The Hunger Games prequel movie

Are you ready to return to Panem? The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins is, and she’s going to publish a new prequel novel next year which ventures back to her dystopian sci-fi world. And you know what that means: Lionsgate is laying in wait, ready to adapt it into another hopeful hit movie.

It’s been four years since The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 hit theaters and Katniss Everdeen’s revolution brought the Capitol to its knees, but this new story will take place decades before Katniss’s story begins.

Scholastic announced today that it will publish Collins’ currently-untitled Hunger Games prequel novel on May 19, 2020, and Deadline reports that Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake said that he and his team “look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”

The original trilogy began with the 74th annual Hunger Games, and this new prequel story is set 64 years earlier, on the morning of the 10th annual games. Since it’s probably been a while since you’ve thought about this franchise, here’s a(n extremely brief) recap: every year, the 12 districts of Panem are forced to select a boy and a girl from each district to fight in a nationally-televised murder spree as punishment for an earlier rebellion. Katniss Everdeen, who stepped in as tribute when her young sister was selected, eventually becomes a symbol of rebellion to the nation and helps overthrow the evil President Snow.

“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” Collins said of her forthcoming prequel novel. “The reconstruction period ten years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days—as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet—provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

Lionsgate has been talking about possible prequels for years, promising more arena-based action should one ever get off the ground. Now everything is falling into place for that to happen. Lionsgate followed the Harry Potter model and split Collins’ final book in her trilogy into two movies (the film franchise pulled in nearly $3 billion in total), and now it appears to be following Potter‘s lead yet again, with prequels that may or may not be creatively interesting but will likely make lots of money at the box office.

Disney recently swallowed up a key studio competitor, and seemingly every major company is about to start its own streaming service that will likely fracture audience attention spans even more than they already are. So it’s no surprise that Lionsgate wants another surefire hit. Returning to the Hunger Games well apparently seems like the best way to go about achieving that goal, but will audiences embrace a prequel when they know these new characters won’t be able to orchestrate a successful revolution?

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