LOS ANGELES -- The MTV Movie Awards handed top prizes to "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" on Sunday night, naming the dystopian thriller best movie and handing honors for best male and female performances to Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence.
But as is often the case at the annual ceremony, upcoming movies carried the most interest, as a number of big releases received key promotional pushes.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," two of the most anticipated titles in the forthcoming wave of superhero movies, unveiled new commercials, as did "Transformers: Age of Extinction" -- and that film's star, Mark Wahlberg, received MTV's Generation Award. He worked in a reference to the movie in his speech while also poking fun at what he saw as the award's significance.
"I know what this really means. Many people have gotten this award before," he said. "And you know what they all had in common? None of them were invited back. This is the ‘too old to come back award.' "
The show, hosted by a lightly seen Conan O'Brien from the Nokia Theatre, is as much a gauge of the popularity of new movies as it is a celebration of past work. Many winners and presenters had something to hawk, and the crowd's reaction to those come-ons could be telling.
Perhaps the most anticipated of the summer films isn't a branded action-adventure but a drama, the Shailene Woodley-Ansel Elgort romance "The Fault in Our Stars," which hits theaters in June. MTV took numerous opportunities to pump the film, with Woodley and Elgort presenting a clip and the show's director frequently cutting to the stars, to the delight of the crowd.
Elgort also was on the red carpet before the ceremony flogging the movie, telling the Los Angeles Times that "we put a lot of heart and soul into it." Awards given to 2013 releases also can serve a promotional purpose, as it did for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" whose follow-up, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" hits theaters in November.
Orlando Bloom's presence as a presenter and as a winner (for best fight in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug") also served as reminder for his upcoming holiday movie, the third installment in that series.
In the press tent, Bloom said he "was lucky enough to play Legolas again after 10 years" and also slipped in that "the new ‘Hobbit' can only be better" due to its further "orc versus elf, dwarf versus the dragon" battles.
The awards, most of which are voted on by fans, can seem like an afterthought, or at least a coordinated effort. Four out of the five nominees for male performance were not present. It was the fifth -- Hutcherson of "The Hunger Games" -- who won.
Like many past editions, this year's show also aimed for viral popularity, with mixed results. After winning the prize for shirtless performance, Zac Efron took the stage and, after calls for him to remove his shirt, had it pulled off by presenter Rita Ora in what seemed like an arranged stunt. (An MTV representative declined to comment on whether it had been planned.)
There were a sprinkling of serious moments amid the raucousness, including Jared Leto citing the AIDS crisis in his acceptance speech after winning best onscreen transformation for his role as a transgender person in "Dallas Buyers Club," and Jordana Brewster introducing a tribute to her late "Fast & Furious" costar Paul Walker, with clips showing the actor's work both in movies and in philanthropy.
Channing Tatum also gave a heartfelt talk after winning the trailblazer award. After Jonah Hill, his "22 Jump Street" costar, ribbed Tatum for blazing a trail as "a super good-looking guy who becomes the lead in movies," the star struck a tone of humility.
"Ten years ago I was sitting in front of my TV watching this show," he said. "I didn't have the faintest thought I could actually be standing up here talking to y'all. I had no idea if I'd be good at anything, much less acting."