‘Hunger Games’ Sequels Announcement Shows Panem Is Not Done Yet

Variety recently reported that Lionsgate Films CEO Jon Feltheimer is interested in making more Hunger Games films, even though Suzanne Collins, author of the books on which the Hunger Games movies are based, is clearly done with the universe of Panem, the setting for The Hunger Games installments.

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Lionsgate Films finished up its Hunger Games series of movies based on the books by Suzanne Collins with Mockingjay: Part 2 last November, and it was a huge financial success. Hunger Games: Part One and Catching Fire, the first two installments in the movie franchise, were by far more popular than the latter two parts, which split the series’ third book, Mockingjay, into two films. Even so, according to The Numbers, all four movies were technically huge successes, with even the least successful one (the finale) making a profit of over $100 million.

Lionsgate has certainly picked up on the fact that paying audiences just can’t get enough of the films set in Panem, and so it is no surprise that the studio wants to keep milking the Hunger Games cash cow.

Feltheimer explains that the advent of a cinematic Hunger Games continuation was inevitable, given Hollywood’s recent history with successful franchises.

“I would say that there’s no big franchise that any studio has that they’re not trying to look at prequels, sequels, spinoffs, some version of that. We think that there’s a great piece of IP (intellectual property) with Hunger Games. It’s a great world.”

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Although it looks like the world of Panem will live on, though, it also appears Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, the main protagonist of the existing four Hunger Games films, will not be returning for a few reasons.

First of all, Lawrence herself has said that she does not want to return for more Hunger Games films – at least, not right now.

“I wouldn’t be involved,” Lawrence said in an interview with Variety back in December. “I think it’s too soon. They’ve got to let the body get cold, in my opinion.”

That’s sort of a morbid way to phrase it, but Lawrence’s point is clear; after the second Hunger Games film, each installment made less money than the last, and Jennifer understands that is because audiences were slowly tiring of young adult-led dystopian future flicks. Obviously, Lawrence wants the movies she is in to feel fresh and be well-received, and she senses another Hunger Games film starring her would not be either of those things.

This leads directly into the second reason Jennifer Lawrence probably won’t be returning for the impending Hunger Games film continuation: the studio realizes it needs to change things up. As Comicbook notes, audiences are really getting tired with the genre, a fact evidenced by the poor reception of films like Divergent and The Fifth Wave, and Lionsgate would probably want to focus on a part of Panem totally separate from the adventures of Katniss Everdeen with another Hunger Games-inspired movie.

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Feltheimer alluded to such a fact when he sat down with The Hollywood Reporter in early 2015.

“We’re always looking for ways to extend all of our intellectual property. We’ve seen that happen with ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ So we’re always looking for worlds within the IP that we haven’t explored yet.

Notice that he used the examples of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings film franchises. The Extensions of intellectual property with those series he is referring to are likely the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film and the Hobbit trilogy. Both of those universe-expanding filmic entries retain the universe of the original hit film series from which they spun off, but focus on a totally different part of the world with a new cast of main characters. Although the two aforementioned expansions were actually written as books by the author of the original series beforehand while a potential Hunger Games expansion would have to be an original script penned solely for the purposes of the movie, it seems likely that the Hunger Games universe will take a similar course as the other franchises Feltheimer mentioned.

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Would you pay the price of a movie ticket to see another installment in the Hunger Games universe? And if one was made, what aspect of Panem would you like to see more fleshed out in the movie?

[Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]