the day after she won the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 85th Academy Awards to shoot for the final 9 days along with Claflin and Hutcherson.
In late March, filming occurred in the Universal Studios back lot and was kept extremely secretive. Witnesses reported of towers and fences on set. None of the main cast were believed to have been on set. Reshoots were scheduled for April 13 in Atlanta. With the base camp set up at Executive Park off North Druid Hills Road, filming also occurred at the Goat Farm Arts Center.
Francis Lawrence has estimated an hour of the film would be devoted to Arena scenes, and said that cameras would be mounted to avoid the shaky-cam look from the first film. In an IMAX featurette, Francis Lawrence also confirmed that scenes taking place in the Arena were shot on IMAX cameras to distinguish them from scenes external to the Arena. Approximately 50 minutes of the film's footage was shot in the IMAX format, through the use of three IMAX 15 perf/65mm film cameras.
Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen, gave pieces of McQueen's collection to costume designer Trish Summerville. Summerville collaborated with Indonesian designer Tex Saverio when designing Katniss' wedding dress for the Quarter Quell interviews.
British singer Ed Sheeran recorded three songs for the soundtrack, but Lionsgate declined the offer. On May 14, 2013, Alexandra Patsavas was listed in the credits as music supervisor, replacing T Bone Burnett from the first film. Coldplay were announced as the first official artist to be featured on the Catching Fire soundtrack album, with the song "Atlas", released worldwide on September 6, 2013. Christina Aguilera announced that her song, "We Remain", would be part of the official soundtrack of the film. Other artists featured on the soundtrack include Of Monsters and Men with "Silhouettes", Sia featuring The Weeknd & Diplo with "Elastic Heart", The National with "Lean", The Weeknd with "Devil May Cry", Imagine Dragons with "Who We Are", Lorde with "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", The Lumineers with "Gale Song", Ellie Goulding with "Mirror", Patti Smith with "Capitol Letter", Santigold with "Shooting Arrows at the Sky", Mikky Ekko with "Place for Us", Phantogram with "Lights", and Antony and the Johnsons with "Angel on Fire".
In October 2012, composer James Newton Howard confirmed that he would return to score the film. The score album was released on November 25, 2013. All songs written and composed by James Newton Howard, except "We're a Team" (co-written by Coldplay band members: Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, and Chris Martin.)
On November 16, 2012, the first teaser trailer was released with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 and revealed the official logo and tagline for the film. Lionsgate announced a sweepstakes competition where 12 fans would have their name listed in the film's credits. On January 11, 2013, Entertainment Weekly released a 2013 Preview edition of their magazine, with the first look of Lawrence as Katniss and Claflin as Finnick on the cover as well as several stills showcasing scenes from the film. On February 22, both Hitfix and the official Facebook page debuted two viral posters of the Victory Tour featuring Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta).
On January 28, 2013, CapitolCouture.PN, a promotional site for the film's fashion and culture, opened and could only be unlocked with a passcode. Once in, a picture of a blue chair appeared and told readers to check back on March 4. On March 4, 2013, the site began to release portraits of the various characters.
Alongside the announcement of the teaser trailer premiering at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, Lionsgate revealed a new website called TheHungerGamesExplorer. On April 10, the website was updated and fans had to tweet using the hashtag #HungerGamesExplorer to unlock new stills from the movie. A still could be unlocked every day leading up to April 14, 2013, the teaser trailer's release date.
The teaser trailer thus debuted at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards on April 14, presented by Liam Hemsworth, and the trailer was posted on TheHungerGamesExplorer and YouTube after the ceremony. "Beyond Fire" by T.T.L. was played as the trailer music.
An exclusive new trailer debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con International on July 20, 2013, also being released online on that day. Walmart released the first TV spot on their Facebook page on October 14, featuring Coldplay's song, "Atlas".
On October 27, 2013, during the fifth inning of game 4 of the 2013 World Series, the final trailer was released. Three days later, on October 30, 2013, a new IMAX poster for the film debuted.
The film premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square theater in London on November 11, 2013. The film was later released on November 22, 2013, in the United States in conventional and IMAX theaters. The film was also shown in the 4DX format in selected international territories. It features motion-enhanced seating, wind, water sprays, strobe lightning, and scent-based special effects. The film was released in 4,165 theaters in the US alone.
The Blu-ray/DVD release date for the film in the US was March 7, 2014.
Actresses Lynn Cohen and Stephanie Leigh Schlund, who played Mags and Cashmere in the film, respectively, promoted the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film with an appearance at the March 7, 2014 midnight release of the product at the Walmart in Secaucus, New Jersey. As of March 16, 2014, Catching Fire has sold 2,073,719 DVDs along with 2,186,430 Blu-ray discs for $35,565,263 and $43,832,928 respectively totaling $79,398,191 of revenue within two weeks of release.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 89% based on reviews from 253 professional critics, with a rating average of 7.6/10. The site's consensus reads: "Smart, smoothly directed, and enriched with a deeper exploration of the franchise's thought-provoking themes, Catching Fire proves a thoroughly compelling second installment in the Hunger Games series." It was the highest rated science fiction/fantasy movie of the year on the website. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 76 (indicating "generally favorable reviews") based on 49 reviews. According to polls conducted during the opening weekend by CinemaScore, the average grade audiences gave the film was an A, on an A+ to F scale.
The Hollywood Reporter said that the film has received "generally positive reviews" and CNN reported that reviews were "overwhelmingly positive" but noted that "an overarching complaint" was that it "runs needlessly long ... and the screenplay and direction do occasionally fall short." Entertainment Weekly said the consensus was that the sequel is "a more-confident, more-polished movie that delves deeper into Panem's political conflict". It also reported, "Critics are impressed that [Lawrence] commits to Katniss just as much as she would a complex David O. Russell character."
Writing for The Village Voice, Stephanie Zacharek praised Jennifer Lawrence's performance, writing that the actress is "both on fire and in the process of becoming, and it’s magnificent to watch." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 3.5 stars out of four and said, "Pop-culture escapism can be thrilling when dished out by experts. Katniss is a character worth a handful of sequels. And Lawrence lights up the screen. You'll follow her anywhere." He also commended supporting actors Sam Claflin and Jena Malone. Reviewing on Roger Ebert's website, Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today awarded the film three out of four stars, praising the acting of Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer and Jena Malone and referring to the challenges of the arena as "visually intriguing." Wloszczyna writes: "...the one truly fresh invention—and the one that matters most—is Katniss herself. With each on-screen chapter, the poor girl from District 12 continues to fulfill her destiny as an inspiration and a rebel fighter." Ian Nathan of Empire gave the film 4 stars out of 5 and noted that it was even better than the first film. He praised director Lawrence for "taking a more muscular approach" and "sensibly downplaying" the love triangle, noting that "neither [Peeta nor Gale], quite frankly, are fit to lay a pinky on [Katniss'] quiver". One fault he did find was in Philip Seymour Hoffman's "surprisingly ineffective performance".
A negative review came from Sophie Monks Kaufman of Little White Lies, who praised Lawrence's performance but criticized the "dilution of the ingredients that made The Hunger Games so gripping." She also found fault with the "lumbering" plot, the "hamminess" of President Snow and Plutarch Heavensbee and the "lackluster and unconvincing script culled from a dramatically difficult book". David Denby of The New Yorker argued that the premise "doesn't make a lot of sense". He praised the "impressive" first act and Jennifer Lawrence, for "project[ing] the kind of strength that Katharine Hepburn had when she was young." Denby found the second act "attenuated and rhythmless" and criticised the "incoherent" finale that "will send the audience scurrying back to the book to find out what’s supposed to be going on".
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire earned $424,668,047 in North America and $440,343,699 in other countries for a worldwide total of $865,011,746. Worldwide, it is the 52nd highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing film of The Hunger Games series, the highest-grossing film distributed by Lionsgate and the fifth highest-grossing 2013 film.
Outside North America, it is the highest-grossing film of The Hunger Games series, the highest-grossing film distributed by Lionsgate and the seventh highest-grossing 2013 film. On its first weekend, it was only released in Brazil (November 15, 2013), where it grossed $2.4 million on its opening day and $5.26 million for the weekend. On the following Wednesday and Thursday, it opened in 42 more territories, bringing its total to $32 million in a week. The film opened in 63 other territories and earned $138.4 million during the weekend ($146.6 million including its first week in Brazil). Its three largest openings occurred in the UK, Ireland and Malta ($19.8 million), China ($13.0 million) and Germany ($12.9 million). In total earnings, its largest countries are the UK, Ireland and Malta ($55.5 million), Germany ($43.4 million) and Australia ($34.3 million).
In North America, Catching Fire is the sixteenth highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing film of The Hunger Games series, the highest-grossing film distributed by Lionsgate and the highest-grossing 2013 film. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold more than 50 million tickets in the US. It became the first 2-D film since 2008's The Dark Knight, as well as the first film with a female lead since 1973's The Exorcist, to top the yearly box office. It is also the top-selling film in Fandango history, surpassing previous record-holder Avatar. The film earned $25.3 million during Thursday late-night showings. It topped the box office on its opening day with $71.0 million (including Thursday late-night showings), which is higher than its predecessor's opening day gross ($67.3 million) and is also the seventh largest single-day and opening-day gross. During its opening weekend, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire claimed first place with $158.1 million, opening higher than its predecessor ($152.5 million). This was the sixth highest-grossing opening weekend, the second highest-grossing opening weekend of 2013 and the highest-grossing opening weekend in November. It was in first place for two consecutive weekends. The film also broke the following records: the biggest Friday for a film in its second weekend, the largest 3-day ($74.2 million) and largest 5-day ($109.9 million) Thanksgiving gross. It achieved the fifth highest-grossing opening week (Friday-to-Thursday), the third highest non-opening Wednesday and the fourth-largest second weekend.
In July 2012, Lionsgate announced that two films based on the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, were scheduled to be released. The first film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, was released on November 21, 2014 while the second film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, was released on November 20, 2015. Principal photography on the two-part film began on September 23, 2013, in Atlanta and concluded on June 20, 2014, in Berlin, Germany.