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The Hunger Games movies: How (and where) to root for District 12 in chronological or release order

Ahead of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, allow Popverse to pilot you through perilous Panem

Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Image credit: Lionsgate

May the movies be ever in your favor.

With The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes now in theaters — buy tickets on Fandango or Atom Tickets — it’s the perfect time to revisit Panem to watch a corrupt society fall, if only to remind yourself that it’s not as bad as it might seem in the first prequel to the hit fantasy series.

First introduced in Suzanne Collins's 2008 novel The Hunger Games, Panem is a country of the not-so-distant future, where a ruthless tyrant forces young citizens to compete in the titular gladitorial games. Tales of Panem and its denizens ruled box offices from the early to mid 2010s, and now, they're back in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes… But if you've never taken the pilgrimage to Panem, that fact might not mean much to you. In fact, cursory knowledge of the Hunger Games franchise can make the upcoming movie seem confusing; didn't the story wrap in 2015, after all?

As someone fairly unfamiliar with the series myself, I understood the questions a newcomer might have entering the world of the Hunger Games. That's why I put together this watch order, to educate beginners like me and to make a Hunger Games marathon a smooth, enjoyable experience.

Let's begin with the simplest way to view the films:

How to watch The Hunger Games in release order

Image credit: Lionsgate

In 2012, Lionsgate released the very first Hunger Games movie, introducing cinemagoers to Suzanne Collins's dystopian death match. Leading to oft-memed catchphrases ("May the odds be ever in your favor," "I volunteer as tribute," etc.) and spiking interest in archery across the world, the franchise still has loyal fans a decade on. If you want a similar experience to theirs, watch the films in this order:

By the time you've crossed the fourth film off this list, you may be wondering just where the story goes next. I'm not going to spoil anything here, except to say that Katniss Everdeen's story that begins in the first movie wraps quite completely by the end of Mockingjay – Part 2. So where does the fifth entry into the franchise fit in to her tale? Well, it doesn't exactly.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes shifts main characters and rewinds the clocks. It's a prequel to the Katniss Everdeen saga, exploring the youth and rise of central villain Coriolanus Snow. And if the wviewing experience you want starts with him rather than Katniss, there's only one way to marathon The Hunger Games.

How to watch The Hunger Games in chronological order

Image credit: Lionsgate

If what you're looking for is a narrative from earliest events to latest, you're in luck. Unlike so many other franchises, there's only one prequel to The Hunger Games (as of this writing, at least). That means that a chronological watch order is a simple matter of moving the last film into first place, like so:

  • The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (2023)
  • The Hunger Games (2012)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

Whether you choose to begin your watch order with The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes or end it that way, you're going to have to spend part of your marathon in theaters when the film comes out this fall. But where do you spend the rest of it? Don't worry, we've got the answer right here.

Where to watch The Hunger Games

Image credit: Lionsgate

Another great thing about The Hunger Games franchise is that you don't have to hop around too much to marathon the movies. The first four films are all available to Amazon Prime subscribers. But say you don't subscribe to Prime (or know anybody willing to share a password), is it impossible to watch The Hunger Games?

Not at all. If you don't mind a couple ads, you can currently watch the Hunger Games for free on YouTube Movies and TV. Yeah, you read that correctly: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 are all completely free to watch, right now, on YouTube.

Not a bad way to get into a fandom, eh?

However and wherever you choose to watch the films, you'll probably have one question on your mind as they draw to a close. That being:

Will there be more Hunger Games movies?

Image credit: Lionsgate

There are over six decades between the events of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes and the first Hunger Games film, and if the upcoming prequel is as popular as the original movies, it would make sense that some of those years get filled in. Sad to say, however, there are no official plans in place to produce more films.

Speaking to Collider, Songbirds and Snakes director Francis Lawrence said this of the movie:

"Right now, it's a single, stand-alone movie that takes place 65 years before the first movie in the original series. It's focused on Coriolanus Snow, the Donald Sutherland character, as a young man. I mean, honestly, unless Suzanne [Collins] writes another one, it's a stand-alone. We did it as one. We didn't split it. It's one long movie."

Of course, it's not impossible that Suzanne Collins will have more to say about the youth of Coriolanus Snow. While the new movie has underperformed in terms of opening box office, it's certainly possible that Lionsgate will find reason to court new fans and incentivize the old ones to take yet another trip to Panem.

In that regard, the odds really are in our favor.

Hunger Games cosplays to celebrate the film's 10th anniversary.

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About the Author
Grant DeArmitt avatar

Grant DeArmitt

Contributing writer

Grant DeArmitt (he/him) likes horror, comics, and the unholy pairing of the two. He has written for Nightmare on Film Street and Newsarama, despite their better judgement. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, Kelsey, and corgi, Legs.