Hunger Games producer Nina Jacobson on differences between the book and the movie

by Jennifer


I warned you that this was NOT going to be a “Hunger Games” free zone. We are hungry for this movie here at 5 Minutes for Books (pun unabashedly intended!). When I was given the opportunity to interview the producer Nina Jacobson, who worked with author Suzanne Collins to bring the movie to the screen, I jumped at the chance!

Over at 5 Minutes for Mom, I shared a lot more of my discussion with a look behind the scenes of the Hunger Games movie, so please check it out as well.

How is the movie different from the book?

In my re-read of the Hunger Games book, it was obvious how completely internal the novel was. It’s all Katniss. We know her motivation, we know her perception of what is happening and her interpretation of why, but according to producer Nina Jacobson, in the movie we are able to see more of why the Game Makers do what they do, how the people are responding to it (which will help the overall theme of the trilogy make more sense, I think), and also Haymitch’s role is expanded (shown below, center).

Also, one notable difference that pained booklover Nina Jacobson was the inability to feature all of the stylists. The relationship with Cinna (seen above, left) is critical, and they had to devote the time and attention to that. Jacobson is hoping to be able to include the other stylists on future projects.

“I couldn’t imagine NOT making it as a movie,” Nina Jacobson, on the Hunger Games

It was apparent that Jacobson loved this story and she told us that she felt protective of it. She knew that it could be made into a great movie, and it could also go wrong in many ways. She and Suzanne Collins met personally with many studios and decided that Lionsgate had the same commitment to making a great movie that they both did.

One of the major plot differences that a booklover will notice is that it is Prim who gives Katniss the Mockingjay pin, not her friend Madge. You can tell that Jacobson understood the importance of staying true to the book, because she said that they featured this in the earliest TV spots. I didn’t even notice it, but I love that it was so important to sort of “warn” the purists about this.

There are only so many relationships that a movie can show, and like with the stylists, it was the closeness between sisters that had to be established in that short time before Katniss left for the games, and this was one way they could keep that relationship in the forefront.

“Suzanne was very open to the changes,” Jacobson told us. Collins actually has a background in television writing, so she probably understands well the difference between telling a story visually and within a book.

Is the movie going to be better than the book?

I actually think it might be. One of the interviewers on the call had seen the movie, and mentioned the incredible use of sound. You can’t get that a book.

Also, look at Effie (top), and even the costumes of Cinna, Haymitch, and Peeta. Yes, we can read about the costumes, but seeing the over-the-top opulence and decadence of those in the Capital and hearing their affected speech will be an entirely different experience. Aside: my daughter Amanda has already said that the dress Katniss wears for the interviews isn’t as fabulous as it’s supposed to be — and I think you can’t live up to the image that you might have in your mind of the “the girl who was on fire,” so I have to agree on that one.

I’m also glad that we are going to get to see what is going on behind the scenes while Katniss is at the Games.

What about the violence?. Check out my post at 5 Minutes for Mom for the producer’s thoughts on that.

I absolutely can’t wait.

Catching Fire?

And of course, the question that everyone has, is what’s next? Well, they are already working on the script for Catching Fire, looking towards a Thanksgiving 2013 release.

Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer

Jennifer lives in Houston with her family. In addition to reading, she enjoys travel, Bible study, food, and fun. She blogs about some of these things -- when her nose isn't in a book -- at Snapshot.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dawn March 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Can’t wait! We are holding our breath !
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2 pammypam March 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm

amazing casting. not thrilled with the look of Peeta, but I’m loving those cast as Haymitch and Cinna just by the looks of the photo!
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3 Jennifer March 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I think that Woody Harrelson as Haymitch was excellent. I have no strong feelings about Gale or Peeta. Peeta is really not like I pictured him, but when I did my reread with that actor sort of in my head, that IS how he’s described.
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4 Dawn March 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm

A couple friends and I have been chatting about the pin and what appeared in the trailer. Hmmm… not sure I’m happy about that change. Isn’t it pretty significant that Madge gives this pin to Katniss? Literally “pinning their hopes” on her. This seems to only gain significance later on when we learn about the brewing rebellion… hmmmm…

(Okay, okay, I’ll stop with my purist ranting…) :)
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5 Jennifer March 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Yes, yes, YOU are the purist. I just thought it was awesome that they sort of gave the booklovers a heads up – on purpose showing that detail is changed. I do think that the connection between Madge the official’s daughter is somewhat significant, but we had to care about Prim some, and a lot of how we got to “know” her was later when Katniss was telling Peeta about her.
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6 Dawn March 20, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Yeah, yeah, I hear you, I hear you. :) I’ll try to let it go, and I do appreciate the heads up so I don’t have to be pissed in the theater. :)
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7 pammypam March 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I think I’m with Dawn on this one. The pin is such an obvious clue that I would’a been ticked off too if you hadn’t spoiled er i mean clued me in.

what’s next? Gale works in the mall instead of the mines?
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8 Joyness Sparkles March 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

Whoa…that is quite the hair in that picture. That woman looks a bit scary.
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9 Mormon Media Reviews April 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I saw the movie, then read the books, so my experience might be a little different. I loved both! I was amazed how close they were to each other. Yes there was the Mockingjay Pin switch, but overall I think it is the best translation to screen I have ever seen!
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10 Jennifer April 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm

The more I think about it, the more I really like it as well. Looking forward to the next one!
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