Lionsgate’s Michael Burns: ‘Catching Fire’ Director Francis Lawrence ‘Hit It Out of the Park’

On Nov. 18, the Nokia in downtown Los Angeles hosted the sixth premiere in eight days for Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” After all that travel director Francis Lawrence allowed that he was a bit jet lagged — and energized at the same time.

“The fans are amazing everywhere we’ve gone,” Lawrence mused, adding that the youthful cast has taken the tour in stride — particularly leading lady Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) as the reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen.

“She’s a total goofball, but she’s also an amazing actress,” Lawrence said of Lawrence.

The “Catching Fire” tour has hit London, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Madrid and will conclude Wednesday in New York. Lawrence began shooting the back-to-back “Mockingjay” movies on Sept. 30 in Atlanta before breaking for the tour.

“We start shooting again in Atlanta right after Thanksgiving until December 20th, then we break for Christmas and then we shoot for three more months in Atlanta and two months in Europe,” Lawrence noted. “We’re mostly shooting in sequence except for a scene here and there.”

As for the fans, Lawrence gave a shout-out to author Suzanne Collins: “They’re really responding to our great source material.”

Newcomer to the franchise Jeffrey Wright, who plays Beetee, said he’s pleased that the fans have set the bar high: “I like that I might be able to exceed the expectations of a hyperjudgmental fan base.”

“I love the fans; They’re a little crazy but I love them,” said Willow Shields, who plays Prim.

Amanda Plummer, who portrays Wiress, signed autographs for a full 20 minutes on the red carpet. “I love that ‘The Hunger Games’ has such a following. It’s kind of a little rebellious,” she noted.

Plummer allowed that she knows something about longlasting fan affection: “I never get tired of talking about ‘Pulp Fiction.’ I’m the first thing in it. I love it.”

Alan Ritchson, who portrays the villanous Gloss, said he could not stop smiling. “I’m pretty unvillainy in real life; I come from a town called Niceville in Florida,” he added.

At the afterparty, guests proceeded through a line of timpani drummers and into a tent populated by wildly dressed denizens of Panem’s capital. Dramatic spotlights illuminated the room festooned with white roses and decadent desserts. Rob Friedman, co-chair of Lionsgate’s motion picture group, admitted to being a hardcore romantic.

“My favorite moment by far was the first kiss and the fans’ reaction to it,” he said. “That’s as good as it gets.”

Lionsgate vice chair Michael Burns was all smiles, too. “I think Francis Lawrence hit it out of the park.”

PHOTOS: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” LA Premiere 

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