“May the odds be ever in your favour” is the famous tagline getting The Hunger Games fans excited. Their favourite book has been made into a movie. And it only took four years since the book was published. That’s got to be a record. In terms of box office success, the odds are looking extremely favourable for this brand new franchise.

The Hunger Games - The world will be watching apparently

The début of three films hits cinemas this month, and the expected trilogy is all set to be a roaring success, thanks to a persistent PR machine and a ready built fan-base. We have no doubt there are plenty of you out there scratching your heads at the title, so we decided it’s about time we gave you the lowdown.

We feel the need to reassure you that despite the deceptive title, ‘The Hunger Games‘ is not about bloodsuckers, zombies or wizards. That said, it isn’t about a tea party either.

Based on the book series by Suzanne Collins, the film stars Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl attempting to survive the dystopia that is her reality. Other stars of the film include Josh Hutcherson (Journey to the Centre of the Earth), Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song), Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland.

So what do you need to know?:

The books

The Hunger Games trilogy of books have sold thousands

The Hunger Games is based on a trilogy of young adult novels written by Suzanne Collins. First published by Scholastic in 2008, they have gained a fan-base to rival the Twilight series. Only far more critically acclaimed. The book was on the New York Times Best Seller list for over 100 consecutive weeks, so a film adaptation was inevitable. The final two books Catching Fire and Mockingjay are set to be adapted too.

The Plot

When North America was destroyed by natural disaster and nuclear war, a nation known as Panem rose up from the ashes. Panem consists of the wealthy Capitol and the 12 surrounding districts. As a punishment for  a rebellion in the early years of Panem, each district is forced to randomly choose one boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to compete in The Hunger Games, a televised competition in which the kids brutally kill one another, while the entire nation is forced to watch. Think Gladiator, but with kids. The last one standing of the 24 competitors receives a lifetime of riches.

When Katniss’s 12-year-old sister Prim is chosen to compete for District 12, she volunteers herself to take her place. She, alongside her fellow Tribute Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson), must use her sharp instincts and training under the instruction of former winner Haymitch Abernathy (Harrelson) to battle Tributes from other districts, who have prepared their entire lives for this moment.

The film

It's behind you!

From the moment the film was announced, speculation began to circulate the media: how faithful will it be? Who is going to direct? Who will play the central characters? As a popular novel, fans the world over had their own ideas of who should play the characters.

The actresses rumoured to be in the running to play the protagonist, Katniss for example, included the likes of Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana) and Emily Browning (Sucker Punch). The film makers eventually settled on Jennifer Lawrence though, whose performance in Winter’s Bone gained her an Oscar nomination.

Other actors involved include, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz and Elizabeth Banks.

Fans of the books will also be pleased to know that the author of the trilogy, Suzanne Collins has been instrumental throughout the process, and helped write the screenplay alongside Gary Ross who directed the film.

Fans everywhere are praying it is a faithful adaptation. With Collins helping out though, it looks likely. JK Rowling kept a very tight reign on the Harry Potter movies, and they came out remarkably accurate, considering the amount to fit in. Statistically, a book that is faithful to the popular novel is far more likely to be a successful film, so we have our fingers crossed.

The characters

There are many characters in The Hunger Games, but we’ll give you the important ones:

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Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). The 16-year-old protagonist of the franchise, Katniss lives in District 12 with her mother and younger sister Primrose (Prim). Her father died in a mining accident years before the film is set. Best friends with Gale Hawthorne (Hemsworth), the two spend most of their time illegally hunting for food in the forest at the edge of her district, in order to survive. One of the striking things that comes across in the books is her no-nonsense and hard personality. She is focused and unforgiving, the person she cares about the most being her sister Prim. Her advantage during the Games is her skill with a bow and arrow.

Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Just like Katniss, Peeta is 16 years old. The male Tribute of District 12 is a baker's son living on the richer side of town. Peeta is a gentle and kind soul who has had a crush on Katniss since they were 5-years-old. The two never really spoke before the Games, although he did once save her from starvation by surreptitiously handing her two 'accidentally' burnt loafs, after her father died. His larger build and strength give him an advantage in the Games.

Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). Katniss and Peeta's Hunger Games mentor is a former Tribute from District 12, who won the 50th Hunger Games 25 years previously. Haunted by his nightmares about his own experience, the man is rarely sober. However he is convinced to help the two Tributes and guide them through the process when he figures out their strengths. Basically he is the difference between success and failure, when sober.