By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 25, 2011 at 11:10AM
Bummed that both the "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" franchises are coming to an end? No need to be, as Lionsgate, who know a thing or two about turning a book series into a mega-success, are set to bring "Hunger Games" -- the first installment of a trilogy based on the sci-fi novels by Suzanne Collins -- to the big screen. And soon.
THR reports that the first part will land in theaters on March 23, 2012 -- a weekend in the already crammed schedule that remains open. The project has a script from Billy Ray, and Lionsgate is hoping this series adaptation can do for them what 'Twilight' did for Summit, who have grown infinitely from the financial successes of said vampire series. "Hunger Games" is set in the near future and follows the story of 16-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen who takes the place of her sister, who has been enlisted for a national televised blood sport, in which the 12 newly formed states of North America each supply two teenagers to fight. And this thing has an audience. Book sales are huge, with the latest installment, "Mockingjay," moving huge numbers since it hit stores on August 24th.
Gary Ross ("Pleasantville," "Seabiscuit") will be directing, with the production start in late spring/early summer. The role of Katniss Everdeen is considered a plum part for any young actress in Hollywood and there have already been swirls of chatter about who will land the gig. Some writers for The Playlist are avid fans of the books, insist it's no "Twilight," and claim that there is some real substance to it, so let's hope the things that make it great will translate over to the big screen. But with that in mind, this teens-fighting-to-the-death-story is aiming for a PG-13 rating so things won't get too brutal (then again "The Dark Knight" was PG-13 too, which shows you can push things to the limit).