The Hunger Games franchise returns this year with a brand-new prequel movie, but is Jennifer Lawrence coming back with it?
Originally a trilogy of dystopian novels by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games entered the mainstream thanks to its four-movie adaptation starring X-Men's Mystique actress Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen.
Eight years after the movie adaptation concluded with Mockingjay - Part 2, The Hunger Games returns this November - having wrapped filming several months ago - with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel starring Panem's future tyrannical president Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) years before his reign began.
Is Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games Prequel?
As of now, Jennifer Lawrence has not officially been announced as part of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes cast. The prequel movie takes place 65 years before the first entry in Katniss' story, therefore placing it around 49 years before her character was even born.
One rumor shared by Jennifer Lawrence Updates last April claimed the actress will appear in the prequel, potentially as Katniss Everdeen's grandmother.
Although the book from which The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes never directly confirms any of the characters to be related to Katniss, many have theorized either Lucy Gray Baird or Maude Ivory Baird to be her grandmother.
Even if the movie were to confirm these popular theories, both Lucy Gray and Maude Ivory have already been cast for the prequel, with Rachel Zegler and Vaughan Reilly, respectively, set to play them. This casts doubt on Lawrence's appearance as either of Katniss' theorized grandmothers.
Speaking with The New York Times, the actress appeared to indicate she will not be involved in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as they shared her initial reaction to the prequel being in development. If this reaction was genuinely the first she heard on the project, chances are slim she will be involved:
“That makes me feel old as mold. I remember being 21 and thinking, ’My God, one day they’ll redo and remake them. But I’ll be so old by then! I’ll be dead!’”
The report also specifically noted Lawrence as being "done with all of her franchise commitments," seemingly indicating she will not be returning.
Why Jennifer Lawrence Can't Return in the Hunger Games Prequel
Audiences are quickly learning lately that no franchise, no matter how iconic, is safe from getting relaunched in the modern era of Hollywood. Harry Potter and Twilight are two examples of famous books-turned-movies now set for TV remakes, and The Hunger Games will likely one day see the same treatment.
However, for now, Jennifer Lawrence is safe from losing her place as Hollywood's Katniss Everdeen. Lionsgate fortunately opted to bring back the popular young adult franchise through an adaptation of the 2020 prequel novel as opposed to adapting the books once again for television or another batch of movies.
With The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes taking place long before Katniss was born, the prequel has no place for Lawrence's career-making character. And even in terms of playing her grandmother, the book never confirmed any of the key players to be related to Katniss, and even the top contenders have all been cast with other actresses, seemingly ruling out the possibility.
The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes' new female lead, Rachel Zegler, is roughly the same age Lawrence was at the time of 2012's The Hunger Games. She is similarly coming off a major superhero as Shazam's Anthea, just as Lawrence was as X-Men: First Class' Mystique, perhaps placing her on a similar career trajectory.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes hits theaters on November 17.