Lionsgate Vice Chairman Wants to Film ‘Hunger Games’ Prequels

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hunger Games Prequels Would Return to the Diabolical Arenas.

Burns spoke at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York as Lionsgate’s latest edition of Hunger Games continues to lead the box office with about $525 million earned worldwide.

Earlier this year, Lionsgate made clear that they were already “actively looking at some development and thinking about prequel and sequel possibilities” for ” —because no studio will never let a proven brand die these days.While The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 has closed the story of Panem’s proletariat pop-star, Katniss Everdeen, the power of further box-office potential will apparently keep the franchise alive.

While hardly a surprising move, Lionsgate entertainment vice chairman, Michael Burns has implied that prequel projects for The Hunger Games are, indeed, in the works. Burns said he was disappointed, but that it was a “high-class problem” to have. “The one thing that kids say they missed (from the early Hunger Games films) was there was no arenas,” he said, referencing the stadiums where children killed each other and noting the prior films only covered the 74th and 75th competitions. “If we went backwards there obviously would be arenas.” Burns also spoke how the studio aims to get more out from its other big franchises — including Twilight, The Expendables and Saw, nodding towards reboots, prequels or sequels for each of them. In recent months, Lionsgate has been subject to much merger speculation, especially since February when billionaire media mogul John Malone swapped a portion of his stake in Starz for 3.4 percent in Lionsgate, taking a board seat in the entertainment studio. Besides focusing on some speculation-fueling stock trades affecting the company, Burns also seemed to be the bearer of auspicious financial news, conveying the studio’s intention to keep the fire of a key franchise stoked. Then last month, Discovery Communications and Liberty Global — Malone owns more than a 25 percent in each — purchased its own 3.4 percent stake in Lionsgate.

Analysts were quick to note synergies between the companies and Lionsgate’s stock price has subsequently been on a rollercoaster, reaching a high of $41 on Nov. 10 before crashing down to $33 territory at the end of Monday’s market. Hopefully, the thinking for any further ‘Hunger Games’ movies, warranted or not, will go beyond creating neato venues for adolescents to kill and maim each other within. Fans young and old may have missed the Tracker Jackers and Cornucopias of the arenas, but, more likely, Mockingjay — Part 1 and 2 suffered from being one story split out over two films. Asked about a possible merger with Starz, Burns commended Starz CEO Chris Albrecht as “executing the right strategy, emphasizing hit shows,” and praising their distribution deals.

Naturally, this is idle talk at the moment, but it seems that it’s an inevitability that we’ll eventually learn more about the world Katniss eventually finds herself fighting for. The first installment, released in 2014, depicted the calm before the storm and that low-key entry seems to have put off a lot of audiences from seeing the film’s conclusion. As Burns recounts, the last two films in the series managed to take Katniss mostly outside of the original film’s “fight to the death” premise and evolved her story into that of a populism-inspiring revolutionary hero. At the conference, Burns also called the company’s recent $200 million investment in unscripted producer Pilgrim studios (Ghost Hunters, Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s, Fast N’ Loud) an “overlooked asset” and touted the goals of having a third of Lionsgate production tied to television as well as its aim to “become a more global company.” “I think the town has woken up to the fact when they sell property to our major competition, a higher price will be paid but it will never be made,” said Burns, noting turnover at the bigger studios.

Burns also considers Lionsgate to be “technology-agnostic,” not taking a position on skinny bundles vs. fat bundles, only to say that the studio represents “content mercenaries, really arm dealers,” able to sell whatever which way. Thus, prequel films represent an intriguing opportunity to not only divorce and expand the franchise away from Katniss (and Jennifer Lawrence) and get back to the initial premise. It may not be Jennifer Lawrence—there’s no room for Katniss in the prequels and Lawrence is likely ready to move on—but there is room for plenty of spectacle.

Additionally, with a rich history of Panem’s problems established in the first quartet of films, the idea of shifting the story to the circumstances that inspired the first Hunger Games competition seems like a solid scenario.

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