It’s officially official: the Hunger Games prequel movie is happening. Ever since Lionsgate wrapped up its four-movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling book trilogy, there’s been talk of some sort of continuation. The franchise grossed over $3 billion at the box office, and you don’t leave that kind of money on the table. So when Collins announced she had written a prequel book called The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, it was only a matter of time until a feature film adaptation was put into motion.
That’s what’s happening now, as Lionsgate has re-assembled the Hunger Games team to turn The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes into a movie. Francis Lawrence, who directed Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2, is returning to direct, while Nina Jacobson is returning tor produce alongside Collins. And tackling screenplay duties will be the insanely in-demand Oscar-winning writer Michael Arndt, whose credits include Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3 and who co-wrote Catching Fire under a pseudonym.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will be published by Scholastic on May 19th and follows the early days of Coriolanus Snow. 18-year-old Snow is “handsome and charming, and though the Snow family has fallen on hard times, he sees a chance for a change in his fortunes when he is chosen to be a mentor for the Tenth Hunger Games… only to have his elation dashed when he is assigned to mentor the girl tribute from impoverished District 12.”
Commenting on the announcement, chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Gropu Joe Drake said, “Suzanne’s new book has been worth the wait. It offers everything fans could hope for and expect from The Hunger Games while also breaking new ground and introducing an entirely new canvas of characters. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is creatively thrilling and takes this world to complex new dimensions that open up amazing cinematic possibilities. We’re thrilled to reunite this filmmaking team with this very unique franchise, and we can’t wait to begin production.”
“Lionsgate has always been the cinematic home of The Hunger Games, and I’m delighted to be returning to them with this new book,” said Collins. “From the beginning, they have treated the source material with great respect, honoring the thematic and narrative elements of the story, and assembling an incredible team both in front of and behind the camera. It’s such a pleasure to be reuniting with Nina, Francis, and Michael to adapt the novel to the screen, and having them share their remarkable talents, once again, with the world of Panem. I look forward to collaborating with them and all at Lionsgate as we bring The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes to theaters worldwide.”
Given the breadth of the franchise, it’d be surprising if this was just a one-off. So expect a new prequel franchise to likely flourish once Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes gets going.
As for Lawrence, he spearheaded the best Hunger Games adaptation—Catching Fire—and after finishing the franchise, crafted the sorely underrated spy drama Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence. Most recently he directed the first few episodes of the Apple TV+ series See.