Three-time Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence says he’s engaged in talks with author Suzanne Collins and studio Lionsgate about transforming Collins’ previously announced prequel novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, into a film. Taking place 64 years before archer Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) won the 74th Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set during the period of the Dark Days following a failed rebellion in the nation of Panem. Lionsgate chairman Joe Drake previously said the studio, who transformed Collins’ hit young adult novel series into a four-movie franchise that grossed $2.97 billion globally, already intends to develop the prequel novel into a film.
“Yeah, I’ve definitely been talking to Suzanne about it, and to Lionsgate about it,” Lawrence told PEOPLE Now when promoting Jason Momoa-led post-civilization series See. “It’s something I would absolutely love to do.”
Drake previously said Lionsgate was in close contact with Collins during the development of the novel, planned for release in May.
“As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne's next book to be published,” Drake said in a past statement to the Associated Press. “We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”
Scholastic president Ellie Berger said “expert storyteller” and “world-builder” Collins “raises important questions about authority, the use of violence, and the truth of human nature” in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Like The Hunger Games, the prequel places an emphasis on survival in a volatile world.
“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” Collins said when announcing the book. “The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”
Lawrence assumed directing duties from The Hunger Games director Gary Ross, helming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2. He next directs three episodes of Apple TV+ series See, set in a dystopian future where humans have lost their sense of sight. The series premiered on the Apple streaming service Nov. 1.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes releases May 19, 2020.