Exclusive: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Victory Tour poster immortalizes Peeta and Katniss

If you’re a fan of the Hunger Games each year, then you’re probably still just as stunned as I was by the way the 74th annual games wrapped up.  I’ll admit, at first I was upset by the idea that they had thrown out the rules and changed things just to give Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Meelark a happy ending, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think they deserved to win.

After all, the Games are about out-thinking your opponents just as much as it’s a physical challenge, and it was just plain strategically brilliant for Katniss to make the move she did.  It was the only way either of them was really going to “win,” and it forced the Capitol to really decide what they want.  Is the point of the Games to crush every player, no matter what, or is it to give us a new hero every year, someone to remind us of the best of what we can be and do?  If that’s the goal, then this year is the bonus plan, because I think both of these players are worth our admiration.

We here at HitFix are pleased that the Capitol reached out to us to help premiere this Victory Tour poster, and I don’t know about you, but when Katniss and Peeta make their stop in my district, I’ll definitely turn out to see them live and in person.  It’s strange… I know they’re still part of the system, and nothing has really changed, but there’s something about the way they pulled off their win that has given me something akin to real hope for the first time in a long time.

I wonder if that makes President Snow nervous at all.  Because it should.

Of course, I’m playing along here with the narrative of the larger world of “The Hunger Games,” but I am pleased that we’re premiering this poster today, which marks the official shift for Lionsgate from the first film to “Catching Fire.”  This is the first official piece of artwork for the new movie, and it’s a striking teaser image, classy and austere.  If you aren’t familiar with the books, let’s just say that Katniss and Peeta may have won the 74th Annual Games in the eyes of the public, but they are in just as tense a situation as they are forced to play a very high-profile game for their lives, putting a smiling face on the system that they’ve come to hate through their time in the Games.

Here’s the full premiere:

I like that Lionsgate is treating the entire ad campaign as part of their narrative, and for fans, it’s great that they get a chance to live in the world of Panem for a few years as the films unfold.  If you head over to the official Facebook page this morning, they’re playing it all as real.  They’re getting ready to start the marketing, and I’m sure we’ll see more traditional teaser posters and trailers soon enough.  What I’m really curious about is how different things are this time for Jennifer Lawrence, who has blown up even more as a movie star since the release of the first movie.  She is one of the most engaging people in pop culture right now, unimpressed by celebrity, and she seems happy poking holes in hype, just as she seems to genuinely enjoy embodying the iconic hero of the Suzanne Collins series.  Lionsgate has no better asset as they sell their film than their Katniss, and I’m sure she’ll be front and center for all of it.

For now, though, this online exclusive artwork is a cool way to mark the shift from Gary Ross’s film to whatever it is that Francis Lawrence is preparing right now.

“The Hunger Games: Catching FIre” arrives in theaters November 22, 2013.