Can The Hunger Games prequel compete with record-breaking predecessors?

By Vicki Newman
jennifer lawrence in the hunger games

The Hunger Games is returning with its first movie in eight years, but is it destined for the same success as its predecessors?

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, based on the 2020 book of the same name, is a prequel to the hit dystopian action series based on the best-selling book series by Suzanne Collins.

Set 64 years before the events of the first film, which sees Katniss Everdeen volunteer as tribute in the annual Hunger Games when her younger sister is selected, the prequel follows the hated President Snow’s rise to power.

In this film, he acts as a mentor for the upcoming 10th Hunger Games – a brutal battle that pits two tributes from each of Panem’s districts against each other in a fight to the death – long before he becomes the tyrannical leader fans of the first four movies will be familiar with.

The film, starring Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow alongside Rachel Zegler and Peter Dinklage, hits cinemas today and the pressure is on to perform as well as the releases that came before it.

The second film in the series, Catching Fire (2013) became the highest-grossing post-apocalypse movie in 2014 after it took $424,668,047 (£255,278,000) in the USA and $864,565,663 (£519,711,000) at the worldwide box office.

Previous to that, the first movie, The Hunger Games (2012) held this record after making $408,010,692 (£252,824,000) at the US box office and $691,247,768 (£428,333,000) worldwide.

The franchise actually completely dominates the genre, with Mockingjay – Part 1 and Mockingjay – Part 2 – the two-part adaptation of the third book in the series – holding the third and fourth spots in the highest-grossing post-apocalypse movies of all time.

The films have collectively made more than $2.07 billion worldwide and according to Box Office Mojo, all outrank the likes of The Matrix, I Am Legend and Mad Max: Fury Road.

That collective box office gross for the four movies also make the series the highest-grossing dystopian book movie adaptation series.

Thanks to her portrayal of the series’ protagonist Katniss Everdeen, as well as her role as Raven/Mystique in the X-Men franchise, Jennifer Lawrence is the highest-grossing female action movie star.

Katniss was also named the highest-grossing action-movie heroine in 2012.

The movies were so popular with their target audience that they also jointly hold the record for most Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards won by a movie franchise (3) with Alvin and the Chipmunks. The first three Hunger Games movies won the Favourite Movie prize three years running at the ceremony from 2013 to 2015 .

The books the films are based on are just as record-breaking.

The Hunger Games trilogy became the best-selling book series for children in one year in 2013.

The previous year, 15 million print copies of the book were sold and a further 12.7 million e-books were bought by readers – totalling 27.7 million copies in just one year.

Collins was also the first children’s author to sell one million e-books on Kindle. She became the sixth author of all time to surpass the mark, but the first who was targeting a young audience.

Will you be going to see The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes?

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