I’ll admit I was hoping the circumstances behind The Hunger Games movie could be repeated for all the sequels. The screenplay for that film, the first adaptation based upon the series of best sellers penned by Suzanne Collins, was written by the man who was also the director, Mr. Gary Ross. He had some help from Collins, the author herself, and screenwriter Billy Ray. That’s the writer behind Hart’s War and State of Play, not the country music singer.
I guess keeping this formula was a wish that couldn’t be granted. When we look back at the Twilight movies and The Harry Potter series, directorial duties often changed hands from sequel to sequel. It’s probably a lot to ask of one director to commit so many years to one franchise. Of course, the actors do it, don’t they? And in these particular cases, they are young actors, so there’s a bit of a rush to push these film adaptations out before they age too much and can’t believably portray their characters anymore. The nice thing is, we do see characters like these grow up as their stories unravel, so a little aging is natural and it works.
At any rate, film two in The Hunger Games series is called Catching Fire. It premiers November 22, 2013 from Lionsgate and has a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt. Beaufoy won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay when he penned Slumdog Millionaire, which means two things. For one, the Catching Fire script is in wonderful hands. For another, this man knows adaptations. He wrote the big screen adaptation of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which was one of the most believably adorable romances I’ve seen in years. Catching Fire will be directed by Water for Elephants director Francis Lawrence.
It is the third film in the franchise, Mockingjay, which is making headlines this week. The writer doing the adapting for the screenplay for that installment will be Danny Strong.
I recognized Strong’s face right away as belonging to the actor who was Paris Geller’s boyfriend Doyle McMasters on the set of Gilmore Girls. Remember him? Well he also writes screenplays. In fact, he wrote the film adaptation of Game Change, which was based on the book written by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin called Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. I know that’s a mouthful, but just remember it’s the film Julianne Moore portrays Sarah Palin. Strong has two Emmy Awards. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Rumor has it he was approached about doing an adaptation of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, too.
The Hunger Games is on DVD now. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens on November 22nd, 2013 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is slated for November 21st, 2014. It will be followed by Part 2 on November 20th, 2015, provided there’s no apocalypse before that time, and we don’t find ourselves living in a real life dystopian society like the one in The Hunger Games.