'Hunger Games' Prequel Movie in the Works at Lionsgate

Suzanne Collins' latest Panem novel set in the 'Hunger Games' universe will be adapted by director Francis Lawrence, screenwriter Michael Arndt and producer Nina Jacobson.

Lionsgate on Tuesday unveiled a long-anticipated Hunger Games prequel movie in the works as trilogy writer Suzanne Collins gets set to release her latest novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snake on May 19.

The book, which takes place in the Hunger Games universe, will be turned into a movie by director Francis Lawrence, screenwriter Michael Arndt and producer Nina Jacobson, who teamed with the studio on four film adaptations of earlier Collins' books — The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay — that took in nearly $3 billion in box office.

Lionsgate's blockbuster film franchise also helped make YA postapocalyptic fiction a hot property in Hollywood, paving the way for such other movie series as The Maze Runner and Divergent. 

There's no word yet on casting for the Hunger Games prequel, which was announced by Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. "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," the exec said in a statement.

The Hunger Games prequel film will focus on Coriolanus Snow at age 18, years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem. Young Coriolanus is handsome and charming, and though the Snow family has fallen on hard times, he sees a chance for a change in his fortunes when he is chosen to be a mentor for the 10th Hunger Games, only to have his elation dashed when he is assigned to mentor the girl tribute from impoverished District 12.

Color Force’s Nina Jacobson, who has produced all of the films in the Hunger Games franchise, will produce the adaptation of the new novel, along with her partner Brad Simpson. Francis Lawrence, who helmed Catching Fire, Mockingjay – Part 1 and Mockingjay – Part 2, will return to the director’s chair.

Collins will write the film’s treatment and Michael Arndt, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Little Miss Sunshine, will adapt the screenplay. Arndt previously served as one of the writers of Catching Fire.

Collins also will serve as an executive producer of the new film. "Lionsgate has always been the cinematic home of The Hunger Games, and I’m delighted to be returning to them with this new book,” she said in her own statement.

A Hunger Games prequel has long been talked about at Lionsgate as a possibility, and the studio earlier licensed the film property to theme parks and live concert tours being built around the movie franchise.

Lionsgate in 2012 debuted the first of four blockbuster movies based on the Hunger Games novels, which starred Jennifer Lawrence. The studio's adaptation of the original book by Collins saw Katniss Everdeen, played by Lawrence, and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) sent to the Capitol to fight for survival.

The four pics also starred 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.

Collins is repped by Jason Dravis of The Dravis Agency and Diane Golden and Jennifer Justman of the law firm Katz Golden Lerner LLP. Lawrence is repped by CAA and 3 Arts. Jacobson is repped by Julian Zajfen at Ziffren Brittenham. Arndt is repped by Verve and McKuin, Frankel & Whitehead.