The $3 billion Hunger Games franchise looks set for a further boost, with a prequel slated to be published in May 2020 – surely much to Lionsgate’s delight.
Author Suzanne Collins revealed last summer that she was writing a prequel to the hugely-successful trilogy, with publisher Scholastic anticipating such enormous demand it has ordered a record first press of 2.5 million copies.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set in the ‘Dark Days’ after the war, decades before the events of The Hunger Games, and is told from the perspective of 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow, who later becomes the villainous dictator President Snow. This about-turn has proved controversial with some fans, who have voiced their dislike of the prospect of a villain-turned-hero.
It is only a matter of time before the new novel is turned into another highly-successful movie – at least if Lionsgate has anything to do with it – which should breathe new life into what’s currently the 21st highest-grossing franchise of all time.
The Hunger Games franchise may still have a long way to go before it knocks the Marvel Cinematic Universe off the number 1 spot, with its $22.59 billion of box-office take, but it took Marvel 30 films to climb into first place, at an average box office of $753 million per film. The Hunger Games’ four films have averaged a respectable $742 million per film in comparison – considerably more than the number 2 placed Star Wars franchise at $685 million per film, and over a far shorter time.
To put this into perspective, a Hunger Games prequel that performs at the same level as the previous four films would see the franchise climb five places above Toy Story, Ice Age, Twilight, Shrek and Mission Impossible to 16th spot.
Lionsgate’s Chairman Joe Drake has revealed that the studio has been communicating closely with Collins about working with her on the movie of her prequel. Collins co-wrote the screenplays for the previous movies and served as executive producer. This helped make the Hunger Games, along with Twilight, one of Lionsgate’s most successful franchises to date. However, it’s not clear whether the company has secured the rights to the prequel as yet.
The two biggest-grossing franchises though are both owned by Disney, which snapped them up for $4 billion apiece in 2009 (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and 2012 (Star Wars) – sums that seem modest compared to the $71 billion it lavished on 20th Century Fox (2019). The earlier two investments have proved particularly lucrative, with Disney recouping its cash in around four years, and having helped it to a 38 per cent share of the US box office in 2019 ($3.72 billion), according to figures from Comscore. This makes Disney almost three times bigger than its nearest domestic rivals, Warner Bros and Universal, which took around 13 per cent each of the US box office in 2019.
With Disney this year set to release a live action remake of Mulan (March) Artemis Fowl (May), Black Widow (May), Jungle Cruise (July), The Eternals (November), and with the launch of Disney+ in Europe (March), Disney’s dominance looks set to continue for some time to come.
For Hunger Games fans who can’t wait for the book to be published, an extract of the first chapter can be found online.