Lionsgate sets male leads for adaptation

Lionsgate has found its male leads for “The Hunger Games,” tapping Josh Hutcherson (“The Kids Are All Right”) for the role of Peeta Mellark, with Liam Hemsworth (“The Last Song”) in the role of Gale Hawthorne.

The studio announced the castings Monday, three weeks after Variety.com first reported that it was signing Jennifer Lawrence for the lead female role as Katniss Everdeen.

“Hunger Games” will be directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force with producer Jon Kilik. Project is based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, set in a dystopian future where a young woman joins a survival contest — the Hunger Games — to save her community.

Lionsgate plans to release the pic on March 23, 2012.

Script was penned by Billy Ray and Collins. First book in the trilogy was “Hunger Games,” followed by “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay.”

Key developments in the story include Katniss’ little sister being chosen in the lottery to participate and Katniss volunteering to take her place. At the outset of the Games, Peeta publicly confesses his longtime feelings for Katniss, his supposed arena rival.

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