With quarantine pass holders being referred to as "Tributes" on social media—spawning memes about which District you belong to and gifs of JLaw's iconic "I volunteer as tribute" scene—the Hunger Games has gone back up to full trending status in the past few weeks. Additionally, the four-part film adaptation is available for streaming on Netflix, and even more excitingly, a novel that will serve as a prequel to the series, called The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is set to come out on May 19, 2020.
With Suzanne Collins back as the writer of this arguably relevant-in-2020 prequel, let's revisit what we know about this uber-successful franchise and the pop culture phenomenon that is The Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games Author: Suzanne Collins
Even before the publication of the first Hunger Games novel in 2008, Suzanne Collins was already a New York Times best-selling author of a fantasy-war series called The Underland Chronicles. The five-book series narrates the story of Gregor the Overlander, a kid who discovers Underland deep within New York City. The first book was released in 2003, and the last installment in 2007. The series has been sold into 21 foreign territories. (via Suzannecollinsbooks.com)
Prior to being a novelist, Collins worked as a children's show writer, and was even part of the staff of some iconic Nickelodean shows like Clarissa Explains It All.
In an interview with her publishing house, Scholastic, Collins shares her personal reasons for setting stories in the future:
"Telling a story in a futuristic world gives you this freedom to explore things that bother you in contemporary times. So, in the case of the Hunger Games, issues like the vast discrepancy of wealth, the power of television and how it's used to influence our lives, the possibility that the government could use hunger as a weapon, and then first and foremost to me, the issue of war."
On her advice to young writers, she says, "A lot of people tell writers to write about what they know. And that's good advice, because it gives you a lot of things to draw on. But I always like to add that they should write about things that they love. And by that I mean things that fascinate or excite them personally."
What We Know About The Prequel: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Set 64 years before the events of the OG Hunger Games novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will begin on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games, and will tell the story of life after the Dark Days, a period "that took place following the First Rebellion, the civil war that was fought between the districts and the Capitol."
If you've seen Joker or Breaking Bad, it appears the prequel could similarly cater to the rise of the anti-hero, a move that has been met with both excitement and criticism online. In a chapter released exclusively on Entertainment Weekly in January 2020, it appears that at least part of the book will center on Coriolanus Snow, the main villain of the original trilogy geniusly portrayed by Donald Sutherland in the film adaptations. Although here, instead of being the future tyrannical president of Panem, Snow is a graduating college student from a once-rich family that is now struggling.
In the preview, the story centered on a young Coriolanus Snow, whose final project in the Academy was to mentor a Tribute for the 10th Hunger Games (an effort to raise viewership and engagement from the audience). Success could mean winning a generous cash prize upon graduation, something Snow secretly needs.
Considering being an overperformining student, he expected to mentor a contender from one of the top districts, but is instead assigned the female tribute from District 12 (much to his dismay).
The Hunger Games Movie Franchise
As far as adaptations go, The Hunger Games was quite loyal to the novel, and most critics would agree that Jennifer Lawrence, then 20 years old, definitely gave justice to Katniss Everdeen, 16.
Other notable characters were Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy. The film was directed by Gary Ross, who co-wrote the screenplay with Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray.
The next few movies moved on with a different director, Francis Lawrence. Philip Seymour Hoffman joined the cast later on as Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire, as did Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair, and Jena Malone as Johanna Mason. Julianne Moore was also extremenely memorable as President Alma Coin in the two-part Mockingjay films. (via IMDb)
Here's the trailer for those of you who may have missed it:
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