Though production just now got underway on the sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate is already putting the wheels in motion for their two-part adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy closer Mockingjay. We learned in July that the studio was looking for a new director to tackle the two-film adaptation, signaling that Catching Fire helmer Francis Lawrence would not have time to prep and shoot Mockingjay given his Catching Fire commitments. Now it appears that Lionsgate has hired Emmy Award-winning scribe Danny Strong to tackle the screenplay adaptation for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2. Hit the jump for more.
The Gary Ross-helmed first film The Hunger Games was penned by Ross, Collins, and Billy Ray, while the first draft of Catching Fire was written by Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire scribe Simon Beaufoy with a later rewrite by Toy Story 3’s Michael Arndt. Now Variety reports that Lionsgate is switching things up yet again by hiring Hunger Games newcomer Danny Strong to write the two-part Mockingjay script.
Strong is a solid writer, having previously penned the politically charged HBO films Recount and Game Change, and he also wrote the script for Lee Daniels’ upcoming historical drama The Butler. Mockingjay is easily the weakest book in Collins’ trilogy, so hopefully Strong will be given the creative freedom to flesh out a satisfying conclusion to the film series. There are quite a few setting changes in the book it’ll be tough to stretch the story out over two films, but Strong’s a talented guy so I’m optimistic that he can craft two really solid scripts.
Still no word yet on who will be directing Mockingjay, but I assume we’ll hear something soon. With a 2014 release date looming for the first half of Mockingjay, production needs to get underway next year. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is scheduled for release on November 21st, 2014, while The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 will bring the franchise to a close on November 20th, 2015.