Suzanne Collins’ ‘Hunger Games’ prequel under development at Lionsgate

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Jennifer Lawrence stars in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.” [Lionsgate photo]

The prequel to Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy is being adapted into a feature film at Lionsgate, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Collins will release the novel, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snake,” on May 19.

“Lionsgate has always been the cinematic home of ‘The Hunger Games,’ and I’m delighted to be returning to them with this new book,” Collins said in her statement.

Set in the same universe as her “Hunger Games,” the new book will be adapted by director Francis Lawrence, screenwriter Michael Arndt and producer Nina Jacobson.

The same team partnered with the studio on four previous film adaptations of Collins’ books — “The Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” — that took in nearly $3 billion in box office. The success paved the way for other young-adult post-apocalyptic films as well as for additional femme-centered action movies.

“Suzanne’s new book has been worth the wait. It offers everything fans could hope for and expect from The Hunger Games while also breaking new ground and introducing an entirely new canvas of characters,” Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said in a statement.

“The Hunger Games” prequel centers on Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland in the previous films) at age 18, decades before he became the despotic president of Panem, the post-apocalyptic successor of the United States.

The ambitious Coriolanus sees a chance for future advancement when he is selected as a mentor for the 10th Hunger Games, but his hopes plummet when he is assigned to mentor the female tribute from poverty-stricken District 12. That was the home district of “The Hunger Games” trilogy protagonist Katniss Everdeen, played in the films by Jennifer Lawrence.

Color Force’s Jacobson, who has produced all of the films in “The Hunger Games” franchise, will produce the new adaptation along with her partner Brad Simpson, while Francis Lawrence, who directed “Catching Fire,” “Mockingjay – Part 1” and “Mockingjay – Part 2,” will helm the prequel.

Collins will pen the film’s treatment, while Oscar winner Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”), who was one of the writers on the cinematic version of “Catching Fire,” will adapt the prequel screenplay.

In addition, Collins will be an executive producer on the new film.

A “Hunger Games” prequel has long been discussed at Lionsgate, which in 2012 debuted the first of four blockbuster movies based on the initial “Hunger Games” trilogy. Along with Jennifer Lawrence, the first four movies also starred Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks.

Jim Miller, the Lionsgate executive who has served as the studio’s project executive on all of the franchise’s films, will oversee the production. Patricia Laucella and Phil Strina oversaw the rights for the book as well as all talent deals for Lionsgate, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

-BAM

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