Lionsgate today announced that the studio will adapt Suzanne Collins’s highly-anticipated novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (pre-order at Amazon), which takes place in The Hunger Games universe, into a major motion picture. The announcement was made today by Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.
One of the most eagerly awaited publishing events of the year, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will be published by Scholastic simultaneously in print, digital and audio formats in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand on May 19. The first three books in Collins’s series — The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay — have more than 100 million copies in print worldwide and have been translated into 52 languages; Lionsgate adapted these books into four feature films that took in nearly $3 billion worldwide.
To adapt the new book, the studio has re-enlisted several members of the franchise’s creative team and some of the industry’s most sought-after filmmakers. Color Force’s Nina Jacobson, who has produced all of the films in the franchise, will produce the film adaptation of the new novel along with her partner Brad Simpson, who will also be involved in a producorial capacity.
Francis Lawrence, who directed Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part 1, and Mockingjay Part 2, will return to the director’s chair. Collins will write the film’s treatment and Michael Arndt, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Little Miss Sunshine and a nominee for his work on Toy Story 3, will adapt the screenplay, after previously serving as one of the writers of Catching Fire. Collins also will serve as an executive producer of the new film.
The film will focus on Coriolanus Snow at age 18, years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem. Young Coriolanus is handsome and charming, and though the Snow family has fallen on hard times, he sees a chance for a change in his fortunes when he is chosen to be a mentor for the Tenth Hunger Games… only to have his elation dashed when he is assigned to mentor the girl tribute from impoverished District 12.
Commenting on the announcement, Drake said, “Suzanne’s new book has been worth the wait. It offers everything fans could hope for and expect from The Hunger Games while also breaking new ground and introducing an entirely new canvas of characters. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes 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.”
“Lionsgate has always been the cinematic home of The Hunger Games, and I’m delighted to be returning to them with this new book,” said Collins. “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.”
The deal was overseen by Drake, who bought the original book during his previous tenure at the studio as head of the motion picture group. With the release of the new book, Drake made The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes a priority for Lionsgate.
Jim Miller, the Lionsgate executive who has served as the studio’s project executive on all of the franchise’s films, will oversee the production.
Bestselling author Suzanne Collins first made her mark in children’s literature with the New York Times-bestselling Underland Chronicles fantasy series for middle grade readers. She continued to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age with The Hunger Games Trilogy. The Hunger Games (2008) was an instant bestseller, appealing to both teen readers and adults. The book appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 260 consecutive weeks (more than five consecutive years), and there are more than 100 million copies of all three books in the trilogy in print worldwide.
Francis Lawrence most recently served as an executive producer of the AppleTV+ series See; he also directed the first three episodes of the series. He previously directed three of the four films in the Hunger Games series (Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 and 2) and reteamed with Jennifer Lawrence for the thriller Red Sparrow.