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(Pocket-lint) - It’s almost been a decade since The Hunger Games released - the films, anyway. 

The Hunger Games is a franchise that consists of four Blockbuster movies, but it’s based on three equally popular novels by Suzanne Collins. It’s set in a dystopian future in Panem - a North American nation made up of 12 districts, with one Capitol ruling over all of them. As punishment for rebelling 74 years earlier, each district must select a boy and a girl between 12 and 18 to compete in the Hunger Games, an annual competition where the last remaining survivor wins. The Hunger Games are treated like a World Cup in the Capitol. But further away, in Panem, people are resentful about the Games.

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This is where we meet the protagonist of the story: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a female tribute from District 12. 

The Hunger Games movies generated $2.9 billion at the box office and catapulted Lawrence’s career. (The same year the first Hunger Games released, she won an Oscar.) But the story of the Games doesn’t end with her in the first films. A new Hunger Games movie is coming. Set to premiere in 2023, it’s based on an eponymous prequel novel from Suzanne Collins called The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. It’ll focus on a young President Snow as he navigates being a mentor to a female tribute from District 12. Francis Lawrence is returning as the director, after helming three of the original movies.

With the new movie coming out next year, it’s the perfect time to revisit Panem.

How to watch The Hunger Games movies in order (chronological and release date order)

The Hunger Games movies released in cinemas in chronological order. It’s the best way to watch them. If you don’t know which came first or want to learn a little bit more about the story and how it progresses across the four Hunger Games films, then keep reading. But please keep in mind there may be spoilers. Skip to the bottom of this guide for a bulleted spoiler-free version.

The Hunger Games (2012) How to watch The Hunger Games movies in order (plus where the new one fits in) photo 3

The Hunger Games (2012)

  • Directed by: Gary Ross
  • Screenplay by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Bill Ray
  • Produced by: Lionsgate
  • Distributed by: Lionsgate
  • Box office: $694 million
  • Run time: 142 minutes
  • Based on: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Amazon)
  • Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

The first film introduces a dystopian continent called Panem, where 12 different districts are ruled over by the Capitol. Every year as a part of a tradition to mark the anniversary of the districts rebelling, each district must send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to compete in a fight to the death known as the Hunger Games. Although the Games are treated like the World Cop in the Capitol, as you get farther away, the people of Panem are more resentful. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a 16-year-old in District 12 – the poorest and furthest from the Capitol.

The district does a lottery to decide which children will be chosen, and when Katniss’ younger sister, Primrose (Willow Shields) is chosen, Katniss volunteers in her sister’s place. Soon, she joins Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the boy chosen from her district, and they are escorted to the Capitol. The Hunger Games was directed by Gary Ross, who wrote the screenplay with Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins.

The Hunger Games Catching Fire (2013) How to watch The Hunger Games movies in order (plus where the new one fits in) photo 2

The Hunger Games Catching Fire (2013)

  • Directed by: Francis Lawrence
  • Screenplay by: Simon Beaufoy, Michael deBruyn
  • Produced by: Lionsgate
  • Distributed by: Lionsgate
  • Box office: $865 million
  • Run time: 146 minutes
  • Based on: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Amazon)
  • Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

Catching Fire picks up with Katniss and Peeta back in District 12 after having outwitted the Capitol. (As part of their winning plan, they feigned falling in love.)

They are visited by President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who reveals to Katniss that her actions have thrown the districts into a state of Rebellion. Snow decides to send Katniss and Peeta on a tour of all the districts in Panem, with the expectation that they will continue their charade and not undermine his power. When Snow is left unconvinced that they are truly in love, it’s revealed that for the first time, for the 75th Hunger Games, the Games’ participants will be selected from previous champions. Katniss – being the only living female winner from District 12 - is ensured a spot in the contest. 

Francis Lawrence is the director of Catching Fire and directed the final two original Hunger Games films as well. He’ll also direct the upcoming prequel movie due out in 2023.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Part One (2014) How to watch The Hunger Games movies in order (plus where the new one fits in) photo 4

The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Part One (2014)

  • Directed by: Francis Lawrence
  • Screenplay by: Danny Strong, Peter Craig
  • Produced by: Lionsgate
  • Distributed by: Lionsgate
  • Box office: $755 million
  • Run time: 123 minutes
  • Based on: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins  (Amazon)
  • Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video

Following her escape from the 75th Hunger Games, Katniss is escorted to District 13. It’s a secret underground headquarters for the Rebellion. There, she meets the Rebellion’s president, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). She asks Katniss to help win the hearts and minds of the other districts, by filming propaganda videos and fighting against the oppression of the Capitol. Peeta, meanwhile, is held captive by the Capitol, being used to try to stop Katniss and suppress the growing revolution that she has started. Eventually, all the districts in Panem will have to choose between the Rebellion and the Capitol. 

The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Part Two (2015) How to watch The Hunger Games movies in order (plus where the new one fits in) photo 5

The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Part Two (2015)

  • Directed by: Francis Lawrence
  • Screenplay by: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
  • Produced by: Color Force
  • Distributed by: Lionsgate
  • Box office: $658 million
  • Run time: 137 minutes
  • Based on: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Amazon)
  • Where to stream: Amazon Prime Video 

In the fourth and currently final Hunger Games movie, the Rebellion attempts to cure Peeta of the Capitol’s brainwashing, which made him try to kill Katniss. Meanwhile, Katniss has helped turn most of the districts to the Rebellion’s side with Alma Coin’s propaganda videos. Katniss is also part of the Star Squad, a group of the most elite soldiers fighting for the Rebellion. They embark on a dangerous mission to the Capitol, with the goal to kill President Snow. The group reluctantly agrees to bring Peeta so he can be included in propaganda videos, although they’re not sure he can be totally trusted yet. 

Where does the new Hunger Games movie fit in this order?

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is an upcoming prequel set 65 years before the events of the original series. When it's available to see in theatres or online, you'd watch it first in a Hunger Games rewatch.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023) How to watch The Hunger Games movies in order (plus where the new one fits in) photo 6

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023)

  • Directed by: Francis Lawrence
  • Screenplay by: Michael Arndt
  • Produced by: Color Force
  • Distributed by: Lionsgate
  • Based on: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Amazon)
  • Where to watch: Releases on 17 November 2023

Like all of the other Hunger Games films, the new movie is based on a novel by Suzanne Collins. It will follow a much younger Coriolanus Snow, who will be played by Tom Blyth. (The character of President Snow is played by Donald Sutherland in the other films set decades later.). Snow’s once-wealthy family is now destitute, but thanks to his success at the Academy, he’s been assigned to mentor a tribute for the 10th Hunger Games. Of course, he’s paired with a tribute from District 12 named Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler). You can check out the reveal trailer for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes here.

Francis Lawrence will return to direct this film after directing Catching Fire and both Mockingjay films. 


Spoiler-free version: The Hunger Games movies in order

Chronological and release date order

OK, so here is the at-a-glance version of the guide above. It's free of spoilers.

  • The Hunger Games (2012)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One (2014)
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part Two (2015)

Not yet available:

  • The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023)

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Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Britta O'Boyle.
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