Teenage fans awaited the world premiere of the final movie of “The Hunger Games” blockbuster franchise Wednesday in Berlin, whose monumental architecture served as the backdrop for much of the dystopian fantasy.
The star of the wildly successful saga, Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, was set to walk the red carpet in the futuristic Sony Center on historic Potsdamer Platz, alongside Julianne Moore, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland and Josh Hutcherson.
Hundreds of fans camped out from as early as midnight, many wrapped in aluminium heat blankets, eagerly waiting to catch a glimpse of the stars ahead of the rare global premiere in the German capital, at 1830 GMT, before the movie hits screens worldwide from November 18-20.
“I think it’s great Jennifer Lawrence started at such a young age and yet stayed so level-headed, so funny and cool,” said one of the fans, Celeste Sopi, 18, waiting behind steel barricades. “She is my idol, because I want to be an actress too.”
Art student Ronja Kappel, 20, rugged up in a sleeping bag, used the wait to draw a picture of the cast and praised Lawrence for “saying what she thinks. Actresses are told they have to be skinny, and she says she loves pizza.”
Ahead of the opening, Lawrence — the world’s highest-paid actress at age 25 — said she felt bitter-sweet to say goodbye to bow-and-arrow heroine Katniss Everdeen, who leads a rebellion against dictatorship in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay â€” Part 2”.
“She is kind, she is ruthless, she is independent-minded. She is strong but merciful,” said Lawrence at a press conference about the character who has battled her way through reality TV style life-and-death games.
“I wish that I could have a percentage of her courage and thoughtfulness. She inspires me in every way.”
While the books of the teen novel triology have sold 87 million copies worldwide, the four-part movie franchise has passed the billion-dollar (910-million-euro) mark at the box office, and Lawrence has topped Forbes magazine’s 2015 list of best-paid actresses at $52 million.
– ‘Dark architecture’ –
The director and cast also said they felt inspired by Berlin, whose gigantic Nazi-era Tempelhof airport building, a crucial airhub during the Cold War, serves as the setting for an explosive battle of good versus evil in the movie.
The shuttered airport terminal, a towering semi-circular edifice of the country’s fascist past, today houses refugees who have escaped real-life war and oppression — a fact director Francis Lawrence said he found “strange” indeed.
“The city has a unique monumentalism in its architecture,” said the director, who also shot in abandoned Soviet army barracks and a former power plant in the city that, until a quarter-century ago, was divided by the Berlin Wall.
“Some of the dark architecture you find in the city suits the movie perfectly,” he told the Berliner Morgenpost daily.
For Moore, who plays the character President Alma Coin, Tempelhof brought back family memories.
“As I rolled up to the set, I kept taking pictures of it to send to my father, who used to fly into Tempelhof when he was stationed in Frankfurt,” said Moore, 54.
“So, it was interesting to be in a place that is so historical and to be shooting something.”
“I loved Berlin. I went to high school in Frankfurt, and it was a different Germany then, obviously, it was before the Wall came down. So to see the city, which is the centre of so much culture and so alive has been really fun for me.”
Sutherland — who plays the tyrannical President Snow ruling over a post-apocalyptic state — said he hoped the story of revolution will give youngsters in today’s turbulent world hope for “a decent future”.
“This is just the beginning,” said Sutherland, commenting on the movie adapted from the hugely popular novels by Suzanne Collins.
“The intent of this — for Suzanne Collins, for me, everyone actually who was involved in this project — is that it would be a catalyst for young people all over the world, everywhere. That they would see in it their doom, and the possibility for a decent future.”