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It’s no secret that Lionsgate doesn’t want to let the money printing machine that is The Hunger Games franchise go. We already knew they were interested in looking at the potential for sequels or prequels to the franchise that just wrapped its initial story with the last film based on the existing novels. They aren't wasting any time, as the Vice Chairman of Lionsgate has gone on record saying the franchise, "will live on and on."
The studio is apparently in the very early stages, but is specifically looking at developing prequel stories into future movies. According to Variety, Michael Burns of Lionsgate made the disclosure today as part of a conference he’s attending in New York. While The Hunger Games as a franchise has been successful, the most recent film, Mockingjay: Part 2, has been slower at the box office than any of the previous films.
In what may be the most telling comment, Burns chalks up the later films lack of a success to the lack of arena battles that take place in Mockingjay. The first two movies contained the actual Hunger Games competitions, while the final two did not. According to Burns, younger fans missed the arenas, which is why the later films were less successful. This is apparently the reason they are eyeing prequels rather than sequels, as a film set prior to the first book would contain Hunger Games once again.
This seems to be an incredibly simplistic view of the relative merits of the various films. To simply say "kids like arenas" discounts the scripts, the plots, and the performances entirely. While many Hunger Games fans would likely be interested in seeing more films, they’re probably interested in seeing good ones, not simply a particular type of action sequence.
The topic of more movies in the series has been on people’s minds since even before the most recent film was released. Francis Lawrence, the man who directed all of the Hunger Games films, except the first, previously said he would be interested in returning to direct more movies in the series, but only if the stories come from Suzanne Collins, the author of the books. There’s no mention of Collins involvement here, and we’d be surprised that her name wasn’t dropped if she is involved, so perhaps we can infer that she isn’t. Lawrence has also said that the idea of doing prequels is problematic, as going back to see the games where Woody Harrelson's character competed, as an example, loses drama because the outcome is already known. The other problem is that seeing another set of Games, when you’ve already watched civilization collapse, doesn’t exactly ratchet up the tension.
While the desire to continue a successful franchise is understandable, it’s one thing to have a great idea that you might be able to make into a financially successful film. It’s quite another to try to sell a movie based on a plot device. Are you excited at the potential for more Hunger Games movies? Is this the right way to do it?