Fans of the “Hunter Games” franchise—and/or the film’s star, Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence—lined up inside the Tinseltown cineplex in the East End on Wednesday night to view an early showing (for charity) of the latest installment in the movie series.
“Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is out officially on Friday, though showing are set to begin in Louisville Thursday evening. The film stars Lawrence as an unwilling warrior living in a dystopian future. The first installment released last year grossed $408 million domestically.
(WFPL has an interview with the actress. Tune in to 89.3 this morning or check back to WFPL.org later today.)
Individual tickets for Wednesday night’s showing were $125, but the proceeds are destine for St. Mary’s Center, a Louisville non-profit that gives adults and teenagers with intellectual disabilities “vocational, functional, academic and socialization training.”
Wednesday night’s showing was organized through the new Jennifer Lawrence Foundation, which is collaboration between the actress’ mother, Karen Lawrence, and her sister-in-law, Meredith Lawrence, and the Community Foundation. Jennifer Lawrence covered the cost of the showing, which sold out. Karen and Meredith Lawrence said they expect to provide more than $40,000 to St. Mary’s Center.
Jennifer Lawrence, who was in New York on Wednesday and didn’t attend the showing, has been longtime friends with her Louisville neighbor Andy Struck, who has Down’s syndrome. Karen Lawrence said the effort to help St. Mary’s Center stems from that friendship.
“I told Jen about it and we hatched the idea—what can we do to raise money to get this school opened?” Karen Lawrence said.
“She’s always had a special place for children with special needs and Down’s, so she’s using her celebrity status to bring awareness and help raise funds for organizations that she feels close to.”
Karen and Meredith Lawrence said they expect to do more fundraisers for non-profits based on similar local film premieres.
St. Mary’s Center has 153 participants—400 if you include sports, said Ann Hurst, its director of development.
The non-profit is planning to move to a 20,000-square foot facility on Aiken Road that includes a gym and a garden, where participants will grow plants and later sell plants and flowers at farmer’s markets, Hurst said.
St. Mary’s has raised $1.9 million, and Hurst said the funds raised through Wednesday night’s “Catching Fire” showing will further help their group. But she added that the awareness raised by having support from an Oscar-winning actress is just as valuable.
“It gives us name recognition,” Hurst said. “We were able to get out in the community and people know who we are.”