Fans of The Hunger Games just got a big dose of good news about the forthcoming prequel film based on author Suzanne Collins’ book The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes. Deadline reports that Lionsgate motion picture group chairman Joe Drake revealed big updates during the company’s recent quarterly earnings call. While speaking with Wall Street analysts, Drake said that the film is expected to go into production in 2022. They also shared that the studio is targeting a late fiscal 2023 or early 2024 release date for the prequel to its massively successful four-movie Hunger Games franchise.
The final movie in the Hunger Games franchise came out way back in 2015. Collins’ prequel novel was mostly panned by critics. Despite these factors making a prequel’s success less likely, Deadline notes that Lionsgate believes returning to the world of Panem will help boost its box office numbers. This is at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has largely cratered most major studios struggling to jumpstart the movie world back to normal in light of the vaccine and the delta variant.
While the company’s financial results were largely in keeping with expectations, they were still down due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Hunger Games franchise netted the company nearly $3 billion in total at the global box office when it was all said and done. So, it would make sense for studio executives to think they could recreate some semblance of that success at the box office with a prequel, even if people aren’t coming to the movies the way they used to.
As for whether or not the Hunger Games prequel will be joining the myriad of new releases that also hit streaming services in tandem with theaters, one shouldn’t hold their breath. Although it could create a boon for the company’s Starz platform, it seems all hopes are on the Hunger Games prequel film to be Lionsgate’s way of getting its box office numbers back up, not its streamer numbers.
The Hunger Games prequel was first announced in April of 2021, not surprisingly coming one month ahead of the book’s release. Entertainment Weekly reported at the time that the director of the previous films, Francis Lawrence (no relation to the franchise’s star, Jennifer Lawrence), would return to the director’s chair.
The story follows the antics of Coriolanus Snow at age 18. Fans of the Hunger Games movies know him best as the totalitarian dictator-type figure known as President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland. The prequel story sees a young Coriolanus as a handsome, cunning young man whose family has fallen on tough times. He sees an opportunity to change his position in the world when he’s chosen to be a mentor for a pair of tributes in the Tenth Hunger Games. However, he’s dismayed at his prospects when he learns that he’ll be mentoring the female tribute from the least respected and notably impoverished District 12.
While fans of the original films may not have been clamoring for a prequel that tells the story of one of the franchise’s most reviled characters, he is perhaps the best gateway into the history of Panem and the morbid spectacle that is The Hunger Games. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until possibly 2024 to have new light shone on the world of Panem by way of the franchise’s first-ever prequel movie.