November marked the release of Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. Set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen became known as The Girl on Fire, this film is the newest in the blockbuster series which has collectively grossed over $3 billion worldwide, earning over $200 million so far alone. With the source novel released in 2020, and the last film in the franchise premiering eight years ago, what’s luring audiences back to Panem? We analyzed the defining traits of each film to find out just what they had in common, and the odds were ever in our favor.
As a whole, the series focuses on tales of the down-trodden, those in the districts forced into the Games against their will, and their fight for survival. With the exception of Mockingjay — Part 2, 80% are also stories of captivity. While the first two films have heavy amounts of hand-to-hand combat, only Part 2 exhibits gun fighting to a large degree as well. This makes sense, as having guns in the Games would make them quite brief. Nearly every film told tales of broken trust and/or betrayal, in addition to incorporating themes of economic inequity, notably in the first and second films as well as Songbirds & Snakes.
While nearly all titles tell stories of politics and revolution, the latter three also revolve around the media, whether used as a tool or a weapon. In addition, the middle three films involve characters enduring psychological distress, either due to the trauma of the Games or even torture. 80% had our heroes experience major plot twists, but all films save for Mockingjay — Part One had the underdog triumphing against bleak odds. While most have powerful scores, only 40% implement an impactful, song-based soundtrack, namely Mockingjay — Part One and Songbirds & Snakes.
Overall, the franchise consists of tense, energetic adventures within a sci-fi dystopia, driven by their context and characters. Given the source material, these are Young Adult features, with the final two also being classified as war sci-fis and romances. All have themes of totalitarianism, classism, and economic disparity which evoke serious and thought-provoking experiences that resonate with audiences of all ages. Should Lionsgate decide to tell more stories of Panem or focus on the other districts, any future films that incorporate these traits would likely match or even outshine their predecessors.