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MAR
24
2 YEARS

'Hunger Games': 'It Would Have Been Impossible' Without Jennifer Lawrence, Says Director (Video)

With the Lionsgate adaptation headed for a $140-$150 million showing on opening weekend, hear what Gary Ross and the "Games" cast had to say to THR before the film's big debut.

The odds are in The Hunger Games' favor.

On Friday alone, the Gary Ross-directed Lionsgate adaptation of Suzanne Collins' novel raked in $68.3 million at the domestic box office -- the best opening day for a non-sequel ever -- and is headed for a $140-$150 million opening weekend. This comes nearly two months after Ross and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth graced the cover of The Hollywood Reporter magazine, where they discussed how they got the job, the rigors of filming and the Hunger Games phenomenon.

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes of THR's "Hunger Games' Cover Shoot

In the behind the scenes video from the THR cover shoot at Beverly Hills' Four Seasons Hotel, Ross waxed poetic about a film that would have one of the biggest box office openings -- and a diehard fanbase.

"It's a wonderful feeling when you're part of a collective experience," Ross told THR earlier at the time. "Normally, you're making a movie and there's a certain amount of obscurity and you hope that people find it, but the fact literally you get to share this with everybody who is already connected to the story and you're part of something bigger."

He added: "It's a blast."

PHOTOS: New 'Hunger Games' Images Released

Loyal fans of the Games trilogy made noise when casting announcements came through for heroine Katniss, fellow tribute Peeta, best friend/hunting partner Gale and other pivotal roles. Lionsgate also took a pointed approach in announcing its tribute castings, by unveiling them via Facebook, in an effort to add social media to its marketing arsenal.

Ross also praised Lawrence's performance in the film, highlighting her immense talent.

"I think once a decade, you find somebody that's talented," Ross said. "I'm just a lucky recipient. You don't find this much talent in someone that often. Climbing trees, fighting, running through the forest, dropping out of trees and all of that."

"Her depth as an actress, how subtle she is, how passionate she is, her power as an actress, that doesn't come along very often and so if she wasn't there, I don't know what I would have done," he continued. "It would have been impossible."

Lawrence told THR earlier this year that training to get into shape to play Katniss was taxing.

"I trained about four hours a day," she said. "Trying to find what Katniss' body should look like put a lot of pressure on my shoulders. And it was stressful because I didn't want to disappoint anybody -- there was a lot of pressure to get your body to a place where an entire franchise is based [on it]."

Read THR's complete Hunger Games cover story >>