The fictional state in the film is called Panem. This is derived from "Panem et Circenses," or "Bread and Games," which comes from the latter days of the Roman Empire, when the state has kept the masses satisfied only with free food and cruel games.
Jennifer Lawrence was paid what was, for her, the high fee of $500,000. It took her three days before she accepted the role because she was unsure how the role would clearly affect her career, since her background was largely on the indie film circuit. For The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), she was paid $10 million, 20 times more than the initial offer.
Since Jennifer Lawrence is friends with Lenny Kravitz's daughter, Zoë Kravitz, she couldn't get herself to use his first name. Instead, she called him 'Mr Kravitz' from the first day on. Kravitz quickly found out that the rest of the cast and crew also started to call him 'Mr Kravitz'.
Panem is located in a post-apocalyptic North America whose land mass has been reduced by rising sea levels. It is generally agreed that the Capitol is in the Rocky Mountains, possibly Colorado, and that the District 12 town where Katniss grew up is somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, possibly Kentucky or West Virginia.
On February 22nd, four weeks before The Hunger Games' release, Lionsgate began selling advance tickets. Not only did the ticket sales break the one-day record originally held by The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), but also accounted for 83% of the ticket sales of the day.
Donald Sutherland saw the script by accident and, when he read it, lobbied for the role of President Snow because the script reminded him of Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957). He succeeded in getting the role after he wrote a letter of plea to Gary Ross explaining why he should be cast.
During a New York Magazine interview, Wes Bentley said that the extremely unusual beard he wore as Seneca was styled from his own real beard, not created from applied pieces or extra hair. Bentley said that while he was in North Carolina filming the movie, he would often go to the local Target (a national department store chain) to buy things like baby formula while still sporting the "Seneca beard."
In the early scenes depicting life in District 12, a homage to Dorothea Lange's iconic Depression-era photo is seen in the shot of the lady looking out the window with her fingers on one cheek. Later in the film, the Reaping scene features images of the same grand neo-classical architecture, '40s style microphones, and red birds of prey banners that were all part of the Third Reich.
In the Extras on the 2 DVD edition, Gary Ross explains, "We were under tremendous financial pressure for this movie. It's under 80 million dollars, and it's a really really big movie. Other blockbusters cost twice or three times as much."
Elizabeth Banks plays a pivotal character in the story, who has become an iconic image in pop culture, yet this character's name (Effie Trinket) is never spoken in this movie but only in following sequels.
The first name of the main character, Katniss Everdeen, is derived from the name of a group of edible plant species, genus "Sagittaria", commonly known as "arrowhead." This is a reference to the character's archery skills. Her surname is a reference to Bathsheba Everdene who is the lead female character in Thomas Hardy's novel "Far from the Madding Crowd." Suzanne Collins, who wrote the novel that The Hunger Games is based on, said "The two are very different, but both struggle with knowing their hearts."
Although it is mentioned briefly that Gale has had his name put into the drawing multiple times, it is not fully explained in the movie why someone might want to do this other than when Katniss tells Prim when she comes to say goodbye not to put her name in more because it's not worth getting enough food. Each additional time a name is entered raises the possibility that the person will be selected to compete, and probably die, in the games. In the source novel, it is explained that putting your name in an additional time garners your family an additional portion of grain and oil, so families experiencing especially terrible privation may put their children's names into the drawing more than once in exchange for that small amount of extra food.
The director Gary Ross has stated that his decision to go with shaky cam work, "had a lot to do with [the] urgency of what's going on and [to reflect Katniss'] point of view." He also mentioned that he wanted to avoid a polished, static camera look at all costs, since that would reduce the violence to mere entertainment and be completely contrary to the movie's intention.
The character name of Effie Trinket, is the combination of the common Greek name 'Effie' (Euphemia) meaning "Well spoken" or "To speak well." And the word 'Trinket' as in a small ornament or item of jewelry that is of little value. Which when combined describes her character very well.
At the bottom right of one of the video screens showing Katniss, you can see A113. A113 is a common inside joke/Easter egg in films, referring to the number of a famous classroom used by graphic design and character animation students at the California Institute of the Arts.
Gary Ross wanted to make this movie after noticing his twin children were fans of the books. However, he was unaware that producer Nina Jacobson had already secured the rights. Suzanne Collins' novels were discovered by co-producer Bryan Unkeless, who then recommended them to Jacobson.
The name "Rue" in the dictionary has many different meanings. Some of which are, compassion, to feel sorrow over, to regret bitterly and to repent. Suzanne Collins chose wisely with her characters' names.
The Reaping scene is shot in extreme heat, so while the main characters got to escape to their trailers, while the extras were left to sit in the heat. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Elizabeth Banks felt so bad about it they gave free autographs to anyone who wanted one.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Seneca Crane never appears in the books, but he is not totally made up for the films either. He is first mentioned in the second book, when President Snow explains to Katniss that he had Crane killed for failing to get the single winner traditionally required by the games.
In the book, Peeta loses his left leg from the knee down due to Katniss making a tourniquet which saved his life. He later has it amputated after the games and replaced with a mechanical leg. In the film, this never happens, which causes inconsistency in the later installments.
In the book, there are as many "mutts" at the cornucopia as there were fallen tributes. In addition, they wear collars bearing their district numbers, their eyes are human, and their fur is the color of the hair of the fallen tribute each represents.
The Death Order is different in the books and films. The Girl from District 4 dies in the bloodbath in the film, but dies just before Glimmer by the tracker jackers in the book. Foxface dies before Thresh in the movie, whilst in the book she dies after him. Also, Thresh and Clove's deaths are different. In the book, it is implied that Cato kills Thresh, but in the film, it's implied that the mutts kill Thresh. Clove's skull gets crushed by a rock in the book. However, in the movie, Thresh shoves her against the cornucopia, which crushes her skull.