The Next ‘Hunger Games’ Book Might Already Have a Movie In the Works

With Suzanne Collins announcing her Hunger Games prequel, it didn’t take long for Hollywood to plan the movie. And that’s no surprise, considering the four movies grossed $1.4 million over here and $3 billion overseas.

But does the world really want a Hunger Games prequel movie? While there’s no question the series did very well for Lionsgate, the grosses for the movies declined over time. And then another young adult series by the same studio, Divergent, ultimately did poorly enough that the series was never finished at all. 

Hollywood has become increasingly reliant on franchises, and several this year have disappointed, including Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Men in Black: International  and especially Dark Phoenix. So it will be interesting to see how, or even if, the movie gets made. 

What’s the ‘Hunger Games’ prequel about? 

Suzanne collins
Suzanne Collins | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The novel will be set in the world of Panem 64 years before the events of the original Hunger Games trilogy. That would rule out more adventures with Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen — although that’s not stopping Lionsgate from trying, reports Deadline. 

“As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published. We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie,” said Joe Drake, Chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group about the potential movie.

The book is expected to come out May 19, 2020. The movie has no set release date yet. But should there be one? 

How the ‘Hunger Games’ movies fared

Without question, the Hunger Games movie franchise was a big success. According to Forbes box office analyst Scott Mendelson, the original movie opened to $152 million, which was the third-biggest opening at the time. It went on to gross $408 million here, cementing Jennifer Lawrence’s stardom.

The sequel, Catching Fire, did even better, grossing $424 million, but that’s when the franchise peaked. Lionsgate did the Harry Potter trick of splitting the last book, Mockingjay, into two movies. The first part made $337 million, which was a significant drop from the second film. The final film, Mockingjay Part 2, continued the downward trend, stopping at $281 million here. It seems as the movies got darker, more serious and less action-oriented, the audience lost interest. 

Not all YA franchises do well 

The film series Divergent, based on the novels by Veronica Roth, wasn’t as lucky. Also distributed by Lionsgate, the first movie in 2014 made $150 million on an $85 million budget. It certainly wasn’t Hunger Games numbers, but it was good enough to move forward. The sequel, Divergent Series: Insurgent, did a little less well, making $130 million. Again, Lionsgate had planned four movies when there only three novels. 

However, the third film The Divergent Series: Allegiant took a steep dive the following year. It made only $66 million, half of what the second movie did. Lionsgate tried to finish up the series with a television movie, but lead Shailene Woodley wasn’t interested in going that route. There was talk the series would air on Starz, but the idea eventually died. 

Would something similar happen to the Hunger Games prequel? Maybe not, since Hunger Games seems to have a bigger fanbase, but without Katniss, should Lionsgate try?  

Mendelson thinks it’s an iffy idea. He notes that it might work but also says:

“a huge reason that The Hunger Games was a huge hit was the appeal of its lead protagonist, in terms of her character, Lawrence’s terrific starring turn and how Katniss was positioned as an anti-Bella. Ditto Harry Potter being a hit due to Harry Potter, Twilight being a hit because of Bella and Edward or John Wick being a B-level hit because of John Wick. So, no, a 65-years-earlier prequel is not going to have the same hook as the initial quadrilogy.”

Ironically, Lionsgate controls the John Wick series, whose third film this summer is the rare one not to succumb to franchise fatigue. But in an age where even Toy Story 4’s opening of $118 million is being called a disappointment, Lionsgate should proceed with caution.