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November 20, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Premiere


When Brynn S.'s good friend called her up, she was expecting to talk about school, mutual friends -- all of the usual stuff. She was NOT expecting to be invited to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part the L.A. premiere. And go to the after-party. What?! Below, she outlines her amazing experience celebrating the end of one of the best YA franchises ever written (and filmed). Go vicariously through her.

About a week and a half ago, my friend Danielle called me and said something along the lines of, “my sister can’t come anymore. Would you like to come along and take her place?” I said yes and lots of screaming ensued. What was happening? Well, in a week and half, I would be skipping two days of school to fly across the country to L.A, where I would not only be seeing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 early with Danielle and her mom, but I’d be going to the official after-party where some of the cast would be in attendance. I might sound relatively calm explaining this, but that definitely wasn’t how I was during the trip. 

The days before the premiere stretched out slowly before me, turning into the longest week or so of my entire life. When the day finally came, we got dressed up and headed to go collect our tickets. Unfortunately, our tickets didn’t include red carpet access, so I did not get to see the cast walk down the red carpet, but I had hoped that we would run into some cast members at the after party. We went into the theater and managed to find our seats. The theater was gigantic and could fit 7,000 people, which was crazy. The screen was also huge, blazing a large Mockingjay logo on it as everyone came in and started to find their seats. Danielle and I went to the bathroom at one point and on the way back, just happened to run into the actress that played President Snow’s granddaughter. It was a good way to start off the night, and she was super, super sweet. 

Finally, everyone filed into the theater. Francis Lawrence, the director, and Nina Jacobson, one of the producers, came out on stage and thanked different people before introducing the cast members as they came out on stage. If you told my fifth-grade self that I would be sitting in the same theater as Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, I would have probably burst into tears. It was so surreal to see the people that have brought one of my favorite series to life in the flesh, right in front of me. The cast got to their seats and the movie started. It was fantastic and I had a bittersweet feeling watching the movies come to a close. Danielle and I were both left sobbing at the end, but we had to pull it together to go straight to the after party. Let me tell you, walking down the sidewalk as I tried to push down all my emotions was tough. 

The after-party was on top of a parking garage in a tent next door to the theater. The tickets to get in were super cool --- they looked like holograms, and when you moved them up and down, the picture would change from a statue of President Snow sitting in a chair to the statue being broken to Katniss sitting in the same chair. We walked up the stairs, and it was quickly evident that the theme was President Snow’s mansion. The front of the tent projected a picture of his mansion with a mockingjay on it and there were drummers in the front leading up to the entrance. There was also a giant statue of a hand doing a three finger salute. As we took this all in, I noticed Stef Dawson (Annie Cresta) standing alone in the middle of the crowd. We went up and got a picture with her and had a quick conversation with her. It was the first time she had seen the movie too, and she said she cried. Overall, she was super, super sweet. 

We went inside the tent, and there were a bunch of small tables and couches set up around the large room. In the center, there was a huge jungle gym-like complex with flowers inside it to represent President Snow’s greenhouse. Some of the walls were decorated with different posters of revolution-related graffiti (things like “join us” and “the mockingjay lives.”) In the center, there were different people dressed up in costumes too complex to even describe. Overall, they looked very Capitol-like. TV screens had the movie logos on them and, of course, there were lots of roses. 

The whole thing was so well decorated and incredibly overwhelming. All of it was just so casual; I walked around and randomly see Willow Shields (Prim) standing and talking to someone. It was amazing and I’m still wonderstruck at how she’s my age but has accomplished so much. Right before we met Willow, Danielle and I met Natalie Dormer (Cressida). I did not even expect to see her, let alone stand right next to her and talk to her. Even days after, I’m pinching myself to see if this all actually happened to me or if it was some really strange and amazing dream. 

Some of the old cast members came to the premiere, too. Isabelle Fuhrman, who played Clove in the first movie, was standing a few people in front of us when we got in line for food. She was super sweet, as were two other actresses we got to meet at the cast party: Jacqueline Emerson (Foxface) and Amandla Stenberg (Rue). As we walked around, we saw more cast members but didn’t get a chance to meet them, including Donald Sutherland (President Snow himself) Jena Malone (Johanna) and Sam Claflin (Finnick). Later in the party, we met both Leegs, played by Kim and Misty Ormiston, as well as Eugenie Bondurant, who played Tigress. She told us about how it took six hours just to put on all of the makeup she had to wear for the part. Then, we saw Suzanne Collins herself. I wish we got the chance to talk to her, but the whole entire time she was surrounded by a little posse of people (including fellow YA author David Levithan).

After all of this, we finally sat down and got some food from a buffet. Sitting down at our table, we noticed a line forming on the side of the room. Once we finished, we went over to get in the line. It was for a Samsung tent, where you could go and experience a virtual reality based off the movie. The virtual reality experience was six minutes long and super cool. It was a complete 360 so you could spin around in your chair and get a view of everything. The experience just moved through all four of the movies, playing different scenes with audio in the background. It felt like I was right in the middle of the action. Once we finished that, the after party started to wind down. We walked around the room one more time before deciding to go since we had to get up in about five hours to catch a flight. 

The whole premiere was unforgettable and I’m so incredibly thankful that I got to experience it for myself. I got to say goodbye to the franchise in the best way possible, and in a way I never saw coming. 

Brynn S. is a Teen Board member.