LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) – Lions Gate Entertainment plans to adapt the new Hunger Games book into a prequel film, reviving a movie series that generated US$3 billion (S$4.2 billion) in box-office sales and made the independent studio a takeover target.

The picture will be based on the Suzanne Collins book, The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes, which is scheduled for release on May 19. The first three books in the dystopian Hunger Games series, about children who are forced to fight to the death on television, were among the best-selling young-adult books of all time, with 100 million copies in print.

Studios are reliant on serial dramas with characters that audiences emotionally invest in over time. Lions Gate, an independent distributor, has struggled to match its success with The Hunger Games film series (2012 to 2015). A later teen dystopian series, Divergent (2014 to 2016), failed to meet sales expectations.

The new Hunger Games movie will be made by some of the people who worked on the earlier films, including director Francis Lawrence, producer Nina Jacobson and screenwriter Michael Arndt.

It is not yet clear if actress Jennifer Lawrence, a major box-office draw for the first four films, will appear in the movie. The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes covers a period before her starring character, Katniss Everdeen, was born.

Lions Gate did not provide any information on release timing.

The studio is also in the process of trying to establish a new film franchise for its 2019 murder mystery Knives Out.

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