Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Hunger Games Prequel Novel, Movie In The Works

We haven't seen the last of the world of Panem.

Publisher Scholastic has announced that Hunger Games trilogy author Suzanne Collins has an as-yet untitled prequel novel in the works — and Lionsgate, the production house behind the film adaptations, is already jumping all over the movie rights. The book is slated for release on May 19, 2020. (via Deadline)

Collins, who co-wrote the first film and served as an executive producer on the entire series, has said that the prequel will take place 64 years before the events of the first novel. "With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival," she said. "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."

It's safe to say that Lionsgate executives probably haven't stopped doing cartwheels since Collins gave them a call with the news that she was back at work on another Hunger Games book. When it comes to top-grossing franchises, the studio doesn't exactly have a ton of feathers in their caps; even reliable grossers like Tyler Perry's Madea movies ($576.8 million dollars worldwide) and the Saw franchise ($976.3 million dollars globally) are built to provide respectable returns on tiny budgets. While they've certainly served that purpose, they can't begin to compare with the eye-watering returns that big-budget tentpole pictures can provide — you'll notice that the eight films in the Saw series couldn't quite combine for a billion dollars at the worldwide box office.

By contrast, the Hunger Games franchise has translated to big box office bucks for the studio. It runs a close second only to the 
Twilight series, the five films of which have combined for a $3.3 billion dollar worldwide gross. With one fewer movie (Collins' third novel, Mockingjay, was split into two parts for the film adaptation), the 
Hunger Games series has raked in nearly as much at the global box office. The flicks have combined for a $2.9 global total, so the prospect of a fifth film has got to have Lionsgate's brass salivating.

The studio's chairman Joe Drake expressed his excitement in a statement. "As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne's next book to be published," he said. "We've been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie."

The news is a bit surprising considering that shortly after the theatrical release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 in 2015, Collins made something of a big deal out of putting the series to bed for good. In a letter to fans posted to Scholastic's blog, the author seemed to leave little doubt that she was done with the novels' world. "Having spent the last decade in Panem, it's time to move on to other lands," she wrote at the time. "I'm thrilled with how this quartet of films, which I find both faithful to the books and innovative in its own right, has been brought to life on the screen... There's no Hunger Games without Katniss [Eberdeen, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence in the movies]."

Apparently, that is not exactly true. The prequel book's time frame will obviously not allow for many (if any) players from the main series to make appearances, so we can look forward to a whole new cast of characters — and, as far as the movie is concerned, there's the potential for another young actor to attain household name status (like Lawrence did with her portrayal of Katniss) by playing its lead.

We know what you're thinking: could another trilogy be in the works? Well, we're pretty sure that Lionsgate's conversations with Collins have involved the repeated asking of that question, but if there is anything cooking beyond this one novel, nobody's saying.

It's a pretty safe bet that the flick's screenplay is being worked on concurrently with the book, and while there has obviously been no announcement as far as a potential time frame for the movie's release, the last three films in the Hunger Games series hit theaters in November. It's just possible that Lionsgate could be looking to strike while the iron is hot and put the flick into production in advance of the novel's release, although this is pure speculation. Rest assured, though, that we'll be keeping our eye out for casting news or any other info we can get our hands on, and we'll keep you up to date.