Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games' (Photo: Lionsgate Films)
What started as a trend now seems to be standard operating procedure. Today, Lionsgate officially announced that "Mockingjay," the third and final book in "The Hunger Games" series by Suzanne Collins, will be split up into two films.
This, of course, follows in the path of "Harry Potter," which split "The Deathly Hallows" into two parts, and "The Twilight Saga," which will see the second half of "Breaking Dawn" hit theaters on November 16. And Peter Jackson's upcoming adaptation of "The Hobbit," which was originally going to turn that 300-odd page book into two feature films, has since been expanded to three movies.
"Mockingjay" finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the plucky young woman from the downtrodden District 12, leading a revolution against the oppressive Capitol. The title comes from the genetically modified birds in Katniss's future society that can perfectly mimic singing (or whistling). Katniss wears a Mockingjay pin when she first competes in the battle-to-the-death that is the Hunger Games, and it takes on a symbolic meaning to the freedom fighters.
Lionsgate also announced that director Francis Lawrence, who is currently filming the second installment "Catching Fire," will return for both parts of "Mockingjay." Lawrence previously directed "Constantine," "I Am Legend," and "Water for Elephants." The script for "Mockingjay" is being written by Danny Strong, who won two Emmys for the HBO film "Game Change" about the 2008 presidential election (But he's better known to fans of TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as the nerdy Jonathan). Stars of the original "Hunger Games" Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson are all slated to return for the final chapters.
"The Hunger Games" was a monster hit when it opened this past March, bringing in nearly $700 million worldwide. But with "Twilight" coming to a close this month, that franchise's traditional pre-Thanksgiving release slot is opening up. So all the subsequent "Hunger Games" films will hit theaters on successive November dates. "Catching Fire" will open on November 22, 2013, with "Mockingjay" parts one and two coming in 2014 and 2015.
Watch clips from 'The Hunger Games':