34 Differences Between the Hunger Games Book and Movie

By on March 27, 2012

::::Note: there may be spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched the film or read the novel::::

For those fans of the series who have already seen the film, you may have noticed more than a couple things that were changed when it was adapted for the big screen. Some of them made sense, and some of them didn’t. Some of the changes I realize were necessary when adapting the novel, but others seemed like they were changed out of laziness or disregard.

Either way, below are the 31 changes between the novel and movie. I also attempted to put them in order they would have appeared in the novel.

1: Gale and Katniss first thing

Book version: Katniss meets Gale early in the morning before The Reaping. He presents her with a loaf of bread with an arrow in it that makes her laugh.

Movie version: They meet and he shares a small loaf of bread with her. There isn’t anything there.

Significance lost: We don’t see how close the two are. We get they are friends but the arrow in the bread shows how much he knows her. That he would try to make her laugh on such an awful day in a way that is uniquely special to her is important in characterizing their friendship.

2: Haymitch at the Reaping

Book version: During the Reaping, Katniss sees Haymitch fall of the stage drunk.

Movie version: Non-existent. We do not get to see the level of drunkenness of Haymitch to the point it is in the novel.

Significance lost: Haymitch doesn’t get established as a drunk as early on. Katniss remarks that he is worst mentor because of how drunk he always is, but in the film we don’t meet him till later.

3: The Mockingjay Pin

Book version: Katniss receives the pin after The Reaping from a pseudo-friend Madge, who is the daughter of the governor of District 12. From here we learn the symbolism behind the pin and the bird it represents. As well as foreshadows the fact that Katniss and the mockingjay are viewed similarly by the Capitol, as in something that was a product of the Capitol but never meant to exist.

Movie version: Katniss buys/procures the pin on the day of the Reaping at the Hob and gives it to her sister, who later gives it back. There is little to no explanation behind the actual Mockingjay and its relationship with the Capitol.

 Significance lost: Very little. It is understandable when it comes to time management to write out a character who forwards the story only a little. The only thing lost is Katniss’ realization that she kind of, sort of had a friend in someone other than Gale.

4: Peeta’s father bringing cookies

Book version: While waiting in the room after The Reaping, Katniss is surprised to see Peeta’s father enter. He gives her a pack of cookies that he made, a luxury in the District, before saying goodbye.

Movie version: The only characters who get to visit Katniss before leaving is Prim, Gale, and her mother. Peeta’s father is never even mentioned.

Significance lost: It is one of the first times Katniss is realizes there is more to people than she thought. Also a hint that Peeta’s folks already felt like she would be the winner. Because he never gives her the cookies, we don’t get to see her throw them out when she realizes that she might have to kill Peeta and that bothers her.

5: Gale saying goodbye:

Book Version: Gale gives her a tearful goodbye, and before he can say much is pulled out of the room. It is strongly implied he was going to say he loved her or cared for her.

Movie Version: Gale never gets forced out of the room, and his goodbye is emotional but doesn’t have the underlying feeling that he wants to say he loves her.

Significance lost: It is the first set up for the back and forth that Katniss experiences regarding Gale and Peeta. She acknowledges that he would have probably said he loved her. Her feelings remain ambiguous towards both characters in the film, but in the novel we see more of her back and forth.

6: Haymitch’s words of advice

Book version: When Katniss and Peeta get to talk to their mentor, Haymitch, for the first time, they ask him for advice which he just laughs as says, “Here’s some advice, stay alive.”

Movie version: His piece of advice for the tributes is simply, “Embrace the prospect of your imminent death.”

Significance lost: We lose a bit of the comedic relief, however the line in the film is much more dramatic.

7: Haymitch and Food

Book version: When Haymitch is finally seen eating and not drinking, it is a sign to Katniss that he is starting to take training them seriously.

Movie version: We see Haymitch eat almost immediately after we first see him, although he is drunk at the time.

Significance lost: Katniss sees the change going through Haymitch when he agrees to finally stop drinking and become a real mentor. In the film we see none of the change.

8: Peeta and Katniss Holding Hands Through Ceremonies

Book version: Cinna suggests to Katniss that she and Peeta hold hands to look like a team.

Movie version: In the movie, Peeta suggests it while riding in to the ceremonies

Significance lost: Not much. Both show that Katniss is unsure about Peeta and the games.

9: Advice on Training Together

Book version: Haymitch advices Peeta and Katniss to stay close together and not to show off during the training sessions.

Movie version: It appears they are just thrown in to training where they are only occasionally together, although Peeta does mention that Haymitch told them not to show off.

Significance lost: Eh not a big deal. Film version is more condensed for time purposes.

10: Peeta Talks about his mother

Book version: Peeta’s mom tells him that District 12 might have its first winner, but then clarifies that she was referring to Katniss when she says, “She’s a survivor”.

Movie version: Peeta just says his mom was talking about her, not how he figures it out.

Significance lost: Not much except reaffirming that Katniss didn’t know everyone as much as she thought. Both make her feel uncomfortable as well as pity for Peeta so the change in minimal.

11: The scene between Seneca and Snow

Book version: Doesn’t exist.

Movie version: President Snow tells The Gamemaker not to give the people too much hope.

Significance lost: Takes away from the book sequels where the idea of giving people hope is explored. Good though for those who haven’t read the series.

12: Peeta’s interview with Caesar

Book version: After Peeta admits his love for her; she realizes that everyone is staring at her while he processes the admission. Caesar then says he wishes he could bring Katniss back up to respond to Peeta but that her time was up and it was too bad.

Movie version: Peeta admits his love and Caesar apologizes saying that it was a shame, but Katniss is actually back with her stylists and Effie and Haymitch where no one can see her reaction.

Significance lost: The scenes are pretty accurate, but in the novel, since everyone saw her reaction, s0 she looked even more vulnerable, which added to her rage towards Peeta.

13: Katniss attacks Peeta after his admission

Book version: Peeta admits his feelings for her in front of everyone in Panem. Katniss is furious as she thinks it was just a ploy and pushes him, which causes him to hit an urn that crashes and slices open his hand.

Movie version: Katniss pushes him, but he doesn’t get hurt or even cut himself.

Significance lost: The only thing lost is Katniss apologizing later to him. Not too much lost.

14:  Avoxes aren’t explained and no flashback for Katniss

Book version: Katniss recognizes a red-headed Avox who is serving her and has a memory of watching her and another young man try to escape the Capitol before being captured.

Movie version: Doesn’t exist.

Significance lost: This is a huge deal to most fans. Without Katniss recognizing the Avox, she doesn’t get a glimpse into how terrible things in the Capitol actually are. This is her first peak behind the curtain to something she hadn’t realized before.

15: Mockingjay pin taken inside the Arena

Book version: She is allowed to wear the Mockingjay pin after it “barely cleared the review board”. It also mentions each tribute can bring something from the District in with them, and another girl tried to wear a ring that had a hidden knife in it but it got rejected.

Movie version: Cinna hides the pin in her jacket that she is allowed to wear into the Arena.

Significance lost: The movie definitely makes this scene more dramatic. Letting her take it in made the Capitol look a little less strict, but in the film they seem more menacing by insinuating that she wouldn’t have been able to bring it in.

16: Katniss on the platform before the buzzer

Book version: Right before the games, the tributes are on platforms they can’t move off of till the buzzer. Immediately Katniss sees a bow and arrow in the Cornucopia. She wants it, but sees Peeta who shakes his head at her, possibly motioning for her to not to try to get it. She then gets disoriented by the sun and loses track of the bow and Peeta.

Movie version: Peeta clearly shakes his head, telling her not to get the bow. But she doesn’t get disoriented and doesn’t lose track and doesn’t blame Peeta for not getting to the bow.

Significance lost: This biggest thing lost is the perceived weakness and vulnerability of Katniss getting disoriented on the platform.

17: Katniss gets dehydrated 

Book version: Katniss struggles for a FULL day when she can’t find water nearby. She asks, out loud, for Haymitch to send her water via a sponsor. He doesn’t, which she realizes means she must be close to a stream and she continues on.

Movie version: She finds a pond almost immediately upon running away from the Cornucopia.

Significance lost: This really showed how smart and resourceful Katniss is in the novel. She is able to survive despite being severely dehydrated and lacking substance. The movie takes this scene away, and I feel like we lose a layer of Katniss’ personality.

18: Gamemaker scenes

Book version: Doesn’t exist, though Katniss is able to surmise what they are doing and thinking because of years of watching the games.

Movie version: We see several scenes of the gamemakers at work.

Significance: I think we actually gained something see this. While Katniss is able to describe these things to us, it was nice to actually have it presented visually.

19:  Notes with the parachutes from sponsors

Book version: Gifts from sponsors come without notes, and Katniss is left to interpret what each one means.

Movie version: A note comes with each gift (though there are less gifts shown), making it easier to keep Haymitch’s thoughts in the narrative.

Significance: I think this also takes away from Katniss’ resourcefulness. In the novel she is able to anticipate what Haymitch wants in order to get what she needs. Although since the film is told in a different narrative, the notes do convey what Katniss figures out herself in the novel.

20: Rue pointing out the tracker jacker nest

Book version: Katniss is hiding in the tree above the careers, when she is startled to see Rue in a tree next to her. Rue points out the Tracker Jackers, but it serves more as a warning to Katniss who is in the tree with them. Katniss then figures out to drop the nest on the careers and warns Rue to run.

Movie version: Rue gestures to Katniss to drop the nest on them.

Significance: Once again the resourcefulness of Katniss. But the film does use the change as a quicker way to develop Rue as a friend to Katniss.

21: Katniss tripping on the Tracker Jacker venom and Rue 

Book version: She gets stung several times before having a very hallucinogenic experience and passing out. She awakes to find Rue has put special leaves on her stings that is pulling the poison out and saved her life.

Movie version: She does get stung and she does trip out but it is much milder than the book described. She wakes up with the leaves on her but no explanation is given about what they do and she doesn’t keep any in case she needs them in the future.

Significance: Not much just not as elaborate as the book describes.

22: Rue’s death

Book version: Rue is speared by a boy from District 1 while still in the net before Katniss can cut her loose.

Movie version: Katniss frees Rue from the trap, but then is killed by the spear after a sense of false hope.

Significance: Makes her death all the more saddening. Much more dramatic and uses the opportunity to give Katniss a less-hard side to her personality.

23: District 11 and the Revolt

Book version: Doesn’t exist.

Movie version: After District 11 sees Rue die, they revolt against the peacekeepers.

Significance: We do see a revolt in that district during book 2. Adding it to book makes the scene much more dramatic and emotional, but takes away from the scene that is in the sequel, which is witnessed by Katniss and Peeta.

24: Katniss doesn’t receive any bread from Rue’s district

Book version: After Rue’s death, Katniss receives bread from Rue’s district, which she Katniss figures was a symbol of appreciate for her acts toward Rue. She also surmises it took all their money to pay a sponsor to send her the bread. An incredible act for the poorer districts.

Movie version: Doesn’t exist.

Significance: We really miss out on seeing the transition that Districts are starting to look toward and Katniss and root for her to win.

25: The Rule Change Announcement

Book version: Katniss still upset about Rue, but moving on hears the rule change and before she can help it, she yells out Peeta’s name and then immediately realized that was a mistake because it could giveaway her location so she clasps her hand over her mouth and then sets out to find him.

Movie version: She doesn’t yell his name out in excitement, but merely decides to go find him.

Significance: I loved this scene in the novel. It is one of the first times Katniss is not thinking of surviving. It is also the first time she shows she cares for Peeta albeit without realizing it.

26: Katniss Taking Care of Peeta

Book version: She finds him camouflaged and uncovers him enough to see his leg is severely injured. She is able to drag him to the water nearby and submerge his leg. Afterward, when she sees it is not getting any better, she uses the leaves that Rue gave her to pull some of the infection out which works a bit but he is still injured enough to need the medicine from the Capitol.

Movie version: She does find him camouflaged but she helps him limp to the water. There she cleans the wound and then takes him to the cave where he remains ill till she goes to the Feast.

Significance: Just a minor change, but shows that Katniss can think on her feet, and also has some of the minor healing abilities that she shares with her sister and mother.

27: The romance is all for the cameras

Book version: In the book it is clear that Katniss believes the “romance” angle is an act to lure sponsor but mentions that sometimes she is left confused by her feelings growing for Peeta and her lingering feelings for Gale.

Movie version: It is unclear how Katniss feels in the movie, whether she thinks it is an act or genuinely feels for him. It is obvious for Peeta that he isn’t playing.

Significance: We lose a lot of the back and forth emotions Katniss feels during this scene. In the novel she acknowledges that she does care for Peeta but also acknowledges that she still thinks about Gale. We lose a lot of the ambiguity when it was translated on screen.

28: The conversation in the cave

Book version: Peeta explains to Katniss how and when he first met her and knew he was in love with her. She regales him with the story of Prim’s goat as well as thanks him for the day he saved her life with the bread.

Movie version: They never have the back and forth. Peeta brings up the day he gave her the bread but tells the story a little differently. She never tells him about the goat.

Significance: We lose the revelation that Katniss’ mother and sister are healers as well as the growing closeness between the two characters.

29: Katniss Doesn’t Trick Peeta to Sleep

Book version: Katniss receives a sleeping potion from Haymitch after playing up the romance for the cameras. She drugs Peeta so she can go to the Cornucopia and get the medicine he needs before he wakes up the next day.

Movie version: Katniss doesn’t drug him, but she does wait until he’s asleep to head to The Cornucopia.

Significance: I hate that this scene was changed. I think we lose the fact that Katniss was willing to do anything to get him the medicine he needed.

30: Thresh’s Decision to let Katniss live

Book version: Thresh lets Katniss live after she talks of helping Rue and not being the one who killed her.

Movie version: Thresh lets Katniss live because he already knew she had been kind to Rue.

Significance: Not much of a difference, just a quicker scene.

31: The tribute-hounds

Book version: The dog/wolf hound muttations are released and Katniss describes each of them having the eyes of the already dead tributes as well as some substantial different coloring, which she finds ghastly and upsets her.

Movie version: They are just wolf/hounds that do not reflect the tributes at all.

Significance: We have a less freaked out Katniss and she also doesn’t get to see that the Capitol has extreme capabilities she wasn’t aware of before, but would have been incredibly difficult to portray well in the film.

32: Katniss still almost kills Peeta

Book version: When the gamemakers announce that they have reversed the rule change,  Katniss assumes that Peeta will try to kill her. So she draws an arrow and aims it at him.

Movie version: Doesn’t happen. They just look at each other in shock.

Significance: When she does this in the novel, it signals the fact that there is still some major distrust on her side toward Peeta despite what they have been through.

33: Peeta’s leg

Book version: When fighting the mutts off at the end, Peeta’s leg is once again injured, but more severely when it is attacked. This leads to his leg being amputated and replaced by the Capitol when they are taken out of the Arena.

Movie version: His leg gets bitten, but he is fine.

Significance: The loss of Peeta’s leg is mentioned through the rest of the series. Also shows that despite how far the Capitol has come, there are still some things they can’t control.

34: Peeta’s Realization of Katniss

Book version: Peeta’s finds out that Katniss may or may not have been playing up the romance angle while in the Arena and is completely heartbroken.

Movie version: Unfortunately in the film, Peeta merely says “he doesn’t want to forget” and while upset, doesn’t seem to be completely dispirited and it is never mentioned whether he knows of her ambiguous feelings or not.

Significance: One of the most important parts of the series when it comes to their relationship. It sets the foundation of disbelief and distrust that rears its head several times through the series among the two.

I might have left a few out, but these are ones that I caught. Some are big, some aren’t so big. While I did enjoy the film overall, I do feel like some of these things could have been left alone and not been changed.

About Sarah Sommer

Sarah is a journalist and an artist who lives in the city. She loves movies and television. She reads early and often. Sarah also helps out over at BSCkids.com and our other sites!

11 Comments

  1. Surrent

    March 28, 2012 at 2:40 am

    I hated how they dumbed down Katniss. She was so clever and she and Haymitch could essentially read each others mind.

    One thing you didn’t mention about Rue’s death was that was the first time Katniss purposefully killed someone. I felt the revenge kill was important rather than the portrayed self defense kill.

    I also hated how Gale scared off the deer in the beginning. They were starving and could have used the money of a deer so there is no way he would do that.

    • Sarah Sommer

      March 28, 2012 at 9:09 am

      I really hated how they made her look so much weaker than she appeared in the novel.
      and I did forget to mention the defense kill. That really was one of those moments for her character that shows how different she was than the rest of the tributes. Not willing to kill until it had become a personal matter or absolute survival.
      I also hated that he scared of the deer, but considering they aren’t supposed to be hunting, I can understand why he would have been hesitant to bring it back. I know the peacekeepers generally turned a blind eye to their hunting, but something as big as a deer would have been to much and might have caught more attention then wanted. Although I do agree they could have used that meat for so long if she had killed it.

      • Surrent

        March 28, 2012 at 11:45 am

        It all goes back to there is really no hunger in The Hunger Games.

        Throughout the movie I couldn’t help but think of the Fastball song “The Way”

  2. Anonymous

    April 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    THERE WERE NO ORANGE BUBBLES!

    • Sarah Sommer

      April 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      I know! i was looking forward to seeing that in the film, and was dissapointed they didnt include it

  3. Veronica

    April 2, 2012 at 12:02 am

    There was no roof scene between Peeta and Katniss. He talked somewhat about the force field, which was a major part of the second book.

  4. Linda

    April 2, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I think the most pivotal changes from the book to the movie is the uprising in District 11 after Rue’s death and not having Katness receive bread from 11. It’s one thing to cutaway in the movie to show a district give the three finger salute in support of Katniss (IMO, they should have shown several districts doing this to support Katniss, it’s another to show that an uprising happens, in a stereotypical fashion, because of the death of a rue. The first uprising, remember we learn from Catching Fire, happens in 8 after Peeta and Katniss put the berries in their mouth. The impetus to the uprising in the book is because of the actions of Katniss ,one-by-one, that leads to people feeling more powerful to resist the Capitol and the strong relationshp they have of Katniss being a symbol of rebellion (the movie makes rue’s death the symbol of rebellion – I think this is so WRONG!). When Katniss does not receive the bread from district 11, I feel it also glosses over the relationship people are feeling with Katniss. The movie has diminished the Katniss’s power because of this and I feel cheated and annoyed. I don’t think the sets up the importance of Catching Fire, or the Mockingjay for that matter when it comes to knowing how much of a role Katniss’s unintentional actions play into the uprising.

  5. Linda

    April 2, 2012 at 9:48 am

    BTW – Thank you Sarah for your categorical analysis of the differences between the book and the movie. Each piece of significance you identify is right on! I guess I also resent the fact that Suzanne Collins and Ross insisted there were only five differences between the movie and the book. I realize a movie can’t put in all the details, but adding details like a death that is the impetus for an uprising that doesn’t happen and leaving out details like the Peeta’s artificial leg (a symbol in and of itself that he would have done anything to protect katniss, even cost his own life), her mother and prim’s healer instincts (which become important in Catching Fire and MJ), and not at least introducing, by name the team that crys over Katniss in Catching Fire, and is abused in MJ. Thanks again. Look forward to discussion of CF in November 2013!

  6. Kym

    April 3, 2012 at 1:35 am

    I agree 100% with this article and the comments, the only thin I would add is why they portrayed Katniss and Peeta as just a little dirty with a few scratches at the end of the games… They looked like they just got back from a pretty rough camping trip… Peeta was near death when the games ended and Katniss was really messed up herself. Also if you hadn’t read the book you would have no idea why Gales name is in the drawing 47 times. As far as a movie adaptation I was pretty displeased, but the movie as just a movie- if you had never read the book would be pretty amazing.

    • Sarah Sommer

      April 3, 2012 at 8:32 am

      i think their appearance at the end on the train was accurate, because after the games in the novel they were taken in a cleaned up by the Capitol and Katniss says she came out less scared and banged up than she was going in. But when they are on the cornucopia, I agree they should have looked much more beaten and cut and near death. I really don’t like that they took out his leg injury, but I can kind of understand why they did. (WOuld have been difficult for Josh to portray probably)

      • Kym

        April 3, 2012 at 9:03 pm

        That makes sense as well, My husband and I decided they must have based the movie off of the ‘spark notes’ version of the book, lol

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