The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: 10 big differences between the movie and book

Wondering what was lost (or added) to the latest Hunger Games movie on its way to the big screen? Read our comprehensive guide.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — the second film based on the Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, and one of the most anticipated movies of the year — is out today. Collins served as one of the screenwriters on the first film, but did not repeat that role in the sequel (which was adapted by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt). Though the film still follows Collins' original story, there are plenty of intriguing deviations that change key elements of the narrative.

What was lost or added to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on its way to the big screen? Here, a guide (spoilers for both the book and the movie to follow):

1. President Snow gets a granddaughter
Because the book is told from Katniss' perspective, we don't get to see how President Snow is experiencing the Games, or his subsequent interactions with his young granddaughter. The film gives us far more perspective on his day-to-day-life; we see Snow's granddaughter talking to him about how she looks up to Katniss, and how she wants to be in love the same way that Katniss and Peeta are.

Why it's important: These cinematic scenes present a more human, multidimensional side of Snow than Katniss ever sees, and furthers the idea that Katniss has become such a hero to some in the Capitol that even the president's own family supports her.

2. The Gamemaker never pulls out his watch
In the book, Katniss and Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee share a dance at the Capitol, where Plutarch shows her an elaborate watch that features a subtle image of a mockingjay — the symbol of the rebellion — on it. The movie features a similar dance scene, but Heavensbee doesn't reveal his watch.

Why it's important: The watch foreshadows Heavensbee's alliance with the rebellion (and his support of Katniss). It also foreshadows the Quarter Quell Games, which are held in an arena that is set up like a clock.

3. The absence of Twill and Bonnie
Early in the book, Katiniss meets Twill and Bonnie during a hunting trip to the woods. They have run away from their district, and are seeking refuge in District 13, which Katniss believes no longer exists. These characters have been eliminated from the film.

Why it's important: The possibility of the existence of District 13 is only revealed at the end of the film, but Twill and Bonnie's revelation in the book provides a little bit of hope for Katniss. She eventually realizes that the Capitol is using old footage from that district in their news reports — a foreshadowing of its existence.

4. The absence of Darius
In addition to Twill and Bonnie, one other important character is eliminated from the film: Darius, a kind-hearted peacekeeper who steps in when Gale is being beaten in the book. He is knocked down by the peacekeepers who are whipping Gale and is eventually turned into an Avox — a person punished for treason — in the Capitol.

Why it's important: In the book, it's clear that some of the peacekeepers are not as violent and evil as the others. Darius attempted to save Gale's life and was punished for it. The Capitol removes his tongue and makes him into a servant — one who Katniss encounters when she visits the Capitol later on.

5. The reason for Gale's whipping
In the book, Gale is reportedly taken into the town square and whipped for hunting, which is against the law. In the film, Gale is beaten when he tries to prevent the peacekeepers from beating up an innocent victim in District 12.

Why it's important: The film turns Gale into more of a hero for standing up for others, while the book features him simply getting caught due to the ever-present need for food.

6. Heavensbee's behind-the-scenes machinations
In the book, the audience doesn't see Heavensbee during the Quarter Quell; the focus is only on Katniss and her experiences. The film offers the other side of the story: We see him manipulating President Snow and convincing him to keep Katniss alive, despite the president wanting to see her killed early on.

Why it's important: In the book, we never realize how supportive Heavensbee is of the rebellion until its closing moments. The film implies that many of his decisions — from volunteering to be head gamekeeper to leaking Katniss information about the Games — were all part of his plan to support the rebellion and free Katniss.

7. District 12's Act of Defiance
In the film, widespread acts of rebellion are in vogue everywhere, which starts with the three-finger salute seen in District 11. That salute is replicated during the reaping in District 12, when Katniss and Haymitch are chosen to go into the Quarter Quell.

Why it's important: In the film, District 12— which hasn't had a rebellion like some of the other districts — is also showing major signs of rebellion. The Capitol's control over it is slowly coming to an end.

8. Haymitch's victory is never discussed
The last person who competed and won in the Quarter Quell was District 12's own Haymitch, who survived by using the arena's force field to his advantage. In the book, Peeta and Katniss watch several of the Hunger Games tapes and see Haymitch's victory unfold. In the movie, they don't watch the video, and the account of Haymitch's victory is absent.

Why it's important: The force field in Haymitch's video foreshadows the force field that will also appear in Katniss and Peeta's Quarter Quell. The characters learn how it can be used against their opponents in the book, but not in the film.

9. Rue's picture on the ground in the Training Room
In the book, Peeta is sent alone to have his talent judged by the gamekeepers. It's only after the judging has occurred, and Peeta and Katniss are having dinner, that Peeta reveals that he drew a picture of Rue on the floor. In the film, Katniss sees the picture on the ground when she walks into the training room.

Why it's important: The scene of Katniss arriving in the training room in the film has a greater emotional edge, as Katniss remembers Rue — and the fact that Rue, like so many innocent children before her, was sent to her death by the Capitol and President Snow.

10. The Games take up much more of the story
In the book, the actual Games take up less than a third of the story, as Collins explains and explores the world outside the main event. In the film, they come into play much earlier.

Why it's important: The change is natural for a film that's been sold on its action — but the book offers more of an emphasis on the build-up to the Games (and the talk of people rebelling) than the Games themselves.


Iconic horror franchises set to be revived
Horror movies

Iconic horror franchises set to be revived

The daily gossip: June 5, 2023
Taylor Swift
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: June 5, 2023

MoviePass stages a Hollywood comeback
MoviePass illustration

MoviePass stages a Hollywood comeback

Janika Oza recommends 6 books with global themes and conflicts
Janika Oza.

Janika Oza recommends 6 books with global themes and conflicts

Most Popular

Can Chris Christie make a comeback?
A black and white photo of Chris Christie waving

Can Chris Christie make a comeback?

Is Trump's wall working?
International Border Wall Between Tecate California and Tecate Mexico.

Is Trump's wall working?

Chuck Todd to be replaced by Kristen Welker on NBC's 'Meet the Press'
'Meet the Press' anchor Chuck Todd.
Out with the old, in with the new

Chuck Todd to be replaced by Kristen Welker on NBC's 'Meet the Press'