LONDON (Reuters) - Hooded people are shot dead in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1", third in the dystopian fantasy films aimed at teenage girls that had its world premiere on Monday, but star Jennifer Lawrence does not think the darker plot will lose viewers.
The tribute "Hunger Games" gladiatorial contests to the death that made Lawrence's character, the archer Katniss Everdeen, a symbol of female empowerment, are over and the action moves underground to a previously unknown District 13, run by a President Alma Coin played by Julianne Moore.
She is planning all-out war against the oligarch President Coriolanus Snow, played by Donald Sutherland, who runs the Capitol which rules over "Panem" and forces elite young people to fight every year in the televised tribute games meant to keep the population amused - and in check.
Asked if she thought the young audience might be overwhelmed by the darkness of the new film, in which the Capitol broadcasts a propaganda video showing hooded victims being shot, Lawrence said, "Well, you know, we're continuing Katniss's journey.
"It's not really about picking up with the games anymore, we're moving into a real war between District 13 and the Capitol so things are naturally getting darker storywise, visually, because we're underground a lot in District 13. We're following her journey," she told a news conference.
The Hunger Games movies, based on the bestselling books by Suzanne Collins, have so far grossed $1.6 billion worldwide.
Director Francis Lawrence said the films were true to the books, and fans wanted it that way.
"I think quite honestly that part of the reason the kids have responded the way they do to these books and these movies is that they're not being spoken down to, and they're being treated like adults," he said.
"We're being as honest as we can and I think quite honestly they can smell it when they're being spoken down to and I have no interest in doing that."
Sutherland, whose white-bearded character President Snow looks every bit the benevolent grandfather, but is the incarnation of evil, said he hoped that if nothing else the films would inspire young people to take power through the voting booth and rid the world of people like Snow.
"The character that I play is an oligarch that exists particularly in the United States but worldwide, certainly in the Western world and that needs to be...brought to account," he said.
(Additional reporting by Holly Rubenstein; Editing by Dominic Evans)