The Hunger Games gets its lead—and it's an Oscar nominee

Fresh off playing the role of Mystique in the upcoming X-Men: First Class, Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence has landed the lead in another potentially huge sci-fi film.

According to The Wrap, Lawrence has officially signed to play Katniss Everdeen, the teenage heroine of the phenomenonally successful Hunger Games trilogy of novels. Lionsgate Films will release the first movie, The Hunger Games, on March 23, 2012, with Gary Ross (Pleasantville) on board as director.

The books by Suzanne Collins—The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay—take place in a totalitarian future version of what used to be the United States, where teenagers from each region of the country are chosen by lottery to compete to the death in gladitorial "games" and the winner's community gets the supplies it needs to survive.

The acclaimed books are aimed squarely at a teen and young adult audience, with the studio hoping that it can turn the trilogy into another box-office success on the scale of Twilight.

Lawrence, who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her gritty role in Winter's Bone, has been considered the front-runner for the role for weeks, although names like Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Abigail Breslin (Zombieland), Chloe Moretz (Let Me In), Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) and others were also in the mix.

The next big casting announcement will be that of the male lead, Peeta Mellark, with Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) and Josh Hutcherson (Journey to the Center of the Earth) on the radar for that. Interestingly, the producers and Ross seem to be making the characters a little older than they are in the books: Lawrence is 20, while Katniss stays in her teens throughout all three novels. Just a little speculation to keep Hunger Games fans up at night...

Have you read The Hunger Games? If so, do you think this is great casting, or are you concerned that Lawrence may not be right for the role?

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