'Hunger Games' pics to bow Nov. 21, 2014, and Nov. 20, 2015

Lionsgate has set the release dates for its two “Mockingjay” films, based on the final book in the Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy, with the two pics to go out on Nov. 21, 2014, and Nov. 20, 2015.

Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, co-chairmen of Lionsgate’s motion picture group, made the announcement Tuesday, opting for the same November weekend in which the mini-major has slotted the second “Hunger Games” film — “Catching Fire,” due out Nov. 22, 2013.

“The Hunger Games” opened March 23 and has grossed nearly $680 million worldwide.

Lionsgate execs began indicating last year during calls with Wall Street analysts that the studio would split “Mockingjay” into two films, following the strategy employed for the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” franchises. In the final book Katniss Everdeen is convinced to become “the Mockingjay” as a symbol of the rebellion against the rulers of a post-apocalyptic North America.

The studio said no further details about the films have been confirmed at this stage.

Lionsgate signed Francis Lawrence to direct “Catching Fire” in early May. It is planning to shoot the movie starting in the fall. “The Hunger Games” director Gary Ross ankled the sequel on April 10, citing a “fixed and tight production schedule” as his key reason for exiting.

Philip Seymour Hoffman recently signed on for the role of head gameskeeper for “Fire.” Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones and Woody Harrelson will return in their roles.

“Catching Fire” will be produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force with producer Jon Kilik.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2″ has become the film with the most distant release date. Sony’s “Surfs 3″ is next, with an opening set for July 24, 2015.

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