Exclusive: Jennifer Lawrence Gets Lead Role in ‘The Hunger Games’

The deal got done! “Winter’s Bone” star beat out many others — including two other Academy Award nominees — for Lionsgate’s new franchise

Updated 4 p.m. Thursday:

Lionsgate has confirmed what TheWrap reported Wednesday night: Jennifer Lawrence has officially been cast in the franchise "The Hunger Games."



Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence has landed the coveted lead role in Lionsgate's new franchise "The Hunger Games," TheWrap has learned.

The role caps a meteoric rise for the 20-year-old actress, who was barely known to the public a year ago when she came to prominence in a tiny film at Sundance 2010, "Winter's Bone."

The film, which won the festival's top award, went on to become a sleeper hit in the heartland states, and nabbed Lawrence an Oscar nomination for best actress for her performance as gritty young girl defending her family in a hardscrabble country landscape.

The lead in "The Hunger Games," based on the best-selling novels, was one of the hottest roles in town.

Lawrence was tipped as the "clear frontrunner" four days ago. She got the offer on Tuesday, and the details were hammered out for two days until the deal closed on Wednesday, according to an individual with knowledge of the deal.

Details of the deal were unavailable Wednesday night, but the actress presumably has signed on to stick with the franchise.

The studio plans the franchise as a trilogy which will include "The Hunger Games," "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay," based on the best-selling young adult books by Suzanne Collins.

Lawrence will play the role of Katniss, a girl who joins a survival contest in order to save her community. The story takes place in the future, where teenagers are chosen by lottery to compete to the death in gladiator-like spectacles, the Hunger Games. 

Lawrence, who was nominated for best actress for the 2010 "Winter's Bone," was one of about 10 actresses seeking the role. They reportedly included two other Oscar nominees: "True Grit's" Hailee Steinfeld and "Little Miss Sunshine's" Abigail Breslin. 

Chloe Moretz, Lyndsy Fonseca, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Roberts, Kaya Scodelario, Emily Browning and Shailene Woodley also were reported to be under consideration.

Lawrence recently completed another franchise, "X-Men: First Class," in which she plays Raven Darkholme/Mystique.

She also has a role in "The Beaver," which debuted at the SXSW festival on Wednesday night, and in this year's Sundance winner, "Like Crazy."

Alex Pettyfer, who plays John in "I Am Number Four," is rumored to be under consideration for the role of Peeta Mellark, as are Josh Hutcherson ("The Kids Are All Right," "Bridge to Terabithia") and Hunter Parrish ("Weeds").

Gary Ross ("Seabiscuit") is directing the movie, which will debut on March 23, 2012.

Billy Ray ("Shattered Glass," "State of Play") wrote the screenplay. Nina Jacobson, Jim Miller and Alli Shearmur are producing.

Lawrence is repped by CAA.