Film adaptation of new Hunger Games book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, already in works

The next Hunger Games book is coming out next month, and a movie version is now being planned.

Lionsgate is working on an adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel to her three Hunger Games novels that will be released May 19, 2020.

The initial worldwide print run for the English version of the book will be 2.5 million copies, the books’ Canadian publisher, Scholastic Canada, said in a press release.

Collins’ dystopian series, which includes The Hunger GamesCatching Fire and Mockingjay, has sold tens of millions copies worldwide and is the basis for four Lionsgate movies that earned nearly $3 billion and starred Jennifer Lawrence as the heroine Katniss Everdeen.

For the new movie, Collins will serve as executive producer and write the film’s treatment.

The screenplay will be by Michael Arndt, an Oscar winner for Little Miss Sunshine, a nominee for Toy Story 3 and one of the writers for the adaptation of Catching Fire. Francis Lawrence returns as director after making the three previous Hunger Games movies.

Nina Jacobson will again produce, along with Brad Simpson.

A movie deal has long seemed inevitable. When Collins’ book was announced last year, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Chairman Joe Drake told the Associated Press that the company had “been communicating with her during the writing process.”

But with movie productions halted by the coronavirus pandemic, no release date has been set and casting has not begun.

The film will take place in Collins’ fictional Panem, and center on 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow, the future president, played in the earlier movies by Donald Sutherland.

“Lionsgate has always been the cinematic home of The Hunger Games, and I’m delighted to be returning to them with this new book,” Collins said in a statement.

“From the beginning, they have treated the source material with great respect, honouring the thematic and narrative elements of the story, and assembling an incredible team both in front of and behind the camera. It’s such a pleasure to be reuniting with Nina, Francis, and Michael to adapt the novel to the screen, and having them share their remarkable talents, once again, with the world of Panem.”

Drake said in a statement that Collins’ new novel is “creatively thrilling and takes this world to complex new dimensions that open up amazing cinematic possibilities.”

“We’re thrilled to reunite this filmmaking team with this very unique franchise, and we can’t wait to begin production,” Drake said.

Collins said in June 2019 that she would go back to the years following the so-called “Dark Days,” the failed rebellion in Panem. Collins set the Hunger Games books in a post-apocalyptic dystopia where young people must fight and kill each other, on live television.

“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” she said. “The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

The first three Hunger Games books have sold more than 100 million copies and have been translated into more than 50 languages.

With files from CBC Books.