Lawrence was nominated for an Oscar in last year's indie drama "Winter's Bone," and will soon be seen in Jodie Foster's "The Beaver" and as Mystique in "X-Men: First Class."
"Hunger Games" has been adapted from Suzanne Collins' best-selling young adult sci-fi novel (the first of a trilogy) by Collins and Billy Ray ("Shattered Glass"), and will be directed by Gary Ross ("Pleasantville," "Seabiscuit"). Nina Jacobson is producing.
In the book, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence is actually 20) is chosen to take part in a to-the-death gladiatorial battle in a post-apocalyptic dystopia.
Before the official announcement, some of the other young Hollywood names rumored for the role included Saoirse Ronan ("Hanna"), Chloe Moretz ("Kick-Ass") and Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit").
"I’m so excited work with Jen and see her bring this character to life," said Ross in a release. "Katniss requires a young actress with strength, depth, complexity, tenderness, and power. There are very few people alive who can bring that to a role. Jen brings it in spades. She’s going to be an amazing Katniss."
"Jennifer’s just an incredible actress," added Collins. "So powerful, vulnerable, beautiful, unforgiving and brave. I never thought we’d find somebody this perfect for the role. And I can’t wait for everyone to see her play it."
Audiences have to wait a while to get that chance; the film is scheduled to open nationwide on March 23, 2012.