Easy to Miss

Sometimes, when hearing unconfirmed rumors regarding the Hunger Games movies, we’re so wrapped up in wanting confirmation at the time, but then, we don’t even realize it when we get it if it comes with other, shinier treasures like the first movie stills. In the Entertainment Weekly article that came out last week, there was a lot of that going around, but what really jumped out at me was the news about just why Michael Arndt was tapped for the screenplay.

To refresh your memory, here is the quote:

Originally Simon Beaufoy was hired to write the adaptation under Ross’ supervision. When Ross left, so did Beaufoy.

Huge news for us since we had NOT heard a thing before this saying that Beaufoy actually backed out completely; we just assumed that Arndt was doing rewrites. Rather unfortunate, but that’s Hollywood for you.

But that’s not all. It continues with:

Director [Francis] Lawrence and author Suzanne Collins holed up for three days in her publisher’s office with take-out food and chocolate. Together they drafted the film’s outline.

Again REALLY big news. One of the biggest questions we had about Catching Fire prior to this article was just how involved has Suzanne Collins been this time around. We all knew about how well she and Gary Ross worked together, but there was a huge question mark about her and Francis Lawrence. So ten or so months down the line, when the inevitable grumbling about why such and such was changed or left out of the movie, we will know that Suzanne Collins had a say.

And then of course Michael Arndt was brought on to pretty much fill in the outline with his undoubtedly smart dialogue. If you’ve seen Little Miss Sunshine, you know what I’m talking about.

So in case you missed this little revelation, you’re welcome. It’s easy to miss since it wasn’t even in the main article.

Now let’s talk about Plutarch’s pajamas
Twiffidy

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16 comments

  1. I know VV is not meant to be a “news site”, but thanks for pointing out that tidbit about Beaufoy actually backing out completely and having NO role in the scripting; I did not realize that, I thought he had submitted a draft but not stuck around to complete it. I do recall reading somewhere about Suzanne Collins and Francis Lawrence having a 3 day conclave, though I assume there was no white smoke released at the end. But I think this is the first major fansite that has actually highlighted that fact.

    Of course, we know that despite SC’s involvement, Bonnie, Twill, and Darius were still cut. Did SC approve of these cuts when she helped work on the initial outline, or were these scenes included at first, and cut later? Also, considering that much of the THG script criticism was for leaving out memorable dialogue from the book, and SC was even more deeply involved with that; I wonder, maybe SC herself really doesn’t think that having exact quotes from the books show up in the movies is that important.

    After all, most of her work is in script-writing, which would give her an understanding that what works on a page could very well be cheesy in a movie, which unfortunately might include many of Peeta’s signature lines. Also, while I am certainly not on the “I am CERTAIN, based on ONE article, that Peeta is getting shafted again in CF” bandwagon…I also wonder, did SC even intend for Peeta to be as beloved as he is in this fandom?

    It reminds me of how JKR did not mean for Snape and Draco to have the fan-following they have, though to a lesser extent. I think JKR meant for Snape and Draco to be mostly bad, with just enough good that they’re not doomed to eternal hellfire. Whereas, I think SC meant for Peeta to be mostly good, but certainly not the saint that so many Peeta fans seem to perceive him to be.

    1. I distinctly recall Francis saying in some older interview that Suzanne was telling him things like “You can’t leave this out, the fans will kill you”, so I assume that every cut was Collins-approved.

      Regarding Peeta’s signature lines, I would hope that they tweak some of them since some of them would really sound like cheesy pick-up lines. For instance, find another way to say his line about nightmares that doesn’t say that *most* of his nightmares are about losing Katniss – that’s a little bit too much and I find it hard to believe. There are many great moments Peeta has in Catching Fire but not every line has to be kept 100% the same. In the book we’re supposed to imagine that they don’t sound so cheesy when Peeta says them, but I’m not sure that would work.

      But then I’m also one of the few people who find a lot that Peeta says in the cave in the first book unbearably cheesy. People were complaining that he came off as a stalker in the movie when he said he watched her every day, but how much worse would it be if he also said he fell in love with her when he heard her sing when they were 5, after his father told him he used to be in love with her mother? And the line “Come to finish me, sweetheart” sounds just weird and too Haymitch-like.

      1. suzanne collins told beaufoy, not francis lawrence, not to leave certain things out of the script. that “the fans will kill you” phrase was directed towards beaufoy.

    2. Well, there you have it.

      In my opinion, Snape is the TRUE hero of the Harry Potter books. 🙂

      But I know what you mean about fandoms taking on a life of their own. My big concern when they did Haymitch casting was they not pick an actor who gave off too much of a sexual vibe with Jennifer because it might have started a Team Haymitch thing, which would have been sort of gross

      (Sorry, Woody, I DO think you’re cute.)

      1. Debbie: Not wanting to debate with you about Snape, just saying that I don’t think JKR herself meant for him to be a hero, based on everything she’s said about him. I do feel the character wound up transcending what she meant him to be. Your comment that Snape is the true hero of the books, reminds me of Peeta fans saying similar things about him. That he’s the true hero, the “heart and soul” of the story, that he elevates the franchise from a mere adventure story into something that pricks at our consciences, etc. If we want to make HP comparisons, it really seems some see Peeta as having a Lilyesque role, filling the archetype of the “pure, saintly woman who redeems the bad boy anti-hero through her unconditional love”. (Not that Lily totally fits this trope, but it does seem both James and Snape saw her this way.)

        As for Team Haymitch; I actually have come across Team Haymitch in my Net travels. I suppose there is some basis for pairing them, I recall one such shipper who married a much older man herself, and doesn’t see the age difference as “gross” at all. She did make some valid points that Katniss and Haymitch understand each other in a way that doesn’t exist with Peeta (or Gale for that matter). I don’t know if Gary Ross (who seems to have gotten Woody on board single-handedly, hence the rumors that Woody considered leaving along with Gary) was thinking about that when he casted Woody, though,

        1. Considering Gary’s high level of awareness that this movie was primarily for teenagers, i’d say he did NOT intend for there to be a Team Haymitch aspect vying for Katniss’ attentions. His character feels like that awkward crazy drunk uncle eho acts like a bear but has a marshmallow center. According to book at least.

          However, I totally agree that book Haymitch understands Katniss in ways that Peeta and Gale don’t. I think that is part of what makes his character so compelling. I really hope this part of his character comes to life over next 3 movies because

      2. Darn phone app… Because this is key to when Haymitch votes with Katniss for next Hunger Games. He needs to get her decision “for Prim”.

  2. I was actually really interested to read this as well, because I didn’t even really believe those rewrite rumours since they were never confirmed. We always kept hearing “the script is a problem” “they have no script” etc etc which made me nervous at the time, but it makes sense now. Also the thought of Beaufoy’s script “needing rewrites” concerned me a lot, so to hear that Suzanne actually contributed to the script and Ardnt just fleshed it out gives me much more confidence. With this movie in particular, I think that the script was always the biggest problem, and so hopefully that’s good and now everything else will just fall into place :3

  3. Big, big, big news. Thanks for talking about it because I had NOT heard a drop about Suzanne Collins being involved. That brings some relief to my mind, character-wise. I don’t know much about Beaufoy, so I didn’t know if that was bad or good that he dropped out. But it was a bit shocking to read that no script existed before Arndt, but Lawrence said that his first draft made CF’s zigzagging beginning make sense. May the idds be in our favor that the script is top notch.

  4. Ten points for discussing this more than the quick mention in the article! I was pretty shocked that Beaufoy wasn’t willing to create material with a different director. Also, it will be interesting to see how Suzanne’s influence differs, given that she was only involved in the outline instead of full-on script writing this time around (which I actually think is better!)

  5. I remember reading somewhere that Simon Beaufoy himself said that he had turned in the first draft of the script before the hunger games premiered. he said it was in suzanne collins´ hands. i also recall reading somewhere that suzanne collins told beaufoy, not francis lawrence, not to leave certain things out of the script. that “the fans will kill you” phrase was directed towards beaufoy. i also heard suzanne collins wasn´t happy with beaufoy´s script because he left the victory tour out. although it is true sometimes writers agree to work on a project under certain conditions, i.e. he came on to write when gary ross was still involved, so ross´exit might have been the reason behind his, it might as well be that he simply didn´t deliver what the producers wanted, and he didn´t want to change anything, so he left.

  6. I was one of the few people on earth who was not a fan of Slumdog Millionaire, so I’m not at all bummed that Beaufoy had no hand in the filmed CF script. Arndt, OTOH, is one of my screenwriting heroes–the beautiful job he did on Toy Story 3 shows he can come into an existing franchise and do a fantastic job. Really happy to hear Collins had some say in the finished product.

    It’s not that odd for other attached talent, actors as well as screenwriters, to leave a project if a director leaves. (I believe there’s a rumor floating about that Woody almost left when Gary left.) Some screenwriters prefer to work with certain directors.

    1. Count me in as one of those few people then. 😉 I thought I would like it well enough until the last 10-15 minutes, but in the end I really disliked it. I did like The Full Monty though.

      I haven’t seen Toy Story 3, but I loved Little Miss Sunshine.

    2. That rumor is true. In the Entertainment Weekly article, under the same headline as the Beaufoy news, it mentioned that Woody was having a difficult time with the news of Gary leaving. Gary had to beg Woody to join the first movie, so it’s no surprise that Woody would want to leave. Fortunately, Francis hung out with Woody and they just chatted and worked it out. I’m really glad that they did, for the sake of continuity and for the sake of not losing Woody!

  7. HGBC: Just to clarify my comments about Team Haymitch, I didn’t mean to say that Gary Ross was trying to imply there could be something romantic between Haymitch and Katniss. I meant that I don’t know if he really thought “Oh, I have to make SURE no one gets that impression”, or “I have to make sure Haymitch comes across as a father figure”! I actually didn’t get that much of a sense of the special Katniss-Haymitch bond from the movie, unfortunately.

    Along the same lines, while there isn’t as much of a following for Team Cinna, I guess because so many fans assume he is gay; I also recall some Cinna fans complaining about how Movie!Cinna is played by a man literally old enough to be Jen’s father, because Book!Cinna is described as a young man, and they thought the movie version of their relationship suffered as a result. The story that she was friends with his daughter and grew up calling him “Mr. Kravitz” probably didn’t help.

    IMHO, while the Team Peeta contigent seems to have been the most vocal that the movie didn’t develop their relationship enough, I think we can say this is true for most relationships, other than perhaps the Katniss-Prim one (and that, I think, is because SC herself didn’t develop this relationship that much, we are meant to take it as a given, much as it seems JKR expected readers to take as a given that Lily and James really did love each other).

  8. Satsuma, I didn’t think you were saying that Ross was making a Haymitch implication, just that you were stating that some fans interpreted it that way. But then again, some fans were begging for “more” of a Haymitch/Effie romance in the next film. So, whatever!

    I just found out that one of my friends is a Hunger Games fan… it was just a topic that had never come up in previous conversations. We were talking about the movie and the fact that though it follows the “action” of the book very well, it didn’t have the depth of the book, IMO because we never get to hear Katniss’ voice. Now, while I understand the argument for not having a voice-over, I really wish that more lines could have been given to Katniss for us to hear some of that internal dialog that helps us understand her as a character and also to push on some of those important over-arching themes of hunger, government, morality, etc.

    And while I feel that Movie Katniss did not have the book’s depth, I think the relationships overall suffered as well… that connection that begins between Haymitch and Katniss (although I don’t think it really deepens until Catching Fire anyway), but also Peeta. I know I’m Team Peeta, so I admit I’m biased, but since THAT’S THE GUY SHE ENDS UP WITH, I don’t think that any dialog or scenes between Katniss and Peeta could be extraneous. Every single one will help in establishing their connection, her ambivalence toward him, and making him a well rounded character that feels… worthy is not the right word… deserving is not quite the right word either… meaningful(?) as her friend and eventual lover.

    BTW, I do agree, though, that Collin’s didn’t develop Katniss-Prim relationship as much I would have thought she would for a story so dependent on Prim’s death for being a catalyst.

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