LONDON - The latest chapter of dystopian sci-fi saga "The Hunger Games" premiered in London on Monday, with Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence returning as the teenage heroine who inspires a revolution against sadistic rulers.
Despite the drizzle, hundreds of screaming fans filled the West End's Leicester Square and dozens camped out for a full 24 hours to catch a glimpse of Lawrence on the red carpet.
The 23-year-old, sporting a new blonde pixie-crop haircut, wore a backless floor-length white dress scattered with gems.
There were also loud cheers for heart-throb co-stars Liam Hemsworth - ex-fiance of pop star Miley Cyrus - and Josh Hutcherson.
After the phenomenal success in 2012 of the first film adapted from Suzanne Collins' trilogy of novels, Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen, a teenager forced into a deadly battle for survival in the macabre post-apocalyptic American kingdom of Panem.
Speaking at the premiere, Lawrence called her character a "good role model for girls".
"She's strong, and she's a fighter, and she's not afraid to stand up for what's right," she told AFP.
Produced by the US Lionsgate studio, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" expects to at least match the stellar performance of the first instalment of the franchise, which took in $693 million worldwide last year.
It will be released worldwide in various markets throughout November.
The first movie saw Katniss and her friend Peeta, played by Hutcherson, emerge as the winners of the 74th "Hunger Games", a fight to the death between children organised by the evil rulers of Panem.
The latest film sees the duo fighting for their lives again while sowing the seeds of a youth rebellion, setting up the climactic showdown of the third novel "Mockingjay", which will be split into two films due for release in 2014 and 2015.
Early reviews were largely positive, with Tuesday's Daily Telegraph saying in a four-star review that it "carries on the fine work started by its predecessor".