Good news for fans of The Hunger Games, director Francis Lawrence says he would come back to helm more movies in the franchise - but on one condition.
Turning Suzanne Collins' three novels into a four-film franchise, The Hunger Games focussed on Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen as she fought for survival in a dystopian future. In a similar vein to the likes of Twilight, The Hunger Games became massively popular in the teen-romance genre. Although the series seemingly wrapped in 2016 with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, there have since been talks about continuing the franchise like Warner Bros. has done with Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts.
While there is yet to be any movement on how or if Lionsgate will bring another movie to our screens, there is at least one major party who could be interested. Speaking exclusively to Lawrence at Air Studios during a scoring session for Red Sparrow, Screen Rant asked for his thoughts on returning to the world of Panem:
"Look, I love everybody involved - Suzanne Collins, Jen, Nina, the people at Lionsgate, everybody was a really great family and [it was] a really great experience. I feel like I'm done but if Suzanne were to come up with something that she loved that was part of the world and made sense, I would read it and listen and be interested to see what it's all about, absolutely. The idea of somebody just generating a script outside of Suzanne because you're trying to keep a franchise alive... I think one of the reasons the series worked was [that] Suzanne built the stories from a real thematic foundation, she wanted to tell stories to teenager about the repercussions of war, right? And it's a real thing that she really believed in and built every fabric, piece of DNA of those stories from those ideas."
"To just go "hey, we'll sort of spin it off", it's a little like when you search to try and come up with sequels or prequels to I Am Legend you're like, "how can you?" What's it going to be? Is it going to be Contagion? Are you going to do the prequel? So what do you do? You go back? And people talk about, what if you do Haymitch's game? But you know he lives. Because when he was in it, so... I think it's a tricky, tricky thing and I can't imagine Suzanne going back. It was such a huge part of her life and she gave a lot to it over many, many years and think she's ready to just be doing different things."
There has been an influx of young adult movies in the past decade, but The Hunger Games is up there with the very best thanks to its imaginative storytelling and lovable cast of characters. Although Gary Ross helmed the first installment, Lawrence took over to bring fans Catching Fire and the two Mockingjay movies, becoming the overall storyteller of the series. Obviously, anyone could direct another installment, but it is a good sign that Lawrence could be tempted to carry on.
Having said that, with Mockingjay Part 2 neatly closing the book on the story of Katniss and Peeta, do we really need to go back? Lionsgate CEO certainly seems to think so, having already hyped a Hunger Games continuation. If there were to be another chapter, The Hunger Games would presumably follow the earlier days of the games and work as a prequel or spin-off. There are undoubtedly enough stories out there to tell and opportunities to follow someone new, and if the studio decides to move ahead, there is certainly enough of a fanbase out there for more. However, with Mockingjay - Part 2 underperforming at the box office, the bubble may have already burst.
The YA audience may have waned slightly in interest due to failures like Divergent, but remember that the final installment of the Maze Runner series surprisingly became one of the most-anticipated movies of 2018. One can only imagine the financial benefits for Lionsgate if The Hunger Games comes back, so it may be only a matter of time before Katniss or someone else picks up a bow and arrow to take aim at the box office once again.