A new era for The Hunger Games has begun, as Lionsgate is gearing up for a Hunger Games Prequel movie set within the wildly popular YA franchise. This comes as it has been revealed that Suzanne Collins, author of the original series of books, is planning to release a prequel novel sometime next year. Once the book hits shelves, Lionsgate will be at the ready to adapt it into a new movie in order to keep the dystopian money train moving in the right direction.
According to a new report, Scholastic Books intends to release the new book, which hasn't had its titled revealed yet, in 2020. While work on the movie surely won't start properly until the book has actually hit shelves, Lionsgate has already been working with Suzanne Collins during the writing process, which means they're eager to get this project going. Here's what Joe Drake, chairman of Lionsgate, had to say in a statement.
"As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne's next book to be published. We've been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie."
While full plot details haven't been revealed, the new novel will take place 64 years prior to the events of the original tale. That will put it on track for the tenth annual Hunger Games. Given the time period, that essentially rules out any return actors from the original four movies, which means the studio will have to go with an entirely new cast. That could present something of a marketing challenge, but Warner Bros. was able to make it work well enough with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as a prequel to the Harry Potter movies. So there's no reason Lionsgate can't do the same here.
This is a move that makes every bit of sense for Lionsgate. They've been struggling to find a hit franchise outside of Twilight and The Hunger Games in recent years. Save for the John Wick movies, they don't have much else in the way of franchises and the studio has been under pressure to deliver more big hits that will appeal to younger audience members. Instead, they've delivered costly flops, such as last year's Robin Hood and 2017's Power Rangers.
The Hunger Games movies proved to be tremendously huge hits, bringing in a combined $2.96 billion worldwide. By the time Mockingjay - Part 2 rolled around, audiences seemed to be a little burnt out, as the final entry posted a series-low $653 million take at the box office, but that's still a solid hit. As such, the studio has also licensed theme park attractions and a live concert tour themed after the movies. The original cast included Jennifer Lawrence as protagonist Katniss Everdeen, alongside Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz. We'll be sure to keep you posted as any further details on the project are made available. This news was previously reported by The Hollywood Reporter.