How Hunger Games Writer Suzanne Collins Really Feels About The Movies

 Caesar Flickerman and Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.
Caesar Flickerman and Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

Ah, the book vs. movie discourse. It will always exist when it comes to upcoming book adaptations made by Hollywood. One movie franchise set to be revisited this Thanksgiving holiday is Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. While we wait to see how the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, stacks up among our Hunger Games movies ranking, let’s look back on what the best-selling author has shared regarding her feelings about the original four movies.

Ahead of the first Hunger Games movie hitting theaters back in 2012, Collins penned a letter to her fans (via Entertainment Weekly) where she said that she was “really happy” with how it turned out, along with noting that she found the book and film to be “complimentary pieces that enhance one another,” as well as applauded the cast led by Jennifer Lawrence. The author then delved into her feelings further following the end of the franchise in 2015. Let’s get into some of her thoughts.

How Suzanne Collins Was Involved With The Hunger Games Movies

When Collins spoke to The New York Times in 2018, she reflected on her involvement in the Hunger Games movies. Here’s what she said:

I wrote the initial treatments and first draft and then Billy Ray came on for several drafts and then our director, Gary Ross, developed it into his shooting script and we ultimately did a couple of passes together. I did the boil down of the book, which is a lot of cutting things while trying to retain the dramatic structure. I think the hardest thing for me, because I’m not a terribly visual person, was finding the way to translate many words into few images. Billy and Gary, both far more experienced screenwriters and gifted directors as well, really excelled at that. Throughout the franchise I had terrific screenwriters, and Francis Lawrence, who directed the last three films, is an incredible visual storyteller. The most rewarding moment on the movie was the first time I saw it put together, still in rough form, and thinking it worked.

Collins sounds like she had a really positive experience on the four initial Hunger Games movies, citing her involvement in the first movie as a screenplay writer alongside Billy Ray and Gary Ross. She stepped back from writing the sequels, but remained as an executive producer throughout the franchise, including being involved in that capacity in the upcoming prequel.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss doing three finger salute in The Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss doing three finger salute in The Hunger Games

Collins See Katniss Differently In Her Head, But That Actress ‘Doesn't Exist’

Then comes the question about what she thought about Jennifer Lawrence as her lead. Here’s what Collins had to say:

I definitely do picture the characters when I’m writing them. The actress who looks exactly like my book Katniss doesn’t exist. Jennifer looked close enough and felt very right, which is more important. She gives an amazing performance. When I think of the books, I still think of my initial image of Katniss. When I think of the movies, I think of Jen. Those images aren’t at war any more than the books are with the films. Because they’re faithful adaptations, the story becomes the primary thing. Some people will never read a book, but they might see the same story in a movie. When it works well, the two entities support and enrich each other.

Collins seems rather pleased with the movies! However, most fans feel like the quality of the films downgraded as the series wore on. Director Francis Lawrence has also shared regret in splitting Mockingjay into two movies. Lawrence returned as a director on the upcoming prequel.

Many members of the Hunger Games cast have continued to do huge things after being part of the dystopian franchise, chiefly with J-Law’s 2013 Oscar win on the heels of the success of the films. We’ll have to wait and see if Collins reacts to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes alongside fans when it hits theaters this November 17.