By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—The highly anticipated “The Hunger Games” doesn’t arrive in theaters until March 23 but Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (“Slumdog Millionaire”) already is hard at work adapting Suzanne Collins’ “Catching Fire,” the second book in her fantasy adventure trilogy, into a screenplay.
“I delivered the first draft last week,” he said Monday. “It’s very very different from the way I normally adapt (a book), which is to read the book twice and put it aside. You can’t do this (with ‘Catching Fire’) because you’d be firebombed by the fan base.”
Beaufoy, who has adapted other books into screenplays including “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” and the upcoming “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” said he had some initial concerns about adapting Collins’ book because it is so highly regarded by its legion of young fans.
“My usual approach is to be very free with the way it’s adapted,” he said. “What I hadn’t realized, and now I do, is that Suzanne used to be a TV and film writer so she’s sort of adapted it already. The novels are very filmic, structurally, so luckily I haven’t had that battle going on in my head where I have to discard everything.”
Beaufoy is one of the lucky few, who already has seen “Hunger Games” and he reports, “It’s terrific, really bold.”
“It’s not ‘Harry Potter,’ nobody waves a magic wand and you’re all right again,” he added. “Once you’ve been shot with an arrow through the heart, you’re dead.”
“Catching Fire” picks up the story of Katniss Everdeen (to be played by Jennifer Lawrence, who originates that role in “The Hunger Games”) and the fictional, futuristic nation of Panem. A rebellion against the oppressive Capitol is in full swing, and Katniss and fellow tribute Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are forced to return to the arena in a special Hunger Games match. Gary Ross, who directed “The Hunger Games,” is set to return to the helm for the sequel.
The filmed version of “Catching Fire” is due out November 2013.