A Look Back as We Count Down to the Hunger Games

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Suzanne Collins' first installment of The Hunger Games hits the big screen tonight, or, at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, to be more precise. And while fans have been waiting eagerly to see if Hollywood will do right by the trilogy, Lionsgate and a host of others have built a whole world of marketing, merchandise and other media around it. The efforts range from fun tactics to engage fans more deeply in the post-Apocalyptic world of Panem--and even bring adventure into their own less action-packed lives, to the cheap transformation of the story's characters and elements into product clutter. Here's a look at the more interesting of the bunch.

The Official Theatrical Trailer
To kick things off, here's the film's official trailer, which launched in November.

Even before the trailer hit screens, Lionsgate launched a special teaser during MTV's VMAs. It led perceptive fans to the hidden site www.thecapitol.pn. There, they were invited to sign up for a district, after which they were assigned jobs and issued ID cards. The image here, pulled by a fan blogger at Hunger Games Lessons, shows a chart of each district and its industry.

Facebook Districts
Spun out of that effort were individual district sites on Facebook, outside of the film's official Facebook Page. Facebook fans could vie for the role of mayor of their district by being the most active sharers of a special video. Mayors got their IDs featured on their respective district sites, won prizes and earned access to exclusive content.

Another Twitter effort distributed 100 puzzle pieces to different entertainment sites like People, Cinemablend and Access Hollywood. Upon completion, players were asked to upload the puzzle to Facebook.

Capitol Couture
In January, Lionsgate launched this Tumblr-style website showing off the style of the Capitol's citizens. Initial content included a dissection of stylist character Effie Trinket's look. Later additions included an interview with Ve Neill, the makeup artist behind character Seneca Crane's distinctive beard.

The Capitol PN
The Capitol PN now serves as a Citizen Information Terminal and hub of all things Hunger Games. Outside of links to main content portals like the main YouTube page and Capitol Couture, visitors can sign up for their own registration cards, access the Facebook pages of district mayors and recruiters and purchase Hunger Games-related merchandise on CafePress. News from the Capitol can also be followed on Twitter @TheCapitolPN.

Flashy Fashion
Following the launch of Capitol Couture, these banner ads featuring the film's leading lads and promoting fictional grooming gear and beauty treatments started to appear in fashion blogs.

Capitol Colours
Following a $10 million lawsuit, Lionsgate moved forward with a Hunger Games-inspired nail polish line, with American International Industries' China Glaze brand. Capitol Colours features twelve shades, each inspired by one of the Capitol's districts.

The Hunger Games' official YouTube Channel features videos "officially sanctioned by the capitol for the consumption of District citizens." Along with the official trailer, it includes additional film teasers, cast interviews, as well as the District Citizen Reel, a section featuring fan-created content.

The Capitol Tour
The recently launched Capitol Tour site presents an immersive experience of The Hunger Games' capitol. Visitors get an in-depth peek at the Welcome Center, the Control Room and can get a bird's eye view of the Capitol's skyline. Hidden Easter Eggs throughout promise to make the tour even more fun. Launched in partnership with Microsoft and created out of Ignition Interative and The Nerdery, the site also doubles as a promo for Internet Explorer 9, which, it figures, will allow you to enjoy the experience in full.

The Hunger Games Adventures
Created out of Funtactix, this casual Facebook game launches Friday and invites players to become citizens of District 12. There they can interact with story characters like Katniss and Peeta, who send them on various quests. In the process, they must build out, Farmville-style, their own havens, or "Forest Escapes," where they can grow food, concoct potions and build traps. One of the main draws is that the game will be the first place fans can view the official map of Panem and layout of its districts.

Girl on Fire
Semi Secret Software, the creators of popular game Canabalt, are behind The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire, a new iOS game based on the trilogy. Players join Katniss on a forest hunting trip and must help her flee a swarm of tracker jackers as she makes her way back to District 12. The game is available on iTunes starting today.

Panem October: Fan-created ARG
This fan-created ARG was sending out teasers last June to announce its October 2011 launch, even before Lionsgate's official social media efforts had begun in August. The game lived on a variety of platforms: text messages, emails, online. Led by the mysteriously named Gamemaker Rowan, the game came to an abrupt end in December, with Rowan citing growing "competition" from Lionsgate as one factor.

Seneca Crane's Beard: The Meme
You may want to re-watch the official trailer up top, if you didn't catch the scene revealing trilogy's master game creator Seneca Crane, and more importantly, his unique facial hair. That image spearheaded the meme Seneca Crane's Beard, which has spawned Facebook Page, aTwitter account, interviews and even digital pasties that allow you to see how it looks on others. A recent video on CapitolTV features actor Wes Bentley, who plays Crane in the film, giving an Old Spice Response-reminiscent shout-out to his character's scruff.

NYSC: Train Like a Tribute
New York Sports Club has launched a new class inspired by The Hunger Games. Featuring moves like "Katniss Kickbacks," "Peeta Presses" and "Sprint to the Cornucopia," it's designed to help exercisers master the moves crucial for surviving in the Games' treacherous arena. At the end of each class, the instructor, or "Game Maker" will declare one student the winner of the workout.

Merchandise Mania
Get your goods right here! Not surprisingly, it's more than just nail polish. A slew of Hunger Games-themed licensed merchandise, including crossbow, earbuds, Barbie and even a Peeta pillowcase are for sale at retailers like Hot Topic and Amazon. Can merchandisers get any more creative?

Handmade Hunger Games
And, on the more homespun end of the spectrum, there's no end to the variety of Hunger Games-inspired arrow and mocking-jay themed trinkets and doo-dads found on Etsy. For most of the goods, it's hard to tell whether their original muse was the upcoming film, or the novels, but these nesting dolls, for example, most certainly pulled from Tinseltown for inspiration.

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