Lionsgate picks up 'Hunger Games'

Suzanne Collins will adapt her futuristic young adult novel

Lionsgate is the last studio standing.

It has acquired worldwide distribution rights to the film project "The Hunger Games," which will be derived from a futuristic young adult novel written by Suzanne Collins. Producer Nina Jacobson grabbed film rights to the book for her independent Color Force banner in a highly competitive environment two weeks ago.

Collins will adapt her own book for the screen.

Lionsgate president of motion picture production Alli Shearmur will oversee the project for the studio, along with senior vp motion picture production Jim Miller.

" 'The Hunger Games' is an incredible property, and it is a thrill to bring it home to Lionsgate," Shearmur said. "This is the exactly the kind of movie I came to Lionsgate to make: youthful, exciting, smart and edgy."

The Scholastic novel, which is the first in a planned trilogy, imagines a dystopian future (is there any other kind?) where North America has been divided into 12 oppressed districts, each of which is forced to send tribute in the form of a boy and a girl to compete in a televised battle to the death once a year. Released last year, the book had gained modest popularity until Stephen King and "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer publicly gave it kudos, propelling it onto best-seller lists.

"The suspense of 'The Hunger Games' is heightened by its spirit of moral inquiry," said Jacobson, "and Suzanne has entrusted Lionsgate and me to bring that moral perspective to the adaptation -- a charge we fully intend to honor."

Collins' second installment, "Catching Fire," is due on bookshelves Sept. 1.

Jacobson also has the adaptations "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and "Children of the Lamp" in development.

Though Lionsgate just released its latest Tyler Perry triumph -- his "Madea Goes to Jail" has grossed more than $83 million -- the company also has had great success with edgy genre fare like the "Saw" films.

"Hunger" involves a young love triangle in the context of a dark, "Battle Royale"-type scenario playing out on reality TV, much like King's "The Running Man."