5:20pm PT by Sophie Schillaci
Inside 'The Hunger Games' Premiere: Crying Teens, a Dangerous Stumble and the Middle Finger
Fans of all ages turned out for the March 12 world premiere of The Hunger Games at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth followed a dizzying number of tribute actors down the black carpet on the chilly Monday evening, which had female attendees shivering in their sleeveless gowns. Along with the sea of actors, execs and journalists, notable guests included Hemsworth’s girlfriend Miley Cyrus, her mom Trish, Kelly Osbourne, David Beckham with son Brooklyn, Peter Facinelli with daughter Luca, Blake Shelton with wife Miranda Lambert (who appears on the Lionsgate film’s soundtrack), Cody Simpson, Shailene Woodley, Trevor Donovan, Leslie Mann, Stephen Baldwin, Benjamin Bratt, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Kate Beckinsale and, curiously enough, Sylvester Stallone.
Inside the theater, Lionsgate's soon to-be-leaving motion picture group president Joe Drake took the stage before the screening to praise the work of his marketing team. He then introduced director Gary Ross, who went on to congratulate his cast, crew and Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins. "None of us would be here if it weren't for the beautiful mind and imagination of Suzanne Collins," Ross told the crowd. He then introduced lead actors Lawrence, Hutcherson and Hemsworth, who took the stage. "I thank God for her every day," Ross said of Lawrence, who stars as Katniss Everdeen.
After the glowing introduction, all eyes were on Lawrence as she made her entrance in a glittering gold Prabal Gurung gown.
The actress flashed a bright smile to the audience before fixing her gaze on her co-stars — and then tripped over the front of her gown. Amid a theater full of gasps and giggles, Lawrence caught herself and proceeded toward Ross with her hand over a wide smile. "She does comedy, too!" the director teased. Upon exiting the stage, Hutcherson feigned a trip of his own, to which the actress flashed something else -- her middle finger.
Ross took time out to thank many of the hard-working members of his cast and crew. In addition to drawing attention to the stars onstage, there was one actor in particular who received a heartfelt shout-out from the director. He called out to Donald Sutherland (President Snow), proclaiming that he could not have made the movie without him. Ross added that he looks forward to Sutherland's contributions to the next three films in the series.
Before the screening, Ross told THR that he had kept the second film in mind while creating the first -- specifically with regard to Sutherland’s character. “A lot of stuff with Donald Sutherland, a lot of the President Snow stuff, we added in the first [movie] that kind of knitted these together a little bit,” he said. “But it's a pretty good stand-alone narrative.”
The 142-minute film drew gasps, chuckles and boisterous applause.
Guests then were ushered into a dark tent on the event deck at L.A. Live, where partygoers encountered an entrance strikingly similar to that in which Peeta and Katniss made their stunning, flame-filled debut as tributes in the Capitol. The wide-open space featured a perimeter filled with buffet lines, complete with roasted vegetables, chicken breasts and crab-cake sliders, and there was a dessert table at the center of the room. Sprinkled throughout were bars, miniature fountains and tables with simple, paper "Reserved" signs propped up. Ross' table remained empty all evening as the director schmoozed with guests. A glowing Cyrus lounged with friends while Hemsworth stood by and Hutcherson happily posed for photos. As for Lawrence's table, a busy security guard kept occupied by telling bystanders to "keep movin' " and informing fans seeking personal photos that the actress was "not doing that." Lawrence did, however, sign many autographs for fans earlier in the evening.
As is typical of younger-skewing blockbusters, the Hunger Games afterparty was packed with children and preteens. So many, in fact, that actor Woody Harrelson offered up his table to a crew of kids as he stood by with a fellow actors and guests.
As fans clamored to catch a peek of the three leads, there was one unexpected actor on hand also prompting tears and shrieks of "Oh my God!" Glee star Darren Criss arrived later in the evening, causing one unsuspecting teenager to burst into tears. Needless to say, she got her picture.
As THR previously reported, Lawrence, Hutcherson and Hemsworth are signed to reprise their roles throughout the four-film franchise. In August, Lionsgate announced that the second film in the series is scheduled for release on Nov. 22, 2013.
Hutcherson told THR on the carpet that though he has yet to begin prepping for it, he can’t wait to get back into character.
“When I saw the first one — I saw The Hunger Games a few weeks ago — it got me really amped up to shoot the second one,” he said.
After all the Monday night festivities, it was back to the grind Tuesday, with flights booked bright and early to continue the film’s promotional blitz in Europe. Lawrence, Hutcherson, Hemsworth and Ross were to make their first stop in London, where the film makes its European debut March 14.