The Hunger Games prequel - Donald Sutherland

A new Hunger Games movie is on its way. Lionsgate is officially moving forward with an adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ upcoming prequel novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which tells the origin of the series’ villain, President Snow (played in the films by Donald Sutherland).

Reports of plans for the feature film have been ongoing, but Lionsgate has now officially confirmed that a movie based on the novel is in the works with franchise director Francis Lawrence reuniting with the studio to helm the film.

Lionsgate announced today that the studio will adapt Collins’ yet-unpublished novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which follows the story of the young Coriolanus Snow before he becomes the tyrannical president of Panem who terrorizes Hunger Games protagonist Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence in the films).

Here is the logline for the film:

“Young Coriolanus 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.”

While the novel won’t hit bookshelves worldwide until May 19, Lionsgate is already moving ahead with the film, which will be directed by Francis Lawrence, who returns to the director’s chair after helming Hunger Games films Catching FireMockingjay Part 1, and Mockingjay Part 2. Lionsgate is reuniting much of the franchise’s old creative team, including Color Force’s Nina Jacobson, who produced all Hunger Games films and will be producing the new film with her partner Brad Simpson. Collins, who is also executive producing, is set to write the film’s treatment while Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt has been brought on board to pen the screenplay.

“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.”

The Hunger Games movie prequel has been in the works at Lionsgate for nearly a year, before the details on Collins’ unpublished novel had even been revealed. But The Hunger Games series has been a big moneymaker for Lionsgate, which has been seeking a new mega-franchise to rival the $3 billion worldwide property ever since. It got close with the unexpected R-rated success of the John Wick films, but there hasn’t been a massive YA franchise quite like The Hunger Games wrapped up in 2015. And Collins likely couldn’t resist a guaranteed movie deal with Lionsgate, despite no one really asking for a President Snow prequel that doesn’t star Donald Sutherland. But perhaps an anti-hero movie about a rich, white man’s rise to tyranny will be all the rage.

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