28 Differences Between The Hunger Games Catching Fire Movie and Book. The 28 differences between Francis Lawrence‘s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) and Suzanne Collins‘ second book in her trilogy are numerous. Some of the changes are minor while others are large.
The 12 differences between The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie and the book (spoilers):
1. Katniss Has a PTSD Flashback While Shooting a Turkey
In the Book: Suzanne Collins communicates Katniss’ struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder by having her talk about her nightmares, and her gut reaction to anything that reminds her of the Games.
In the Movie: Director Francis Lawrence smartly adds more depth to Katniss’ struggles with PTSD. In an early scene, she freaks out when she fires an arrow at a wild turkey while out hunting only to see it stick into the chest of a tribute. Gale is with her and calms her down (also a small tweak from the book) by showing her it’s just a turkey. The addition helps underline the psychological damage Katniss sustained in the arena.
2. Bonnie and Twill Are Missing, So There’s No District 13 Foreshadowing
In the Book: Katniss’ eventual relocation to the rebellion’s headquarters in District 13 is foreshadowed by her introduction to Bonnie and Twill, two District 8 refugees hiding in the woods near District 12 while on the run from the Capitol.
In the Movie: Bonnie and Twill didn’t make the cut, so the only reference we ever see to District 13 is in one of the Capitol’s propaganda videos. Producer Nina Jacobson revealed the change months ahead of the movie’s release, explaining, “I want every single thing in there. But you know what? If you have to give up something in order to give more time to Katniss and Gale or to Effie as she starts to feel a conscience, you make the sacrifices in order to serve the characters and themes that are more essential.”
3. Katniss and Gale Kiss a Third Time
In the Book: Katniss and Gale kiss twice. The first time he kisses her while they’re out checking their snares for game in the woods near District 12. The second time, Katniss kisses Gale while he’s recovering from his flogging at the hands of Commander Romulus Thread.
In the Movie: That first kiss happens in town instead of in the woods. The second kiss happens just like in the book. Then there’s a third kiss when Katniss takes the lead and kisses Gale in the woods, leaving him just as surprised as the Gale fans in the audience.
4. President Snow Has a Video of Them Kissing
In the Book: President Snow tells Katniss he knows about her kiss with Gale. This is a problem, of course, because Snow has made it clear that her family’s safety depends on her ability to convince all of Panem she’s madly in love with Peeta.
In the Movie: He shows her the video proof.
5. Katniss Doesn’t Have Anything Prepared for District 11
In the Book: District 11 is the first stop on the Victory Tour, and it’s a particularly difficult one for Katniss because the district’s male tribute, Thresh, saved her life in the Games, and the female tribute, Rue, was her ally. Peeta and Katniss both prepare remarks for their visit to District 11 at the beginning of the Victory Tour. When it’s her turn, Katniss numbly recites the words that have been drilled into her through practice, but ends up going back to the microphone to say something more true to her heart.
In the Movie: Katniss never prepares anything for District 11, but the scene still stays faithful to the book with Katniss’ impromptu (and touching) remembrances of Thresh and Rue.
6. Haymitch Hugs Katniss After the District 11 Execution
In the Book: After Katniss and Peeta’s District 11 remarks, the people watching offer them the same three-finger salute Katniss received in District 12 after volunteering for the Games in her sister’s place. An old man also whistles the four-note birdsong Rue taught Katniss in the Games, and for this infraction he’s dragged in front of the audience and executed. Katniss and Peeta witness this, and a fast-thinking Haymitch spirits them away to the dome of the District 11 Justice Building, where he explains to them how badly they’ve messed up by more or less inciting a riot. He chastises them, but Peeta shames them both for keeping secrets from him.
In the Movie: It all happens pretty much the same way except at the end of it all, Haymitch does something seemingly very un-Haymitch-like when he comforts Katniss by putting his arms around her. Of course, it’s also pretty un-Katniss-like that she would accept such comfort, but it helps reinforce the idea that these three are looking out for each other.
7. Plutarch Doesn’t Show Katniss His Watch
In the Book: At the end of the Victory Tour, Katniss and Peeta attend a party in their honor at the President’s house in the Capitol. This is where Katniss first meets Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Head Gamemaker. The two exchange awkward pleasantries before Plutarch remarks on the time, saying he has to be at a Gamemaker meeting at midnight, and flashing his pocketwatch to Katniss. When rubbed, the watch reveals a Mockingjay design, and Plutarch makes a point of saying his meeting “starts at midnight.” Katniss thinks he’s just showing off, but the mockingjay watch hints at Plutarch’s true loyalties, and the arena’s structure.
In the Movie: Plutarch and Katniss meet at the party, but he never shows her his watch. He does, however, explain exactly how Seneca Crane died. He also hints at his true loyalties by remarking that the party surrounding them can be fun “if you abandon your moral judgment.”
8. President Snow Is Spitting Blood
In the Book: Katniss remarks during her first one-on-one meeting with President Snow back in District 12 that he smells like blood and roses. His breath, in particular, smells like blood. [MOCKINGJAY SPOILERS] In Mockingjay, it’s revealed that his breath smells like blood because his mouth is constantly bleeding. At some point he poisoned himself in order to allay suspicions that he was responsible for the murders of his rivals by the same poison. (Think Gus Fring poisoning Don Eladio if you’re a Breaking Bad fan.) He took the poison’s antidote, but never fully recovered, and was left with bleeding sores in his mouth.
In the Movie: We can’t smell what Katniss can smell, so we need some visual cue to tell us what’s going on in Snow’s mouth. In Catching Fire, we see him spit blood into his champagne glass at the Victory Party in the Capitol. It was never in the book, but it still gives us that same gross-out feel.
9. Plutarch’s Master Plan Is Revealed
In the Book: Plutarch disappears from the Victory Party in the Capitol and doesn’t reappear until the final pages. Based on what those final pages reveal, and what we learn in Mockingjay, we know he was busy in the interim, but we never see his behind-the-scenes machinations.
In the Movie: Director Francis Lawrence doesn’t limit his movie to Katniss’ perspective the way the book does, so he gives Philip Seymour Hoffman more screentime, which gives the audience new insight into Plutarch’s plans. We see him urge President Snow to crack down on the districts, and broadcast all of it to Panem. He tells Snow to broadcast beatings, whippings, executions, all interspersed with the latest news about Katniss and Peeta’s upcoming wedding. This way people will come to associate Katniss, their Mockingjay, their symbolic leader of the revolution, with the enemy. This will both break their spirit, and turn all of Panem against her. Savvy book readers will see Plutarch’s real strategy here. As an agent of rebellion against the Capitol, he’s likely urging Snow to crack down because he knows the brutality will only accelerate the revolution.
10. Plutarch Changes the Rules of the Quarter Quell
In the Book: Every 25 years, the rules of the Hunger Games are changed as part of a “Quarter Quell.” Each of the Quarter Quell’s rule changes were supposedly laid out 75 years ago by the creators of the Games, who hid each Quell’s rule changes in sealed envelopes. For the third Quarter Quell, it’s revealed each districts’ tributes are to be reaped from the existing pool of victors. Many suspect President Snow of being behind the rule change, but it’s never really explained. In the final pages of the book, Plutarch tells Katniss he “never dreamed [she’d] be a tribute again.”
In the Movie: Plutarch is behind the rules change. He explains to Snow that killing Katniss in the areana, as opposed to executing her, will prevent her becoming a martyr to the rebels’ cause. Instead, people will see her getting her hands dirty in the Games, and no longer look up to her. Again, readers will notice Plutarch’s involvement here is nicely in step with the books. The rules change can be seen as part of Plutarch’s ultimate plan to spirit Katniss away to District 13 while also making the people of the Districts, and even the Capitol (where they LOVE the victors), angry at Snow. He’s playing a dangerous double game, tricking Snow into thinking this is all to his advantage while it’s actually fueling the revolution. [MOCKINGJAY SPOILERS] Of course, this plan requires sacrifice, and Mockingjay readers will know District 13 leader President Coin will make any sacrifice necessary to bring down the Capitol.
11. We Never Get to See Katniss Drunk
In the Book: When the Quarter Quell rule change is announced and Katniss realizes she’ll have to return to the arena, she heads over to Haymitch’s house and gets smashed. She deals with a wicked hangover the next morning.
In the Movie: Katniss goes to Haymitch’s house to make him promise to help her save Peeta, and she ends up asking him for a drink, but we don’t see her get drunk, and we don’t see her with a hangover either.
12. We Learn What Happens to Head Peacekeeper Cray
In the Book: Gale gets into big trouble when he shows up at District 12 Head Peacekeeper Cray’s house to sell him a wild turkey he caught and Cray isn’t there. Instead, the new Head Peacekeeper, Commander Romulus Thread, opens the door. He immediately arrests Gale for poaching, and hauls him to the town square to be whipped. We never find out what happened to Cray.In the Movie: New peacekeepers arrive in District 12, and upon greeting them, Cray is dragged away with a black bag over his head.
13. This Means Gale’s Whipping Happens Differently
In the Book: Gale is whipped for showing up to the Head Peacekeeper’s house with a poached turkey.
In the Movie: When Commander Thread arrives in District 12, he sets his sights on the Hob, the market where much of District 12’s contraband is sold. This happens in the book, too, but this time Gale and Katniss are there to witness it. When Thread pulls out his baton to deliver a beating, Gale tackles him. This is why Thread has him hauled to the square to be publicly whipped. It also means Katniss is at the whipping almost from the beginning whereas in the book she shows up well into the punishment.
14. Peacekeeper Darius Is Gone
In the Book: A young peacekeeper named Darius tries to stop Gale from being whipped by Thread, and for his troubles he’s knocked unconscious. He later surfaces in the Capitol, after apparently having his tongue cut out, as an avox.
In the Movie: He’s not in the movie.
15. The District 12 Fence Never Gets Electrified
In the Book: After Commander Thread takes over District 12 he makes sure the electric fence surrounding the area is operational. This takes Katniss by surprise, and she ends up hurting her foot when she’s forced to climb up a tall tree to get over the fence and drop over the other side.
In the Movie: None of that happens.
16. We Never See Haymitch’s Games
In the Book: While researching previous years’ Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta see how Haymitch won 25 years ago, during the second Quarter Quell, in which twice as many tributes (48) competed. Haymitch allied with a fellow District 12 tribute, Maysilee Donner, who (in the books) originally owned the mockingjay pin Katniss got from Madge Undersee (Maysilee’s niece). He won his games by mostly out-surviving the other tributes, and in the process he learns of the arena’s force field, which will propel objects back from where they came. When the Games come down to him and an unnamed female tribute from District 1, she throws an axe at him. Haymitch ducks the axe, it hits the force field, and it comes back to kill her. And that’s how Haymitch became a victor.
In the Movie: Katniss and Peeta watch some old tapes, but we never see any footage of Haymitch in the arena.
17. Beetee Has a Last Name
In the Book: Like many of the characters in the books, we never learn District 3 tribute Beetee’s last name.
In the Movie: It’s easy to miss, but at one point Caesar Flickerman calls him “Beetee Letea” (like Luh-Tay-uh). It could be spelled differently though.
18. Mags Can’t Speak At All
In the Book: Katniss immediately likes Mags, an old woman from District 4 who volunteered in the place of a young female who seems to have lost her mind. Mags doesn’t speak much, and when she does Katniss can’t understand her, but she can still talk.
In the Movie: Mags doesn’t speak at all. Also, Haymitch makes an offhand comment about how great she is. It helps drive home the point that many of these former victors are his friends.
19. Katniss Can Make a Fire with a Stick
In the Book: Katniss works on her fire-building skills at the training center by learning to use flint and steel to make a fire. After she’s figured it out she notices she’s been joined by District 3 tributes Wiress and Beetee, who are struggling to make a fire with matches.
In the Movie: Katniss spots Wiress and Beetee trying to make a fire by twisting a stick back-and-forth on a log. She shows them how to move their hands down the stick to get a coal started.
20. Katniss Sees Peeta’s Painting of Rue
In the Book: When Katniss arrives to show off her skills for the Gamemakers, she smells cleaning products and sees a large mat pulled over a messy spot on the floor. She knows Peeta was in there just before her, and it seems he must have done something to annoy the Gamemakers. She then makes things worse (depending on how you see it) when she takes a target dummy, ties a noose around its neck, hangs it, and paints the name, “Seneca Crane” across its chest. She finds out later from Peeta that the mat was covering a painting of Rue, lying dead in the arena and covered in flowers.
In the Movie: When Katniss arrives to show off her skills, Peeta is just walking out, and his painting of Rue is right there on the floor for her to see, and it breaks her heart all over again. If anything the scene works better than the version in the book, with Katniss’ stunt becoming part of her reaction to the painting of Rue.
21. Johanna Mason Lashes Out at the Capitol
In the Book: During their pre-Games interviews with Caesar Flickerman, many of the tributes express their anger at the Quarter Quell rules change. For her part, Johanna Mason asks “if something can’t be done about the situation. Surely the creators of the Quarter Quell never anticipated such love forming between the victors and the Capitol.”
In the Movie: The movie version of Johanna Mason is much more confrontational than the book version. This time during her interview with Caesar, Johanna rolls her eyes at the blue-haired host, admits she’s pissed off, and drops a huge bleeped-out F-bomb while screaming at the Capitol. It’s a rage-against-the-machine moment that will have audiences applauding in the theater.
22. Katniss’ Prep Team Never Says Goodbye
In the Book: Venia, Flavius, and Octavia have all become rather attached to Katniss. By way of goodbye, Venia eventually tells her, “We would all like you to know what a … privilege it has been to make you look your best.”
In the Movie: The prep team’s screen time has been slashed, and a few of their moments given to Effie, so this scene is one of the casualties.
23. The Tribute Suits Are a Little Different
In the book: The tribute outfits are described as being sheer blue with a shiny purple belt that turns out to be a floatation device.
In the movie: The outfits are more obviously wet suits with textured gray and black sections and no floatation belts.
24. Peeta Can Swim, and He Kills a Dude While Swimming
In the Book: When they arrive in the arena, the tributes are surrounded by water. Peeta ends up just standing on his pedestal like a sitting duck until Finnick basically rescues him.
In the Movie: Peeta swims his way up to the cornucopia during the opening bloodbath, showing no fear of the water. What’s more, he finds himself locked in battle with the District 5 male tribute while in the water. The two wrestle for a while before both going underwater, and the fight ends when the District 5 male’s body floats to the surface.
25. Katniss Knows How to Use the Spile Right Away
In the Book: Katniss and her allies are suffering from dehydration when a parachute brings them a strange object that’s “tapered slightly at one end.” None of them know what to do with it until Katniss finally remembers the object’s name. “A spile!”
In the Movie: She knows it’s a spile right away and proceeds hammering it into a tree with a rock. Fresh water begins pouring out and Team Katniss is no longer worried about dying of dehydration.
26. Chaff Dies on the Second Day
In the Book: District 11 tribute Chaff survives to the third day of the games. [MOCKINGJAY SPOILERS] It’s revealed in Mockingjay that Chaff was killed by Brutus just before Katniss shot her electrified arrow into the arena’s force field. Peeta says in Mockingjay that he witnessed this and immediately killed Brutus in revenge.
In the Movie: Chaff dies offscreen and is seen in the sky at the end of the second day.
27. Only One Parachute Falls, and There’s No Secret Bread Code
In the Book: Katniss, Peeta, and their allies receive a total of six parachutes. The first is a spile, which gives them access to fresh water out of the trees. The second is ointment for the burns they receive from the killer fog. The next four are all food. The fourth, fifth, and sixth parachutes all come from District 3, and all contain 24 rolls. Katniss later learns this is a code from the rebels. The rescue would arrive on the 24th hour of the third day.
In the Movie: Only one parachute falls: the one with the spile. So there’s no telling if Plutarch and the rest of the rebels were able to send any code to the tributes.
28. Plutarch Ditches President Snow
In the Book: We learn Plutarch is working with the rebels when Katniss discovers him talking to Haymitch and Finnick on the hovercraft at the end of the book. We don’t know how exactly Plutarch made his exit while running the games. That’s just left to our imaginations.
In the Movie: We get to see Plutarch running the Games, and as the climactic moment of rescue nears, he’s joined by President Snow while watching the Games. He soon ducks out, proposing to Snow that they’ll have a toast when Katniss Everdeen dies in the Games. When she shoots her electrified arrow into the force field, and knocks out the broadcast of the Games, Snow searches frantically for Plutarch, but he’s nowhere to be found. He’s already fled the Capitol to rescue Katniss, Beetee and Finnick from the arena.
We previously published these The Hunger Games: Catching Fire articles:
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘s plot synopsis: based on the Suzanne Collins‘ novel, “THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.”
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire stars Jennifer Lawrence, Willow Shields, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lynn Cohen, Jeffrey Wright, Maria Howell, Jena Malone, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tony Shalhoub, Amanda Plummer, Stanley Tucci, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, James Logan, Ivette Li-Sanchez, Justin Hix, Megan Hayes, Bobby Jordan, John Casino, Elena Sanchez, Daniel Bernhardt, Marian Greene, Jackson Spidel, Tiffany Waxler, and Lenny Kravitz.
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