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, but also accounted for 83% of the ticket sales of the day.
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".
The fictional nation in the film is called Panem. This is derived from "Panem et Circenses," or "Bread and Circuses," which comes from the latter days of the Roman Empire, in which the government would keep the masses satisfied not by performing their public services well, but by providing violent and deadly entertainments for the people to watch, which is rather fitting for the subject matter of the film.
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."
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.
Donald Sutherland saw the script by accident and when he read it, he lobbied for the role of President Snow because the the script reminded him of Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory. He succeeded in getting role after he wrote a letter of plea to Gary Ross explaining why he should be cast.
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, she was paid $10 million, 20 times more than the initial offer.
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.
In the early scenes depicting life in District 12, an 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.
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.