The Hunger Games was a huge smash at the box office earlier this year, taking nearly $700 million worldwide and scoring largely favourable reviews along the way. With that in mind then, it should come as no surprise that Lionsgate have taken the decision to split the final film in the series into two parts.
It had long been rumoured that Mockingjay , the final book in the trilogy, would be bisected for the benefit of the box office, but this the first time the studio have officially confirmed the move.
One of the lengthier stories in the series, there's enough material in there to justify the split, although it doesn't require too much cynicism to deduce that artistic concerns aren't at the forefront of Lionsgate's thinking.
The first part will open on 21 November 2014 with the second arriving almost exactly a year later on 20 November 2015. Both of those will be preceded by Catching Fire on 22 November 2013, meaning we'll be getting an autumn dose of The Hunger Games for the next three years to come.
Catching Fire is currently moving towards the stage where it's ready to begin filming, with Jena Malone and Philip Seymour Hoffman recently added to the cast as Johanna Mason and Plutarch Heavensbee respectively. Finnick Odair remains the last significant role to be cast, and the studio will hope to have that wrapped up as soon as possible.
Francis Lawrence is in place to direct Catching Fire , although at this stage there is no guarantee that he'll be staying on to helm the final two films. Much will depend on his ability to deliver the goods within a horribly rigid timeframe, which shows no signs of slackening for the concluding parts of the series. Rather him than us...