Francis Lawrence, director of such films as I Am Legend and Water For Elephants, will direct the final two films in the Hunger Games franchise. Lawrence is currently at the helm of Catching Fire, the second film in the series.
The Hunger Games series is based on a trilogy of best-selling young adult novels by Suzanne Collins. The story is set in a dystopian version of the US where teenagers are forced to battle to the death in a public arena, an effort of the all-powerful government to keep the general populace in check. As seems to be the fashion with film adaptations at the moment (see Twilight and The Hobbit), the final instalment of the trilogy will be split over two films, Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2, meaning that the series will contain four films overall.
Lionsgate, the studio behind The Hunger Games, were left with a difficult decision earlier this year after Gary Ross, director of the first film and firm favourite to continue with the series, unexpectedly pulled out of directing any of the follow-up films. Ross cited schedule pressures as his main reason, claiming that he wouldn’t feel able to make the films he would want in the planned timescale.
Lionsgate were understandably keen to capitalise on the phenomenal success of film number one as quickly as possible; so far, the film has grossed almost $700 million worldwide. There was much speculation about who would step up to the plate; suggestions included Bennett Miller and Tony Scott (who sadly killed himself in August this year). Some were also hopeful that a woman might be offered the job, putting forward the likes of Kathryn Bigelow and Lynne Ramsay. However, it was Lawrence, who comes from a background of music video direction, who won the day, and now it appears that he will stick with the franchise right to the end.
With film number two, Catching Fire, still in production, we can look forward to our next glimpse of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and co. in November 2013. The planned release date for Mockingjay Part 1 is November 1st 2015 (with Part 2 to follow a year later).