Jennifer Lawrence Lands The Hunger Games Lead

It’s official: “Winter’s Bone” and “X-Men: First Class” actress Jennifer Lawrence has landed the much-coveted role of Katniss Everdeen in Lionsgate’s upcoming “The Hunger Games”, a movie that is being eyed very seriously as another “Twilight”-like franchise, given its massive young adults fanbase. Sound familiar?

Official press release ahoy:

LOS ANGELES, CA, March 17, 2011- Lionsgate and the filmmakers of “The Hunger Games” are pleased to announce that Academy Award® nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence will assume the coveted role of Katniss Everdeen in the much anticipated film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games.”

The film will be directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force. Collins’ best-selling novel, which has over 3 million copies in print in the United States alone, is the first in a trilogy of science fiction/action novels which have developed a global following. Lionsgate will release “The Hunger Games” on March 23, 2012.

Newcomer Lawrence’s meteoric ascent began in earnest with her breakout role in last year’s “Winter’s Bone,” and culminated in an Academy Award nomination. This summer, Lawrence will star in Matthew Vaughn’s “X Men: First Class” and in “The Beaver” directed by Jodie Foster. Later this year, she co-stars in the Sundance Grand Jury winner “Like Crazy”.

Author Suzanne Collins weighed in on the selection of Lawrence, “Jennifer’s just an incredible actress. So powerful, vulnerable, beautiful, unforgiving and brave. I never thought we’d find somebody this perfect for the role. And I can’t wait for everyone to see her play it.”

“I’m so excited work with Jen and see her bring this character to life. Katniss requires a young actress with strength, depth, complexity, tenderness, and power. There are very few people alive who can bring that to a role. Jen brings it in spades. She’s going to be an amazing Katniss.” said director Gary Ross.

“The Hunger Games” chronicles a dystopic Capitol which requires its twelve subjugated districts to pay tribute in the form of a teenage boy and girl, forced to participate in the annual “Hunger Games,” a fight-to-the-death live televised event. Katniss Everdeen’s little sister is chosen in the lottery to participate and Katniss volunteers to take her place. Although persevering through hardship is commonplace for Katniss, she must start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love in order to win the games and return home. The Hunger Games novel has been on the New York Times best seller list for over 100 consecutive weeks. Foreign rights for the book, published by Scholastic have been sold in 41 countries.

The first movie will be based on the first novel by Suzanne Collins, with two more in the series — “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay”. Given the film’s fanbase, it’s a very good bet that “Hunger Games” is going to be a pretty big deal, now that the tweeners out there don’t have “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” to grapple onto in 2012.

The role is definitely a high-profile one for the Oscar-nominated actress, who most people have never even heard of until last year, when she was nominated for “Winter’s Bone”. (No one ever heard of that movie, either, so this is definitely one of those cases where critics made a movie.) Lawrence beat out a slew of young Hollywood actresses for the role, including Chloe Moretz, Lyndsy Fonseca, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Roberts, and Emily Roberts.

Look for it in 2012.