To end one of the more interesting searches for a leading lady, Lionsgate has signed Winter’s Bone’Jennifer Lawrence for the lead role in The Hunger Games. It’s the first film in a post-apocalyptic trilogy based on the young adult novels by Suzanne Collins. Gary Ross will direct the film from a script by Billy Ray, with a release date set for March 23, 2012.

The rise of Jennifer Lawrence is impressive. She got her breakthrough role last year in Bone, which was a Sundance favorite, and led to Lawrence getting an Oscar nomination for her work. She then got scooped up to play Mystique (a role originated by Rebecca Romijn) for X-Men: First Class, and now will be headlining a franchise picture. It’s a fast ascention, though with films like this it doesn’t guarantee stardom.Being the lead in a popular book adaptation is good work, but doesn’t necessarily mean the public wants to see you in anything else (remember Remember Me?)

Though Lawrence made her breakthrough with Bone, she had been working in Hollywood for years, and was a supprting perofrmer on “The Bill Engvall Show,” so she’s no stranger to the system – which helps a lot. Having a breakthrough role doesn’t necessarily mean ascendancy, or that you can work in a Hollywood movie. Recently we’ve seen performers like Shartlo Copley make a stab at A-listing with The A-Team, but has returned to his previous director for his follow up. Most Sundance hits lead to someone getting work, but it’s no guarantee.

But this much is certain: Lawrence is positioned to be a big star, and yet is still not even of legal drinking age.

Are you hungry for The Hunger Games?