Francis Lawrence of Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2 will now direct The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Games continue.

Following past teases, the Hunger Games franchise is officially getting a prequel movie based on author Suzanne Collin's forthcoming novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Lionsgate formally announced Tuesday.

Francis Lawrence, who previously helmed Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Parts 1 and 2 of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, will return to direct the new film. Collins herself will adapt the screenplay with one of the Catching Fire screenwriters, Michael Arndt.

Donald Sutherland portrayed the authoritarian President Snow across the first four movies, which circled the nation of Panem and its savage annual affair wherein two teenaged "tributes" from each of the 12 Districts were chosen at random to fight to the death in a brutal arena. Katniss Everdeen, played by Lawrence in the films as a young woman from the impoverished District 12 who survived the games and fought to overthrow this tyrannical regime, was the focus of Collins' earlier books. But The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows a younger Coriolanus Snow at the age of 18.

President Snow
Credit: Everett Collection; Charles Chaisson

Years before he becomes the president of Panem, Snow is picked to be a mentor for the 10th annual Hunger Games. Elation turns to disdain when he realizes the female tribute he's assigned hails from District 12. Nina Jacobson, who produced all of the previous Hunger Games movies, returns to produce this prequel with Brad Simpson.

“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, who also serves as executive producer, said in a statement. “From the beginning, they have treated the source material with great respect, honoring 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. I look forward to collaborating with them and all at Lionsgate as we bring The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes to theaters worldwide.”

Related content:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
  • Book