The Hunger Games return with such a sequel twist that you can't believe writer Suzanne Collins didn't think of film when writing. Catching Fire builds up with all types of subversive messaging which is interesting but also brings into relief the limitations of the genre and film.
The car featured in the film is a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T convertible.
Director Oliver Stone calls the frequent cuts to black and white, where dialogue is often repeated with a slightly different intonation, "vertical cutting". Stone explains that the idea behind the technique is to create an outer moment (the color footage) and an inner moment (the black and white footage) at the same time. For example, he explains this in relation to the waitress in the opening scene (O-Lan Jones), who whilst taking Mickey's order in the 'outer' scene is actually flirting with him (or thinking about flirting with him) in the 'inner' scene. Also in the opening scene, when the cowboy ('James Gammon') refers to Mallory as "pussy", there is a flash cut to Mickey covered in blood; this is Mickey's 'inner' moment.
For the numerous scenes involving rear projection, the projected footage was shot prior to principal photography, then edited together, and projected live onto the stage, behind the live actors. For example, when Mallory drives past a building and flames are projected onto the wall, this was shot live using footage projected onto the facade of a real building.
Oliver Stone wanted Juliette Lewis to bulk up for the role of Mallory so that she looked tougher, but Lewis refused, saying she wanted the character to look like a pushover, not like a female bodybuilder. In the end, Stone agreed, but he insisted she take kick-boxing lessons so that she looked credible when fighting.
In a scene in the mess hall in the prison, a bald white man is staring at a black man, prompting the black man to try to attack him, before being intercepted by Warden McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones). The bald man was a real prisoner, who had been convicted of murdering his wife and children by beating them to death with a lead pipe. Oliver Stone gave him a featured role because he said the man's stoicism terrified him.
Oliver Stone says that his biggest regret about the film is the fact that he had to cut out most of actor Pruitt Taylor Vince's performance as the prison guard Kavanaugh. As filmed, Kavanaugh becomes a comic character, who Mickey uses as a shield whilst moving through the prison, and who ends up being shot 16 times by the time Mickey meets Warden McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones) at the stairs. In the finished version of the film, you don't actually see Kavanaugh being shot at all prior to stairs. Stone says he was forced to cut much of this because the studio insisted that the movie be under two hours. Strangely however, the footage of Kavanaugh was not restored by Stone for his Director's Cut nor was it included as a deleted scene on the DVD.
In an infamous incident after the film had been released, Oliver Stone and Time Warner were sued by Patsy Byers, with the support of author and film producer John Grisham. In March 1995, 18-year-old Sarah Edmondson and her boyfriend Benjamin Darras (also 18) allegedly dropped acid and watched 'Natural Born Killers'. Later that night, Sarah shot and paralyzed Byers, a store clerk in Ponchatoula, and Benjamin killed cotton gin manager William Savage in Hernando, Mississippi. John Grisham was a personal friend of Savage's, and after the murder, Grisham publicly accused Oliver Stone of being irresponsible in making the film, arguing that filmmakers should be held accountable for their work when it incites violent behavior. Byers decided to take legal action against Stone and the studio, and supported by Grisham, she used a "product liability" claim in the lawsuit, which argued that Stone had incited the teenagers to commit the crime. Initially, the case was dismissed in January 1997, on the grounds that filmmakers and production companies are protected by the First Amendment. However, in May 1998, the Intermediate Louisiana Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's decision, and the case went ahead. The attorneys for Byers' attempted to prove that Stone and Warner were culpable in the murder and in Byers injury because they had purposefully meant to incite violence by "distributing a film they knew, or should have known would cause and inspire people to commit crimes". All of Hollywood eagerly awaited the outcome of the trial, because if Stone was found guilty, it would mean a drastic reexamination of the industry practices and would carry all kinds of far reaching implications as regards the content of movies. However, in a landmark decision, Byers' action was thrown out of court in March 2001, and its dismissal was rubber-stamped by the Louisiana Court of Appeal in June 2002.
The prison riot was filmed at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois. 80% of the prisoners there are there for violent crimes. For the first two of four weeks on location, the extras were actual inmates with rubber weapons. For the other two weeks, over 200 extras had to be brought in because the Stateville inmates had been placed on lockdown.
During filming, Juliette Lewis actually broke Tom Sizemore's nose when she slammed Scagnetti's face into the wall.
Michael Madsen was initially considered for the role of Mickey, but Warner Bros wanted somebody less intimidating, and with a softer persona, as they felt this might alleviate the brutality of the character somewhat.
To prepare for the role of Wayne Gale, Robert Downey Jr. spent time with Australian journalist Steve Dunleavy. It is Dunleavy that serves as the inspiration behind Gale's Australian accent.
Natural Born Killers features character names re-used in other Quentin Tarantino properties. Tom Sizemore's character, Jack Scagnetti, references Seymour Scagnetti, Vic Vegas's parole officer in Reservoir Dogs, the police officer killed outside of the donut shop is named Gerald Nash, a reference to Marvin Nash, the officer who is tortured by Vic Vega is Reservoir Dogs.
Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth were both said to have been offered the role of Mickey Knox and both turned it down.
From start to finish, Natural Born Killers only took 56 days to shoot.
Despite Quentin Tarantino's praise for composing the screenplay, the film's script written by director Oliver Stone, producer Richard Rutowski, & screenwriter David Veloz bears very little resemblance to the source material.
Allegedly, Coca-Cola approved the use of their famed Polar Bear ad for use in the movie without fully understanding the themes & subject matter of Natural Born Killers.
In the final edit of the film there are 18 different film formats seen in use.
The scene in which Wayne Gale interviews Mickey Knox inside prison is based upon Geraldo Rivera's infamous sessions with Charles Manson.
Both Oliver Stone & Trent Reznor wanted rapper, Snoop Dogg, involved on the making of the film's soundtrack but Warner denied the proposal, as Dogg was currently on trial for murder.
Republican Senator Bob Dole publicly smeared Natural Born Killers for its gratuitous violence & sexual content despite admitting to never having seen the film.