Happy Post Christmas Everyone,
Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday and is recovering well after the copious amounts of food, drink and catching up with family and friends. As some of you may have noticed, I saw the movie Passengers last week. I did a little review which you can check out here.
As it stars Jennifer Lawrence, it got me thinking about how she burst into the consciousness of the movie viewing public with The Hunger Games in 2011. For four years, it was the hit franchise that everybody was talking about, and any similar offerings (such as the Divergent and Maze Runner series’) haven’t been able to match it thus far in terms of box office returns and widespread appeal.
It’s hard to believe, but around this time last year saw the release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. It served as the second part to an epic conclusion for the series, which became the 15th highest grossing film franchise of all time by making a whopping $2.9 billion at the box office. But as quickly as it arrived, so did it depart. Even before the final movie was released though, there was fervent speculation as to if the series could be continued, and if so how?
At the time of writing, no plans for future films have been announced. But when a series makes close to three billion dollars, you can be sure there are studio execs squirreled away somewhere concocting plans to keep the money train chugging along. The chances of Suzanne Collins, the author of the series, writing another book are slim to nothing; She has pretty much ruled that out herself. But that doesn’t mean a couple of follow-up instalments couldn’t be created from the various side and back stories that were only briefly mentioned in her novels.
Read on for seven ways that the series could be continued. And of course, there will be spoilers from here on out if you haven’t read the books or seen the films but plan on doing so, so read on at your peril.
The Dark Days
As fans of the books will know, seventy-four years before Katniss Everdeen competes in her first Hunger Games, Panem was rocked by a huge war between the Capitol and the Districts. The Districts were eventually defeated, and The Hunger Games was created as a punishment for their people, and to remind them of the Capitol’s power. It would be interesting to explore the war, its aftermath, and how the tributes that are eventually selected cope with the Games given they are a freshly created event.
It could also look at the deal that was struck between the Capitol and District 13, that essentially condemned the Districts and saw the people of 13 move underground to live in peace away from the dictatorship. It was mentioned in the book that District 13 was prepared to wipe out everything to stop the Capitol from winning by directing their nuclear weapons at it. It would be cool to see if the citizens of 13 were all on board with the decision, or did it divide them.
Also, only two characters from the series were known to have lived through the rebellion against the Capitol and the subsequent loss that birthed the Games. Before he was President and before she was a tribute, Coriolanus Snow and Mags were young children growing up in a war. It could be interesting to see how different their lives are on opposite sides of the conflict, and whether anything they experience shapes who they eventually become.
The 1st Quarter Quell
Every twenty-five years, a special edition of The Hunger Games was held to mark the anniversary of the Districts defeat during the rebellion. The Quells were planned at the founding of the Games, and prepared for hundreds of years down the line. As we know from Catching Fire, these games have a twist from the usual format, such as former Victors being selected once again to compete in the 75th Games, which was the third Quarter Quell (though it is open to individual interpretation whether that was really the original plan, or hastily concocted by President Snow to thwart Katniss).
One option for a continuation of the series would be to explore the first Quell. In this instance, the people of the Districts had to vote on who they wanted to put forward to represent them in the Games. An exploration of how they variously go about this would be fascinating and provide plenty of tension and drama.
More story elements could be brought into play, as by this time, Snow would be a young man in his early twenties and preparing to take power as President. While Mags would be in her thirties, serving as a mentor to the current District 4 tributes, having won her Games years previously.
The 2nd Quarter Quell
This could lead on from the above movie, and follow the back story of Haymitch Abernathy, the drunken victor who won the second Quarter Quell, and eventually went on to mentor Katniss and Peeta during the 74th Games. If made, this one would have the potential to be epic, given that the rules of the second Quell doubled the number of competing tributes from 24 to 48.
Mid way through the second book (but omitted from the film), in an attempt to prepare for the 3rd Quarter Quell, Katniss and Peeta watch a selection of past Hunger Games. This includes the 50th Games, which Haymitch won. Katniss describes the arena as “the most breathtaking place imaginable”, so it would be a chance to create an arena that would be a feast for the senses.
And of course, the movie would pack a huge emotional punch, as it could introduce Maysilee Donner, Haymitch’s fellow District 12 tribute. During the games, Maysilee saves Haymitch’s life and they form an alliance that lasts days. But an argument leads to them splitting up, only for Haymitch to be left devastated later when he discovers her bleeding to death after being attacked by muttations.
We could also get an insight to the aftermath of the Games, as two weeks following his victory, Haymitch’s mother, brother and girlfriend are all murdered by the Capitol after he outsmarted the Gamemakers by using the force field of the arena to his advantage, which leads to his alcoholism.
An Anthology Series
Another option to consider could be the development of an anthology series, similar to the Star Wars franchise. One particular block of Hunger Games and victors would lend itself perfectly for this as they were won by characters we are already familiar with. The 62nd, 63rd, 64th and 65th Games were won by Enobaria, Gloss, Cashmere and Finnick Odair respectively.
The series could explore these four years, giving insight into their lives before, during and after the Games. It could also be expanded upon by a slight time jump to include the victories of Annie Cresta and Johanna Mason in the 70th and 71st Games. It would be interesting to see how they all interact with one another as mentors to new tributes, and also see the birth of the relationship between Finnick and Annie.
And there is also the option to explore the seedy way in which some of the victors are forced into prostitution to cater to the political elite of the Capitol. It was mentioned in both the books and the films that Cashmere and Finnick were well-known to have been used in this way, while Johanna refused, leading to the death of her loved ones as revenge.
While the above ideas would essentially be prequels to the main series, the next would be a direct follow-up to the events of Mockingjay Part 2. As fans will know, after the end of the war that saw the Districts overcome the Capitol, there were seven victors left alive. These were Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Johanna, Beetee, Annie and Enobaria.
Alma Coin, the leader of District 13 (and at the time the new President of Panem) approached these seven and offered them the chance to vote on whether one final Hunger Games should be held using the children of prominent Capitol citizens. Katniss, distraught at the death of her sister Prim votes yes, and is followed by Haymitch, Johanna and Enobaria. Peeta, Beetee, and Annie vote against the proposal.
Shortly after this, Katniss assassinates President Coin so the Games never takes place. But if the film producers really wanted to, they could simply move around that by saying that the Games was voted on and passed and so will still go ahead. It would make for a drama filled plot, what with the tables being turned on the Capitol, and also to witness how the dynamic between the remaining victors changes based on how they voted.
R Rated Reboot
Another option would be to do a direct reboot, but this time make it R rated. The films have received some criticism in the past for watering down the violence and oppression of the world the series is set in by striving for a 12A certificate.
This of course made logical sense. The books have a huge young adult following and so the films were always going to be made to cater predominately to them in order to maximise the return on investment. But it could be a good decision to up the ante for a more adult focused series of films.
There would of course be issues that would surround that, given that the series revolves around a televised fight to the death involving children. But Battle Royale revolved around school age children and didn’t step back from the violence, so it can be done. At the very least, older actors could portray the tributes to avoid having a young cast taking on the task of acting out the brutality.
Recently, we’ve seen films such as Deadpool released with the R rated tag to rave reviews and next year, Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine in Logan is following suit, which has been met with huge excitement. It’s a sign that R rated movies are a good way to go sometimes, as although young children and teens make up a good chunk of the film viewing public, they are not the only people filling seats in theatres.
A Netflix Series
The final option to consider when continuing the series would be to forgo the movie format altogether, in favour of TV. Netflix would be perfect for this. They wouldn’t be constricted by the guidelines set out for normal television broadcasts, and could create something really interesting.
Netflix series’ tends to stick to around 12 episodes which would be perfect in this case for including the selection of the tributes, the Games, the interactions between family members and mentors watching the events unfold, and the aftermath when a victor emerges, without anything feeling too drawn out.
Plus, the potential to binge watch means the tension of the Games and audience investment in them wouldn’t drop off, unlike in traditional TV shows where there would be a weekly break between episodes.