New ‘Hunger Games’ Book Bolsters Lions Gate’s Film Slate
(Bloomberg) -- Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. plans to adapt the new “Hunger Games” book into a film, reviving a movie series that generated $3 billion in box-office sales and made the independent studio a takeover target.
The picture will be based on the Suzanne Collins book “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” which is scheduled for release May 19. The first three books in the dystopian “Hunger Games” series, about children who are forced to fight to the death on television, were among the best-selling young-adult books of all time, with 100 million copies in print.
Studios are reliant on serial dramas with characters that audiences emotionally invest in over time. Lions Gate, an independent distributor, has struggled to match its success with “The Hunger Games.” A later teen dystopian series, “Divergent,” failed to meet sales expectations.
The new “Hunger Games” movie will be made by some of the people who worked on the earlier films, including director Francis Lawrence, producer Nina Jacobson and screenwriter Michael Arndt.
It’s not yet clear if Jennifer Lawrence, a major box-office draw for the first four films, will appear in the movie. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” covers a period before her starring character, Katniss Everdeen, was born.
Lions Gate didn’t provide any information on release timing.
The studio is also in the process of trying to establish a new film franchise for its 2019 murder mystery “Knives Out.” That picture became an unexpected hit and was nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay. The movie has generated about $300 million in global ticket sales, an unusually strong showing for an original story with a modest budget.
The success of the earlier “Twilight” series and “The Hunger Games” made Lions Gate a potential takeover target several years ago, with Hasbro Inc. at one point offering $41 a share. But the company walked away from that deal in 2017 and its shares now trade under $7.
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