Entertainment Movies 'Hunger Games' Prequel Movie Set to Start Production in 2022 Lionsgate expects to release the film, based on Suzanne Collins' The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, in late 2023 or early 2024 By Vanessa Etienne Vanessa Etienne Twitter Vanessa Etienne is an Emerging Content Writer-Reporter for PEOPLE. People Editorial Guidelines Published on August 6, 2021 08:27 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Donald Sutherland as Coriolanus Snow in The Hunger Games. Photo: Color Force/Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock The Hunger Games prequel is officially in the works! The upcoming film, based on author Suzanne Collins' 2020 novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is slated to start production in 2022, Deadline reported Thursday. Lionsgate motion picture group chairman Joe Drake revealed during a quarterly earnings call that executives are eyeing a theatrical release in late 2023 or early 2024, saying pre-production is "moving along really, really well." "There's an audience that wants to come back [to theaters]" Drake said, according to the outlet. "I believe the market's going to come back. …There's going to be a strong, robust platform for us to monetize our movies." The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place in the Hunger Games universe, set roughly 64 years before the first book in the original trilogy. The Ballad follows an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow, who would eventually rise to become the tyrannical president of the dystopian nation of Panem, and the main villain of the Hunger Games series. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic Press The Hunger Games' Suzanne Collins Writes Prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: PEOPLE Review Donald Sutherland portrayed the authoritarian President Snow across the first four movies, which followed the story of a brutal, annual affair where two teenage tributes from each of the 12 districts of the nation Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death in a televised survival challenge. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday. Lionsgate first announced in April 2020 that the Hunger Games prequel would be getting the big screen treatment. Francis Lawrence, who directed three of the first four films in the series — The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and parts 1 and 2 of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — was also said to be returning for the prequel, Entertainment Weekly reported at the time. Hunger Games Series Director Francis Lawrence to Return for Anticipated Prequel Movie Collins will serve as executive producer on The Ballad, and adapt the screenplay with Catching Fire screenwriter Michael Arndt. Franchise producers Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson are also set to return for the latest installment, Deadline reported. No casting news or further release date information has yet been announced The first three books in Collins' bestselling series — The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay — have more than 100 million copies in print worldwide and have been translated into 54 languages. At the movies, the four on-screen adaptations, released 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively, later grossed close to $3 billion worldwide.