How could The Hunger Games movie series be expanded?

Plans are apparently afoot for more The Hunger Games movies after Mockingjay - Part 2 hits cinemas in 2015. But where next can the story go?

We recently reported that The Hunger Games world might not be quite as finished as we thought when the final film of franchise is released in November 2015. That Lionsgate is reported to be having conversations about how to prolong the movie series.

But where could it go if it chooses to do that?

The stories themselves have already been expanded to a degree, with the film adaptations of Suzanne Collins’ books looking beyond Katniss Everdeen’s perspective. While the novels saw only what Katniss saw, the films began investigating what was happening with other characters, like President Snow or Gale Hawthorne, while she was busy trying not to get killed in the arena.

We have seen into the Capitol and the other districts, and the world of Panem got even larger with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. However, with all three of Suzanne Collins’ powerful novels already covered with the films, the question remains: how could these stories be expanded further?

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The Hunger Games Origins: Katniss

The obvious choice seems to be a prequel, though the word may scare many people, given the mixed reception to the prequel efforts of other films (I’m looking at you, Star Wars). The potential, though, is vast. After all, so much of what makes Katniss who she is comes down to what came before.

There’s the beginning of her friendship with Gale and the shift in her family dynamic after her father’s death – and that’s just the start of it. What was District 12 like a few years before the first book begins? Where were Haymitch and Effie? There’s also the infamous moment when Peeta threw Katniss the loaf of bread that basically saved her life, and all the times he thought about her even though she didn’t notice him at all.

The strongest element of all of this has to be the loss of Katniss’s father itself, because the impact of it is felt throughout all three of the novels (not quite so much in the films but it’s still there if you look hard enough). His loss ripples across the pages, not just with Katniss herself but with her mother and sister. Katniss’ mother shut down when her husband died. We know this because we learn early on that Katniss had been looking after the family ever since. It would be so interesting to see what she was like before this event, what Katniss and Prim were like together when they didn’t carry quite so much on their young shoulders.

Maybe, just maybe, Katniss’s mother will finally be allowed a first name, too.

Gale’s story

Many Twilight fans were giddy with excitement when Stephenie Meyer said she was re-writing her book from Edward’s perspective, and it’s quite possible that the same sort of thing would work well for The Hunger Games.

After all, we don’t actually know what happened to Gale while Katniss was in the arena itself. The film showed people in the districts watching the screens and there was a beautiful shot of him sitting alone in the woods, but what else was happening back home? And how was The Capitol treating them once the games started to turn?

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Arguably, it makes more sense – if Gale’s story were to be explored – to look at what happened to him during The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, since that’s when his role became even more vital. How did he manage to get all those people out? What went on in the mines? What happened when he first discovered the existence of District 13?

Johanna/Finnick

Johanna Mason has nobody left she loves. She said so herself. But what was she like when she did? Who were they? What was she like before the Games and in the years that followed?

When we first encountered Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, he was all charm. Yet, after the Games of the Quarter Quell, we saw a whole new side to the Capitol’s poster child. Finnick went on to reveal in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 that people paid for his ‘services’ with their secrets rather than money, and odds are that quite a few have been shared with him over the years. Just what does Finnick know?

There’s also his relationship with Annie Cresta to consider. How did that begin? Could this be a love story to rival Katniss and Peeta’s?

Johanna and Finnick open up a whole new realm of possibilities: either we see more of their districts the way we saw District 12 or we see the Capitol through their eyes. Imagine looking closely at the opulence of the Capitol through the combined vitriol and fear of this electric pair! Whatever approach you take, Sam Claflin and Jena Malone are sure to keep things interesting.

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I can just see their faces as they watch the Reaping and see Katniss volunteer for her sister. They’d probably have pretty strong reactions! I also wonder what sort of judges they made for their districts’ contenders.

The start of the Games

It’s an extreme origins story, granted, but there’s always the possibility of going back 75 years to when the Games were first introduced, to really see the horror that began it all. Arguably, this would make the most logical sense. It gives distance from the existing characters, and would allow a rawer look at the games themselves, before they became more refined over time. We might see a more reasonable government too, before the excesses of power had fully corrupted it.

A Hunger Games story without Katniss Everdeen and co would certainly be a risky move, but there’s no guarantee Lionsgate could get the original cast back anyway. Furthermore, there’s a potentially interesting story to be told in exploring the dark days. Plus, there’s bound to be a relative of Katniss, Peeta or Gale around somewhere to act as our guide.

It’s as close as Lionsgate would get to a reboot of the Hunger Games movies, too.

Then what…?

Suzanne Collins was good enough to write an epilogue at the end of Mockingjay so we sort of know what comes next in the world Panem. Though, without ruining the end for people who haven’t read the books, I couldn’t possibly say what it was about. 

However, if director Francis Lawrence and his team want to continue the Hunger Games world, they could always just keep going… in a purely chronological way. After all, what happens next? That in itself is a story that might just be worth exploring. Again, this may depend on signing certain acting talent back to their roles, and they’re unlikely to be as, er, ‘economical’ as they were when the first The Hunger Games film was being cast.

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