Despite an end-of-year season packed with blockbusters such as Interstellar, and The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, Hollywood observers predict that the ultimate winner of this particularly bloody box office battle will be The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.
Standing front and centre of this US$1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) franchise is Jennifer Lawrence, 24, a somewhat reluctant celebrity who eschews the spotlight, save for her contractual promotional obligations. For the most part, Lawrence comes across with the same unfiltered humour and good cheer she displayed in 2012, promoting the first instalment of The Hunger Games.
Her co-stars Liam Hemsworth and Donald Sutherland confirm this but upon having the information relayed to her, Lawrence looks at me with a blank stare.
"Well, why wouldn't I be the same?" Of course, such life-altering circumstances as international fame, an Oscar and an income of US$34 million this year alone according to the Forbes list, might change a person. She was also named second-highest paid movie star after Sandra Bullock by the Wall Street Journal.
"It's nice, it feels good," she relents. "But at the same time, it doesn't feel like anything. I don't think you can ever compute those kinds of numbers." She laughs. "My dad just sent me a text message a few days ago, yelling at me for spending $600 on a shirt. And I was like, 'Yeah, I know',"she says sheepishly. "So, in a weird way nothing has changed."
Lawrence earned her first Oscar nomination for A Winter's Bone (2010). She went on to win for Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and earned another nomination for American Hustle last year.
"Well, I suck at doing everything else," she says, shrugging her shoulders and trying to downplay her almost unprecedented critical success.
She has her role as Katniss Everdeen to thank for her good fortune. What separates Mockingjay Part 1 from its predecessors is that the storyline leaves the arena of life-and-death survival and instead positions Everdeen as a symbol of hope in a revolution against the oppressive government of Panem.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is featured on the cover of this week's TimeOut:
Amid the hysterical fandom that made heart-throbs of the cast members, most notably Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, this film is much more substantial in terms of content.
In an unusually earnest moment, Lawrence talks about the poignancy of its message. "It's a really important story about how valuable and how powerful one voice can be, especially living in a world now where life isn't as separated between the people and the figureheads. We have social media now and as much as I f***king hate social media, there is social media now and we have ways that everybody's voice can be heard. And so it's actually bringing a lot of power to the people."
Lawrence is talking before the hacking scandal that leaked naked images from her iCloud account.
She catches herself in this serious moment, and adds with a giggle, "Blah, blah, blah."
Donald Sutherland's take on the franchise is passionate. His signature pale blue eyes fix me with a steely look as he says of his antagonist, President Coriolanus Snow, the tyrannical leader of Panem: "I don't see him as a bad guy. I never see anybody as a bad guy. He's like anyone who's in a powerful situation. He could be the head of Citibank.
These are the people who refuse to allow the increase in the minimum wage; these are the people who do everything to squash health care for people who have nothing. America is the richest country in the world yet has the highest level of death in childbirth; we are the only ones who execute people.
"Look at our prison system. It's for the profit for the people who own those institutions. The healthcare system is only for the profit of shareholders. It's disgusting. But that's what we live in, and that's what Suzanne Collins wrote her metaphor about, and someday, something has to be done about it," he says. "That was what made me want so desperately to be a part of this franchise."
Director Francis Lawrence came on board for the second chapter, Catching Fire, and remained gainfully employed as director of the final two episodes, Mockingjay Part 1 and 2, made for a shared budget of US$250 million (Part 2 will be released November next year).
The movie was shot in Berlin and Paris and introduces new cast members including Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) as rebel propaganda director Cressida, and Julianne Moore as the president of District 13, Alma Coin.
Philip Seymour Hoffman's role as Plutarch Heavensbee marks one of his final cinematic performances.
As Gale Hawthorne, Liam Hemsworth takes on a more substantial role in Mockingjay than in the previous movies. "Gale was held back in the stories up until now and all of a sudden he's a big part of it."
For the Australian actor who was regular tabloid fodder during his relationship with then-fiance Miley Cyrus, the movie presented him with myriad action scenes.
"Physically I got really hurt and injured so many times just from doing stunts all day long. I like to do my own stunts, as much as they'll allow me to do it, I'll do it. But it gets repetitive and you get beaten up." Lawrence says, "Liam broke his ankle. It wasn't funny for him, of course, but I have to say, he looked so cute because he's so big and was inside this tiny little ambulance."
Naturally, the cast developed a strong bond over the years. Like the Twilight actors, they rose to fame together during the filming of their franchises.
But is there an element of relief for Lawrence that filming has finally concluded?
"No. Josh, Liam and I had some amazing fun. I love both of them and we do 50/50 Hangouts [video chats]. Though as there are three of us it's not really 50/50."
She deadpans, "But you're talking to someone who dropped out of middle school."
Turning serious for a moment, she adds, "I've loved shooting these movies and I'm really sad to not have them to go back to anymore."
What: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the third and penultimate movie in the franchise
When: Opens at cinemas next Thursday