Briefly: The next possible big book to film franchise is The Hunger Games, which Lionsgate is developing based on Suzanne Collins‘ novels about “16-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen, who must participate in a fight-to-the-death annual event called the Hunger Games. The battles are televised, and pit youths from each of the Capitol’s 12 Districts against each other.”

Now the studio is really committing to the project. It has set a March 23, 2012 release date for the first film which will be directed by Gary Ross (pictured above). Production is meant to start this spring…but who will be cast? Many names have been tossed around (Hailee Steinfeld being one of the notables) but we have no official word at this point. With the start date looming we should hear very soon. We do know that the intensity of the book will be toned down for a PG-13 rating. (“It’s not going to be an R-rated movie because I want the 12- and 13- and 14-year-old-fans to be able to go see it…I don’t need to have a huge prosthetic budget or make this movie incredibly bloody in order for it to be just as compelling, just as scary, and just as riveting,” Gary Ross said.) [THR]

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