Over the weekend tragedy struck with the unexpected death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent drug overdose. He was one of the most celebrated and beloved actors in Hollywood, appearing in movies from world-class directors Paul Thomas Anderson, Bennett Miller, and Joel & Ethan Coen. At the end of his life, Mr. Hoffman appeared in a supporting, yet major, role in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. He played the new Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. At the time of his death, he was in the middle of shooting its sequel films Mockingjay – Part One & Part Two. Many have wondered how his death would affect the production, and now we know.
According to THR, Lionsgate executives held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the future of The Hunger Games film franchise without Hoffman. Director Francis Lawrence was shooting Mockingjay – Part One & Part Two at the same time, and it was reported that Hoffman finished shooting on the first of the two films, but still had seven more days left of shooting on the second. Apparently, one major scene in part two will have to be re-written before production can start up again in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the outlet, there are only five months left in production on Mockingjay – Part Two.
So it seems that a majority of Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee was already in the can before the untimely death of Mr. Hoffman, and it’s likely that the film’s writers will write around Philip Seymour Hoffman and Plutarch Heavensbee instead of re-casting the role. It’s also likely that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Two will be the last time we see Philip Seymour Hoffman on the big screen.
This isn’t the only recent time when the unexpected death of an actor affected a film’s production. Late last year, the untimely death of actor Paul Walker shook up the production of Fast & Furious 7. In that case, the producers are not re-casting Walker’s Brian O’Connor character, but rather are writing around the actor’s death and re-tooling the film to give the character and one of the franchise’s big stars a proper exit. As a result, Fast & Furious 7‘s release date was pushed from July 2014 to April 2015. It seems unlikely that Lionsgate will push back the release dates for either or both Mockingjay movies because of Hoffman’s tragic death.
After being disqualified from the 75th Hunger Games, or Third Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen agrees to be the face of the new revolution against the Capitol and President Snow. Gale Hawthorne rises to a leadership role, while Peeta Mellark continues to be a victim of President Snow’s brainwashing after being captured during the deadly competition. It’s unclear where in Mockingjay‘s story in the first movie will end and the second will begin, but a natural break in the story occurs just before the rebels invade the Capitol.
Mockingjay also features Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Stef Dawson, Natalie Dormer, Evan Ross, Meta Golding, Lily Rabe, Patina Miller, and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali. It’s likely that Mockingjay will be dedicated to the memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part One hits theaters everywhere on November 21, 2014, while Part Two will open on November 20, 2015.