'Hunger Games' aims to whet appetites with deleted 'Mockingjay' clip

'The Hunger Games' aims to keep fans' fires lit with a deleted scene from 'Mockingjay -- Part 1'

With nine months to go before the release of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2," the final installment of the film series based on Suzanne Collins' young adult novels, Lionsgate is once again stoking fan fervor for the franchise.

On Monday the studio teased "Hunger Games" devotees with a trail of digital breadcrumbs (including binary codes and a Twitter hashtag) that ultimately led to a deleted scene from "Mockingjay — Part 1," which hit theaters in November.

Rather than focus on series protagonist Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the clip gives some screen time to her love interest Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the baker's son and Hunger Games survivor who finds himself in the clutches of the tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

Peeta tells Snow he's "sick of the blood," referring to the ongoing clashes between rebel forces and the authoritarian Capitol. Snow replies that he needs the young man to help quell the uprisings.

"So you're asking me to be what, sir, your voice of reason?" Peeta asks.

Snow tells him, with nonchalant menace, "I'm not asking."

Although the clip and its scavenger-hunt-like release were ostensibly timed to the digital release of "Mockingjay — Part 1" (available today), they also mark the beginning of what will no doubt be a steady drumbeat of marketing for "Part 2," which is scheduled for release Nov. 20.

By splitting the final volume of Collins' book trilogy into multiple movies (a la the "Harry Potter," "Twilight" and "Hobbit" franchises), Lionsgate has essentially doubled the box-office potential of "Mockingjay," even if reviews said the first installment felt more like a placeholder than a complete narrative.

The challenge now will be ensuring that come November, "Hunger Games" fans are still, ahem, hungry for more.

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