The Ninjabot


Posted on July 9, 2015 at 6:22 pm by David "Snackbar" Edmundson


While San Diego Comic-Con is well known for showcasing superhero and comic book stories, it also houses a variety of different properties, including adaptations of popular novels. One such case is The Hunger Games, which may have been initially greeted as a YA Battle Royale knock-off, but quickly proved itself to be one of the best sci-fi franchises of recent memory. With this November’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, the series finally comes to a close, and director Francis Lawrence, producer Nina Jacobson, and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Willow Shields took the Hall H stage at Comic-Con for one last time to preview the concluding installment.

Panel Highlights

  • Before anyone from the film took the stage, a number of drummers all dressed in white surrounded mockingjay-2-600x437the stage and began, well, banging their drums. This was followed by “A Message from The Capitol” video, in which even more white-clad soldiers marched in unison as Katniss emerged between them, standing tall, strong, and ready for battle.
  • Moderator Conan O’Brien took the stage to wild applause from the crowd, announcing to everyone that he’s emphatically “Team Josh.”
  • On bringing the franchise to a close, producer Nina Jacobson—who ignited this film series by getting it going in the first place—said it’s been “a combination of trying to really nail it, and to make sure that it is really satisfying to a core.”
  • “It’s a very, very emotional conclusion,” says Jacobson.
  • Director Francis Lawrence said this is where Katniss gets back into action, after being a bit sidelined in Mockingjay – Part 1. “We get some real battle footage, and it’s some really exciting stuff.”
  • To portray the siege on the capitol, Francis Lawrence moved the production from Atlanta to Europe, which he says infused the crew with new energy after being in Atlanta for so long.
  • On her favorite Katniss moment from the entire franchise, Jennifer Lawrence had trouble thinking of a single moment, and Hutcherson (and the crowd) began yelling suggestions. When reminded of shooting the arrow into the sky, Jennifer Lawrence said, “Well…that wasn’t as climactic to shoot in person.” Finally, she said her true favorite Katniss moment is in the second movie but she didn’t want to spoil it.
  • the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-2-poster-389x600Following up on the cliffhanger with his character from Mockingjay – Part 1, Hutcherson said, “It’s a long road to recovery… In this movie they’re really trying to rehabilitate him and use him as a good guy to help the cause.”
  • Speaking about his character’s role in the final film, Hemsworth said, “Gale’s kind of been on the sidelines for a long time and kind of watching things happen, and he’s now fully in the mix.” He said he teams up with Jeffrey Wright’s character Beetee for a number of scenes in Part 2.
  • Willow Shields said the seeds for Katniss and Primrose’s evolution were planted in Mockingjay – Part 1, in which the tables began to turn and Prim began to take care of Katniss more than the other way around. That dynamic continues to evolve in Part 2.
  • What are they most excited to see resolved in this final film? Francis Lawrence said Part 2 has been the most gratifying film yet because it closes and ends the story.
  • On the love triangle aspect, Hemsworth says he and Hutcherson have a really emotional scene together in Part 2, adding, “There might be a kiss between Josh and I.” Jennifer Lawrence had no knowledge of the scene and kept interrupting Hemsworth, asking when this scene was filmed.
  • Jacobson says Part 2 is when Katniss finally takes control of her story and her destiny, after having many of her decisions made for her in the previous films.
  • Hemsworth and Hutcherson wrapped the day before the last day of filming, but they came back to watch the final scene being filmed—a scene between Lawrence and Woody. “There’s no way to say this without starting rumors, but that night we hugged and slept like puppies,” said Jennifer Lawrence, speaking about the emotional moment.
  • the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1-donald-sutherland-600x421The last day of production was in Berlin (not counting the epilogue), and afterwards they all went to a bar at which Francis made a really emotional speech, and then Jennifer was asked if she wanted to say anything and she froze.
  • If he could meet Gale, what would Hemsworth say to him? “It’s alright mate, there’s plenty of fish in the sea,” replied Hemworth, followed by plenty of laughter.
  • On which Katniss costume she’d most want to keep, Jennifer Lawrence singled out the wedding dress from Catching Fire, “because it’s understated,” and the wetsuits, “because they’d be fun to take to the beach.” More seriously, Jennifer Lawrence said she’d love to have the backpack from the first film because she has so many memories of storing her phone in there, but it’s on display in an exhibit in New York.
  • When asked if they could all do the Hunger Games whistle in unison, Hemworth and Hutcherson both replied that every time they try to do it, it sounds like the X-Files. Hemsworth then proceeded to whistle the X-Files theme, and Lawrence prodded Hutcherson to show off his (admittedly impressive) chipmunk sounds.


Above is a new promo released after the panel, and although the first full trailer did premiere at the panel, Francis said it “won’t go anywhere for a while.” The trailer features quite a bit of new footage, mixed in with some of what we saw in the previous teaser. It’s gorgeous, as we see Katniss descending on Snow’s palace/house, and it gets rather intense with Snow quipping, “Make no mistake, the game is coming to its end.” The central story sees all 13 districts united as they descend upon the capitol, but Snow and his gamesmakers have laid plenty of deadly traps in their way. It’s a really great trailer that teases moments book fans will recognize (look for brief flashes of the sewer sequence), without really delving too deeply into the third act.

Audience Q&A

  • the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1-capitol-soldiers-600x421When asked about the experience of filming the epilogue, Jennifer Lawrence said they shot in the field where they shot the first scene of the first movie and she started crying. But Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence were the only actors on set during the sequence, saying that Hemsworth and Harrelson weren’t part of shooting the epilogue.
  • How different is the epilogue from the book? Francis Lawrence said, “I think everybody here who loves the end of the last book will love the end of the last movie.
  • Have any of Jennifer Lawrence’s characters rubbed off on here? She said she hopes that Katniss might have influenced her in the sense of rising to the challenge when something is bestowed on here. “Something was bestowed upon Katniss in the same way that doing these movies was bestowed onto me.” After fumbling through her words (which were actually really nice), Jennifer Lawrence noted that this is her first interview in “like a year.”
  • On tackling the material from the book that happens in between the climax and the epilogue, Jacobson said, “I think one of the biggest challenges is that during the book, Katniss doesn’t know a lot about what’s going on around her.” The producer went on to say the series has always tried to stay attuned to Katniss’ point of view, so they had to find a balance between taking time to have real the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1-jennifer-lawrence1-600x360emotion and also have the propulsion that drives to the end.
  • “The consequence of war and violence” is what Francis says they’re really exploring towards the end of Part 2 with Katniss. He said he found it interesting and satisfying to sit with Katniss and watch her try to put herself back together.
  • What are they going to miss the most about filming the series? “You’re looking at it,” said Hutcherson, motioning to his cast mates. As he elaborated, Hemsworth and Jennifer reached out and started petting his face.
  • On what she hopes people take away from this series, Jennifer said, “It’s about hope and empowerment and being involved. At the beginning of this movie this was about one girl,” as the actress added that the franchise traces the evolution of a movement from one person to a revolution, stressing the importance of being involved in what’s going on around you. After this answer, Jennifer Lawrence literally dropped the mic and walked away.
  • How did Jennifer Lawrence bid goodbye to Katniss Everdeen? “I don’t realy feel like it’s happened yet… These movies really did change my life, and as Josh was saying, these people are still in my life.” She added that the changes that happened in her life during the movies were so permanent that she doesn’t think Katniss will ever leave her.
  • “I remember feeling frustration about Katniss as a hero, wanting her to be excited about being this hero. As I grew with her I understood how real and powerful her hesitation was to start this war, because it doesn’t solve problems sometimes.” – Jennifer Lawrence.


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