If it works for Harry Potter and Twilight, maybe it’ll work for The Hunger Games, too. Hunger Games fans saddened that only three books featuring Katniss Everdeen in the land of Panem limits will their cinematic options, should take heart in the fact that Lionsgate has announced they will make four movies—splitting the final book, Mockingjay, into two parts.
The first movie based on Suzanne Collins’ trilogy burned up the box office to the tune of roughly $400 million domestically this spring. Hunger Games fans should now set their calendars to November, with the second book-to-movie adaption, Catching Fire, coming out on Nov. 22, 2013; The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 on Nov. 21, 2014; and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 on Nov. 20, 2015.
The reasoning behind splitting the final book—a treatment reserved for both Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Twilight: Breaking Dawn—is obvious. Sure, everyone stands to make plenty of cash on the plan, but fans of the franchises usually don’t mind much either as the elongated films allow the on-screen narrative to dive deeper into the books, illustrating more of the text.
Of course, as with any such move, critics will question whether there’s enough in the book to justify two films. And with all the added war scenes in the finale, they may worry that the focus of the movies will turn more to gadgetry and special effects than storytelling.
But before fans can get too far into speculating the contents of the Mockingjay films, they must wait more than a year for Catching Fire, which will start production this fall and feature Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman as head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. Hoffman joins Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Jena Malone, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz for the Francis Lawrence-directed rendition. Lawrence takes over for Gary Ross, who directed the first film. There has been no announcement on a director for movies three or four.