Arriving in the Capitol city in the new Hunger Games online experience, powered by HTML5.

Promotional sites for movies are traditionally created in Adobe Flash, but Microsoft and Lionsgate are looking to lead the industry down a new path. They’re partnering on a site that uses HTML5 and other web standards, without plugins, to create an immersive environment for “Hunger Games” fans in advance of the March 23 release of the movie.

HTML5 video bent around a console in the Control Room

The site, a virtual tour of the story’s Capitol city, is launching this morning — doubling as a promotion for Microsoft’s latest web browser.

It’s functional in a variety of browsers, but Microsoft says the experience is best in Internet Explorer 9, in part because of the work the company has done in the browser to use a computer’s hardware to make visuals on screen more fluid.

“The Capitol recommends you use Internet Explorer 9 during your tour for the best experience of our city,” visitors are told upon arriving.

The “Hunger Games” site features a variety of hidden features for fans of the  novel to discover as they wait for the movie. (Hint: Type “ivolunteer” in the Control Room to see an exclusive clip from the movie.) It also uses HTML video in unique ways, skewing the video to fit the circle of screens in the Control Room for example.

Microsoft is looking to differentiate IE9 from rivals Firefox and Chrome. Market share of Internet Explorer has fallen substantially in recent years worldwide on desktop PCs, but Microsoft points to gains for IE9 on Windows 7 as evidence of progress.

Other technical features of the Hunger Games site include high-definition graphics, such as a map of the Arena in the Control Room, which is an HTML5 Canvas element. There are also small particle effects throughout the site that use HTML5 to make the environment feel more active, including smoke, clouds and objects held by characters. Facebook integration brings images of the user’s friends into the site in a variety of ways, as well.

Microsoft and Lionsgate partnered on the site with digital agencies Ignition Interactive and The Nerdery.

Access the site here.

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