Lionsgate have high hopes for The Hunger Games, having witnessed the success of the Twilight franchise for Summit Entertainment. In the past we’ve heard of their intentions to turn all three of Suzanne Collins’ books into a movie trilogy, but now it looks like Lionsgate may follow the trend of splitting the final movie into two.
Lionsgate executives told Wall Street analysts this morning to expect big things from The Hunger Games, a series of four action films that the studio will release from the trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. COO Joe Drake said it was “the highest selling film we’ve ever had” at the Cannes Film Festival and that overseas exhibitors consider it “the movie that can change their company.” Although Lionsgate wouldn’t disclose its budget for the films, Drake says Hunger Games could become an “outsized success” for Lionsgate. The studio says it bought the rights before the books became runaway best-sellers, and it has “retained the majority of the upside” in its talent and distribution deals.
Lionsgate could decide to split Catching Fire, the second book, into two movies, however it’s most likely that the final book, Mockingjay, will get the split treatment. I haven’t read the books so I can’t comment on whether two movies are required (in the case of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it was), but this decision is obviously a financial one. If (big if) The Hunger Games is a success next March then Lionsgate will obviously want to spawn a profitable franchise of its own, as other studios and production companies have over recent years.
The Hunger Games is set in a future America which is divided into 12 poor districts that serve a wealthy Capitol territory. Once a year, each district submits a girl and boy as tributes to participate in life-or-death games. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen alongside Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman) and 24 other young actors who play tributes from 12 different districts.