March 28, 2012 12:00 PM

WELCOME!

The countdown has begun to the most-anticipated film opening since the Twilight series. On March 23 theaters across the country will host The Hunger Games. In anticipation, the editors of PEOPLE have put together this special issue that will introduce you to Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, and the rest of the cast. You’ll go behind the scenes, get the scoop on how the spectacular costumes were created and learn how the stars trained for their roles. With lots of pictures, exclusive interviews, insider secrets and all the style info you need to dress like a tribute, here’s looking forward to The Hunger Games.

8 Let the Games Begin!

As The Hunger Games hits theaters, here’s a look at key scenes from the movie and how Suzanne Collins’s 2008 novel became an international phenomenon

38 Peeta Mellark

Josh Hutcherson reveals why he’s perfect to play courageous baker’s son Peeta, what he loves about leading lady Jennifer Lawrence and his most intense day of shooting

46 Gale Hawthorne

Liam Hemsworth talks about why he was drawn to the role of Gale—and whether he’s ready for Hunger Games mania

54 The Tributes

Meet the actors who play Marvel, Glimmer and all the other combatants in the Games

70 Friends and Foes

A-list costars Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland talk about taking on their pivotal roles in the movie

72 Effie Trinket

Elizabeth Banks delivers the scoop on how she transformed into the Capitol’s devilish diva. Plus, how to mimic Effie’s colorful, avant-garde style

76 Get Katniss’s Look

How to achieve the rustic vibe (from both District 12 and the Games) and the outfit from her Games interview

ON THE COVERS PHOTOGRAPHS BY JEFF RIEDEL/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES. INSETS: MURRAY CLOSE/LIONSGATE.

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