In the wake of the disappointing box office returns for The Divergent Series: Allegiant (down 44% from the last movie), opinions abound about what this means for that movie series, for YA dystopian movies, and YA movies in general.
We’re familiar with this media speculation, having seen all the questions about the Mockingjay movies box office decreases (albeit, not nearly as serious profitability-wise since even though they decreased from the MASSIVE Catching Fire box office, Mockingjay 1 and 2 still both made HUGE amounts of money). We wonder though, how it may affect Lionsgate’s thinking about those rumored Hunger Games prequel plans. Will the declines make them more nervous to pursue them because they think the public is tired of the YA dystopian trend? Or will the need to beef up their theatrical slate with known properties make them move forward even faster?
It’s no question that the Hunger Games brand is still strong. Lionsgate is going to want to use it to drive more revenue. But we admit to being very nervous about theatrical prequel movies. How are we going to respond to a story that doesn’t revolve around Katniss? How are they not going to make prequel stories about past Hunger Games hugely depressing? Granted, these stories could focus more on the political/social aspects of Panem and less on the Games themselves, but if Lionsgate’s initial public statements hold true about the kids’ desire for arenas, call us doubtful that a Hunger Games political thriller-style will happen. (But look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Comic book movie that meets political thriller and SO GOOD. It could work).
It is possible that Lionsgate gets spooked by the “people are tired of dystopian YA” talk. Or at least, decides to put in a bit more time and breathing room for the public to miss the world of Panem before moving ahead with plans.
If any prequels or spin-offs happen, Lionsgate is moving into new, risky territory with this still valuable, known property. Perhaps Lionsgate will wait to see how the Harry Potter prequels perform and use that as a template in moving forward. If they do, we should point out that a great asset to the Harry Potter prequels is the involvement of JK Rowling. It sounds, at least for now, that Suzanne Collins is done with the Hunger Games universe. So if Lionsgate does want to do spin-offs in the near-ish future, they’d best be politely knocking on her door with some good, non-exploitative ideas.
That could be a tough one.