Here’s What Will Happen In The New The Hunger Games Book & Film

By Olivia Emily

2 weeks ago

Suzanne Collins' Sunrise on the Reaping will be published in March 2025, with a film to follow in November 2026


Yesterday was a big day for fans of The Hunger Games: not only did author Suzanne Collins announce another prequel novel was in the works, but Lionsgate revealed the prequel would be adapted into a film, too. The Hunger Games: Sunrise on the Reaping is set 24 years before we first meet Katniss in The Hunger Games, and 40 years after The Ballad of Song Birds and Snakes. Die hard fans will instantly know what that means, but if you’re not too sure, here’s what we’re expecting to happen in Sunrise on the Reaping. Spoilers ahead…

A placeholder book cover for Sunrise on the Reaping

© Scholastic

What Is Sunrise On The Reaping About?

Sunrise on the Reaping will stage the 50th annual Hunger Games, which is the second Quarter Quell. A key participant in those Games is Haymitch Abernathy, Katniss’ mentor in the 74th Hunger Games and, later, the 75th Hunger Games in Catching Fire (which is the third Quarter Quell). This means we will see a young Haymitch fight in and ultimately win the Hunger Games, a traumatic experience which leads to the alcoholism we see in his future. We know much of the plot thanks to Catching Fire, an entire chapter of which is dedicated to recounting the 50th Hunger Games as Katniss and Peeta watch an edited recap. This didn’t make the final cut of the movie.

Sunrise on the Reaping will begin on the morning of the reaping, where we meet a 16-year-old Haymitch. At this time, the only previous winner of the Hunger Games from District 12 was Lucy Gray Baird, who we follow in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Haymitch’s name will be drawn to participate in the Second Quarter Quell – that is, the 50th annual Hunger Games – as a tribute for District 12. It being a Quarter Quell, there is a twist: twice the number of participants will enter the arena – 48 instead of 24 – to serve as a reminder that two rebels died for each Capitol citizen in the uprising. (Skip ahead: What is a Quarter Quell?)

This means 47 children are condemned to death as opposed to the usual 23, and three more tributes from District 12 are sent to the Capitol alongside Haymitch. One of them is Maysilee Donner who was best friends with a young version of Katniss’ mother (who is never actually named in the series). Ever sardonic, in his pre-Games TV interview with Caesar Flickerman, when asked how he felt about competing against one hundred percent more competitors than usual, Haymitch coolly replied: ‘I don’t see that it makes much difference. They’ll still be one hundred percent as stupid as usual, so I figure my odds will be roughly the same.’ (Catching Fire)

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. © Lionsgate/Murray Close

When they land in the arena, the 48 tributes are met with ‘the most breathtaking place imaginable’: the Cornucopia sat in the middle of a huge, sweet smelling meadow beneath a blue sky dotted with billowing white clouds. In the far distance, there are woods on one side of the meadow, and a snow capped mountain on the other. The tributes quickly discover, of course, that all is not as idyllic as it seems. In fact, everything around them is poisonous save for rainwater and provisions from the Cornucopia – including all plants, stream water, butterfly stings, and the scent of the flowers if inhaled too directly. Most of the tributes were distracted by all of this beauty at first, meaning a whopping 18 were picked off in the initial ‘bloodbath’. Haymitch manages to snag a backpack and weapons from the Cornucopia in the hubbub, while Maysilee comes away with a small backpack containing a bowl, some dried beef and a blowgun with 24 darts. The duo, not yet aligned, both head into the woods to evade the other tributes.

With 47 Tributes to deal with, the Capitol sends mutts to help pick them off one by one, as well as ‘natural’ disasters, revealing the pretty snow-capped mountain to actually be a volcano on day four. The eruption kills 12 tributes and makes half of the arena inaccessible, driving the remainder into the woods where Haymitch and Maysilee are hiding. Maysilee manages to upgrade her blowgun darts with poison found around the arena, while Haymitch is obsessed with finding the arena’s edge, trekking for miles everyday. One day, this leads him to a hedge maze which sends him back to the middle of the woods where he runs into three Careers (the nickname for tributes from Districts 1, 2 and 4 who train their whole life for the Games). He manages to kill two with his knife before he is disarmed by the third. Just before the third slits his throat, Maysilee shoots the assailant with a poison dart, killing him. The two become aligned.

Together, the duo rest, harvest rainwater, scavenge food from dead tributes’ packs, and continue on Haymitch’s pilgrimage to the edge of the arena. Eventually, they make it to the edge, which is marked by a cliff edge. When Haymitch refuses to turn back, with only five tributes remaining, Maysilee breaks off their alliance and leaves. Once she is gone, Haymitch kicks a pebble off the cliff and discovers the force field that surrounds the arena when it bounces back to him. Surprised, he tries the same thing with a rock, and is amused when it returns. He laughs, but is cut off by the sound of Maysilee’s scream.

He runs towards the sound, and finds Maysilee being attacked by pink birds which have skewered her neck with their pointed beaks. Haymitch holds her hand as she dies. By day’s end, there are only two tributes remaining: Haymitch and a girl from District 1. The two engage in a bloody battle, fighting to the death. Haymitch cuts out her eye, while she disembowels him with her axe. Haymitch holds his intestines in as he runs to the cliff. She throws an axe at him as he collapses to the ground. She misses. The axe flies overhead, over the edge of the cliff – where it hits the force field and bounces back, lodging in the girl’s head and killing her immediately. Haymitch is the Victor.

Just like Katniss’ stunt with the Nightlock berries (with which she and Peeta threatened a double suicide when the Capitol retracted its promise that two Tributes from the same District could win), Haymitch’s stunt with the forcefield makes the Capitol look foolish. In retaliation, Haymitch’s mother, brother and girlfriend are all killed within two weeks after the Games. Depressed, distraught and alone, Haymitch is forced back into the spotlight every year to mentor doomed tributes, while he turns to alcoholism in an attempt to forget his sorrows.

A cinematic tease poster for The Hunger Games: Sunrise on the Reaping

© Lionsgate

What Else?

On writing Sunrise on the Reaping and returning to Panem, Suzanne Collins says: ‘I was inspired by David Hume’s idea of implicit submission and, in his words, “the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.” The story also lent itself to a deeper dive into the use of propaganda and the power of those who control the narrative. The question “Real or not real?” seems more pressing to me every day.’

‘Suzanne Collins has done it again, bringing us back to the world of Panem in order to ask us important questions about our own world,’ adds Ellie Berger, President at Scholastic Trade. ‘Sunrise on the Reaping is a remarkable book, bringing new complexity, perspective, and revelations to a piece of the Hunger Games story that readers have longed to know more about.’

‘Suzanne Collins is a master storyteller and our creative north star,’ adds Adam Fogelson, chair of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, with regards to the film. ‘We couldn’t be more fortunate than to be guided and trusted by a collaborator whose talent and imagination are so consistently brilliant. We know Hunger Games fans worldwide will be spellbound by where Suzanne has focused this next extraordinary story. The Second Quarter Quell is legendary and looms large over the history of the Games, even into the time of Katniss Everdeen a quarter-century later. Like fans around the globe, we are eagerly anticipating this exciting return to Panem.’

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games

(L-R) Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. © Lionsgate/Murray Close

What Is A Quarter Quell?

Every 25 years, the Hunger Games has a special ‘Quarter Quell’ edition. As is explained in Catching Fire, ‘When the laws of the Games were laid out, they dictated that every twenty-five years the anniversary would be marked by a Quarter Quell. It would call for a glorified version of the Games to make fresh the memory of those killed by the districts’ rebellion.’ As we know, the 75th Games called for previous Victors to fight again, forcing Katniss and Peeta to return to the arena. For the first Quarter Quell, the Districts were forced to hold an election to vote for the participants they would be sending into the arena. And for the third Quarter Quell, the 50th Hunger Games, we will see twice the number of participants in the arena.

It has never been made clear whether this rule was actually written into the Games at the very beginning, or whether it was added to spice up the 25th Games. The Gamemakers claim the former while, as Collins’ books progress, the latter seems more likely. After Katniss and Peeta double-cross the Gamemakers and two people win in the 74th Games, it is very coincidental that the 75th Games, the Third Quarter Quell, stipulates Victors must re-enter the arena. In District 12, of course, Katniss is the only female option, essentially condemning her to death. It is very serendipitous that a rule written 75 years ago would nip the Gamemakers’ current problems in the bud quite so effectively.

In a deleted scene from Catching Fire (found on the DVD), Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee enters a secret room with two Peacekeepers and opens a locker marked LXXV (75). He draws out an envelope, and burns it, destroying whatever twist was contained inside – hinting that the twists were written at the very start of the Games, but the Gamemakers need not pay them heed, since they were top secret. The vast number of lockers – around 80 – in the room implies that the Capitol planned for thousands of Games to come.

Can You Pre-Order The New Hunger Games Book?

Yes, The Hunger Games: Sunrise on the Reaping is available for pre-order at a range of book shops, and directly through the publisher, Scholastic at shop.scholastic.co.uk

Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Finnick Odair won the 56th Hunger Games aged 14; he was reaped again and participated in the 75th Hunger Games, the Third Quarter Quell. (Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. © Lionsgate/Murray Close)

Sunrise On The Reaping Book Release Date

The Hunger Games: Sunrise on the Reaping by Suzanne Collins will be published on 18 March 2025. The novel will be published simultaneously in print, digital and audio formats by Scholastic in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Film Release Date

The film adaptation of Sunrise on the Reaping will land in cinemas on 20 November 2026.

Who Will Star In The Sunrise on the Reaping Film?

No news just yet on casting for Sunrise on the Reaping. In the original four films, Haymitch Abernathy is played by Woody Harrelson, so we expect the chosen actor to bear a resemblance to him with blonde hair and blue eyes. Fancasts include Austin Butler and Mike Faist, but we have a feeling it will be a newcomer – and probably someone younger, since Haymitch is supposed to be 16.

One fancast we can get on board with, however, is Noah LaLonde, the 26-year-old best known for playing Cole Walter in Netflix’s My Life With the Walter Boys – young, blonde and moody-looking, and a relative newcomer to boot.

Noah LaLonde as Cole and Nikki Rodriguez as Jackie in episode 110 of My Life with the Walter Boys

Could Noah LaLonde play a young Haymitch Abernathy? (L-R: Noah LaLonde as Cole and Nikki Rodriguez as Jackie in episode 110 of My Life with the Walter Boys. © Chris Large/2023 Netflix, Inc.)

Previous casts have been star-studded, including Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Rachel Zegler, Tom Blyth, Viola Davis, Jason Schwartzman and Peter Dinklage. It is unlikely that any of these stars will return, except for Stanley Tucci who we hope will return to the role of Caesar Flickerman.

Who Will Direct Sunrise on the Reaping?

It is unconfirmed, but Francis Lawrence is in talks to direct the film. He has previously directed four previous films in the Hunger Games franchise – every film since Catching Fire, including The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Gary Ross directed the series’ first film, The Hunger Games (2012).

‘From the beginning, Lionsgate has been a wonderful home and partner for the Hunger Games franchise, and I’m very excited to be collaborating with Adam [Fogleman, chair of Lionsgate] and the team as we bring this next story to theatres in 2026,’ Collins said.

(L-R) Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in in The Hunger Games

(L-R) Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. © Lionsgate/Murray Close

WATCH

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes are all streaming on Prime Video. amazon.co.uk