‘The Hunger Games’ Author, Suzanne Collins, on Adapting the Books into Movies

When Suzanne Collins set out to write The Hunger Games books, she likely didn’t predict that they would turn into a global film franchise in addition to being bestsellers. But, as her books began flying off of the shelves, it became clear that the story need to be told on film as well as on paper. Her three books: “The Hunger Games”, “Catching Fire”, and “Mockingjay” would eventually become four films that would captivate millions of people around the globe.

The Hunger Games books author, Suzanne Collins, director Francis Lawrence, and actor Josh Hutcherson
Suzanne Collins, Francis Lawrence, and Josh Hutcherson | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Of course, taking “The Hunger Games” books and transforming them into movies is no small feat. While the books are packed to the brim with copious amounts of details that fill out the dystopian world of Panem, movies function differently. Many things have to be omitted or condensed in order to tell the story in what is roughly a two-hour time slot. As authors often feel deeply connected to their books, it can be very hard for them to witness their story be altered for the sake of the movie adaptation.

How Suzanne Collins helped transform ‘The Hunger Games’ books into movies

What many fans of The Hunger Games don’t know is that Collins was heavily involved in adapting the books into the movies. Perhaps that is why bibliophiles are particularly pleased with the way the films turned out. Collins actually served a screenwriter for two of the movies, The Hunger Games and Mockingjay – Part 1. But what was that experience like for the talented author?

RELATED: ‘The Hunger Games’: Jennifer Lawrence on the Most Challenging Part About Playing Katniss

In an interview with The New York Times, Collins got candid about adapting the first book into a movie. She shared that it was a collaborative experience between herself and the other two screenwriters, Gary Ross and Billy Ray. “I wrote the initial treatments and first draft and then Billy Ray came on for several drafts and then our director, Gary Ross, developed it into his shooting script and we ultimately did a couple of passes together,” “The Hunger Games” author shared.

The author admits that she experienced challenges when adapting the books

Collins continued on to share what the most challenging part about adapting “The Hunger Games” into a movie was for her. “I did the boil down of the book, which is a lot of cutting things while trying to retain the dramatic structure,” Collins revealed. “I think the hardest thing for me, because I’m not a terribly visual person, was finding the way to translate many words into few images.”

But since Collins had a hand in crafting both “The Hunger Games” books and movies, which version is most salient in her mind? When she conjures the girl on fire does she see her original version of the character or Jennifer Lawrence, the actor that brought Katniss to life? According to Collins, it’s a bit of both.

Does Collins picture ‘The Hunger Games’ cast in her mind?

“When I think of the books, I still think of my initial image of Katniss,” “The Hunger Games” author confessed. “When I think of the movies, I think of Jen. Those images aren’t at war any more than the books are with the films. Because they’re faithful adaptations, the story becomes the primary thing. Some people will never read a book, but they might see the same story in a movie. When it works well, the two entities support and enrich each other.”

We love that Collins had such a vital role in The Hunger Games movies. We’re sure the films wouldn’t have been as strong without her input.