Inside the 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Premiere: The Victory Tour Lands in L.A.

Jennifer Lawrence at the L.A. premiere
Jennifer Lawrence at the L.A. premiere
 AP Images

After a whirlwind world tour, the stars of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire returned to the U.S. for the Los Angeles premiere on Monday night.

Much like the Victory Tour that takes Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) through the 12 districts after their win in the deadly Hunger Games rockets them to celebrity status, the stars of Lionsgate's sequel have spent the past week traveling the world, with premiere stops in London, Berlin, Madrid, Rome and Paris.

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The entire cast, including Lawrence, Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Willow Shields, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and director Francis Lawrence, were back in L.A. on Monday night, walking the long red carpet at downtown's Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live.

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Francis Lawrence told THR that of all the stops on the world tour, Rome was the craziest.

"We were at the Rome Film Festival, and there were probably 10,000 people," he said on the red carpet. "It was insane. I've never seen anything like it."

Francis Lawrence, who has already begun shooting the next installment in the franchise, Mockingjay: Part I, said the cast will head back to resume shooting right after Thanksgiving, on Dec. 1.

The director had plenty of praise for his film's star, Jennifer Lawrence. "She's a giant goofball, but she's an amazing actress," he said. "I've never seen somebody who is so intuitive. She just understands people, and emotion and behavior, and she's a great read of people. I think she's able to use that in an astonishing way."

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The screams from the crowd who lined the red carpet -- some of whom had been waiting downtown since the night before -- were deafening when Lawrence finally arrived, showing off her new short haircut and wearing a dark gray Dior Haute Couture gown that featured a bodysuit under a textured sheer gray overlay. She signed plenty of autographs, bringing some fans to tears.

The attendance list for the Catching Fire premiere read like a who's who of Young Hollywood. Guests included Jaden and Willow Smith, who walked the carpet hand in hand, Sarah Hyland, Joe Jonas, Ashlee Simpson, Kylie Jenner, Bella Thorne, Lyndsy Fonseca, Chord Overstreet, Kiernan Shipka and Liam's brother Luke Hemsworth.

In the theater, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer took the stage to greet the enthusiastic crowd.

"I should say, 'Welcome, welcome, welcome,'" he said, giving a tip of the hat to Effie Trinket's (Banks) infamous greeting.

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"It's great to see so many friends here tonight. As a matter of fact, I didn't know I had so many friends until I started getting phone calls last week from people looking for tickets for tonight," continued Feltheimer, getting a laugh from the crowd.

"After a long week of premieres in London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and Rome, we're back here in the Capitol," he said, before thanking the fans for their enthusiastic support.

Feltheimer then welcomed Francis Lawrence to the stage, who went on to call the cast onto the stage. Banks, who had worn a long, bright orange Atelier Versace gown on the red carpet, had changed into a shorter dress for the screening and afterparty. When Claflin took the stage, he did a quick jump and heel-click in the air, followed by a small stumble.

The crowd at the screening was a boisterous one, especially from the back half of the theater where most of the die-hard fans were sitting. They squealed, squirmed and shrieked at various points during the film, letting loose especially loud cries when Katniss would kiss one of her love interests.

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After the screening, the stars and other moviegoers walked across the street to the afterparty held in a large tent in the upper parking lot. At the tent's entrance, several well-built drummers greeted the crowd as they walked the short red carpet into the party.

Inside was a setup that would have made the most fashionable citizens of the Capitol jealous. White roses (a nod to President Snow) were everywhere, in large vases on the tables and floating in giant columns of water. Models dressed in Capitol Couture roamed the party, taking photos with attendees. Around the outer section of the tent were dinner buffets featuring roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, mushroom ravioli, green beans and braised beef. Underneath the many spotlights lighting the room were dessert buffets as lavish as in the film, stacked with cake pops, macaroons and banana cream pie.

The only thing missing from the afterparty were a few of the stars -- Jennifer Lawrence, Hemsworth and Hutcherson did not attend because they would be flying to New York early the next morning for their final stop on the Victory Tour, a New York media day and then a screening on Wednesday. Additionally, Lawrence was feeling a bit sick, likely due to her taxing promotional schedule.

But plenty of attendees gathered around Claflin, who plays the handsome Finnick in the film, to ask for photos, while Banks and Harrelson -- wearing jeans and a baseball hat with his suit coat -- stayed until nearly midnight.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens in the U.S. on Nov. 22.

Email: Rebecca.Ford@THR.com
Twitter: @Beccamford

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