22 Movies Like “The Hunger Games,” Including the Divergent Franchise
If there’s one thing we learned from “The Hunger Games,” it’s that a bow and arrow plus some basic survival instincts can go a long way. That, and, you know, evil dystopian societies are the worst. When Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute to take her sister’s place in the Games, no one foresaw what would come next. Becoming the legendary “girl on fire” and dominating one of the most twisted and deadly games ever, Katniss showed everyone that she was a survivor. Whether you discovered Katniss’s journey in Suzanne Collins’s dystopian YA novel series or were first introduced to the world of Panem when the first movie premiered in 2012, “The Hunger Games” has certainly left its mark in the world of dystopian movies.
Years after the franchise ended with its final installment, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” we still haven’t forgotten the Katniss-Peeta-Gale love triangle; Effie Trinket’s over-the-top makeup, hair, and costumes; and Haymitch’s deadpan sarcasm. Luckily, the fandom has been promised another Hunger Games film: this time, a prequel titled “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” which is finally set to hit theaters in November.
In the meantime, though, the odds are ever in your favor, as we’ve found a collection of other movies that are just as thrilling, action-packed, and adventurous as “The Hunger Games.” If you’re into YA adaptations; obsessed with dystopian sci-fi and angsty, rebellious teens; or just can’t get enough of fearless characters like Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss, we’ve got you covered. Ahead, we’ve rounded up some worthy tributes with a stacked list of movies like “The Hunger Games.”
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "The Darkest Minds"
If you thought Lawrence was the only actor who shot to stardom after the box office success of “The Hunger Games,” you thought wrong. Amandla Stenberg also captured viewers’ hearts as Rue. All grown up in “The Darkest Minds,” Stenberg plays Ruby, a powerful teen who has recently discovered she has supernatural abilities. When the government declares all superpowered teens like Ruby a threat, she’s forced into hiding, and decides to team up with other runaways. Soon enough, Ruby and her newfound family decide to fight back against the adults in power instead of just running away.
Without spoiling too much, we’ll warn you that this movie ends on a cliffhanger, and unfortunately, a sequel hasn’t been confirmed. But, don’t worry: this movie is also based on a series of books, and you can find out where the story goes by reading the Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "The Moral Instruments: City of Bones"
For a movie with some supernatural elements and fantastical world building, check out “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.” The film stars Lily Collins – way before “Emily in Paris” – as Clary Fray, a New York City teenager who discovers she’s a Shadowhunter, a half-angel warrior who protects humanity against the forces of evil. While “The Hunger Games” turns the citizens of Panem against each other, in “City of Bones,” Clary has to enter the magical underground world of NYC to face vampires, demons, and other fantastical creatures.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Jupiter Ascending"
Written and directed by the Wachowskis, the filmmakers known for “The Matrix,” “Jupiter Ascending” is a grand space opera about an ordinary woman, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who finds out she’s a galactic royal destined to alter the balance of the cosmos. In a rare sci-fi appearance, Channing Tatum plays Caine Wise, a genetically engineered military hunter sent to Earth to track Jupiter down. With a cast that also includes Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, combined with the striking visuals the Wachowskis are known for, viewers are treated to an epic adventure in a galaxy far away. Plus, Jupiter’s stunning celestial outfits are definitely giving us Effie Trinket vibes.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Divergent"
Looking for yet another strong woman protagonist caught in a dystopian world? If your answer is yes, then you should definitely watch the adaptation of Veronica Roth’s novel “Divergent.” In the movie, Tris (Shailene Woodley) lives in a futuristic society where teens are sorted into five factions for life, kind of like the houses at Hogwarts, but with much higher stakes. Although Tris chooses Dauntless, the brave ones, things get a little dicey when she discovers she’ll never fit into just one group during her initiation test. Plus, for a little familial fun fact, Zoë Kravitz plays Christina, one of Tris’s allies in this movie, and her father, Lenny Kravitz, plays Cinna in “The Hunger Games.”
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Insurgent"
In this sequel to “Divergent,” just as Katniss finds herself on the run and in hiding in “Mockingjay Part 1” after escaping the games in “Catching Fire,” Tris is also on the run, sporting a new pixie cut to go along with some other major changes. Together with her steamy love interest, Four (Theo James), they fight the faction that’s taken control and face seemingly insurmountable challenges. If you thought Peeta and Katniss had chemistry, then Tris and Four’s sexual tension is off the charts. Come for the action, stay for the romance. No YA film adaptation is complete without at least one shirtless scene, right?
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Allegiant"
In the third and final installment of the Divergent trilogy, Tris and Four finally go beyond the wall that’s kept their factioned society in. Sounds ominous doesn’t it? Similar to the way “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” and “Part 2” take us beyond the walls of District 12 and the Game arena for an all-out war against Panem, Tris and her allies occupy new territory as they prepare for one final battle. Over the course of the movie, they must uncover new truths and decide who to trust to survive. It’s no understatement to say their allegiances are tested.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "The Giver"
I don’t know about you, but Lois Lowry’s book “The Giver” was a staple in my middle-school English class. The book, and its film adaptation, is set in a dystopian society where everyone lives in a supposedly perfect community (red flag!) where no one experiences pain, suffering, difference, or choice. Everyone is exactly the same and content, but they’ve sacrificed deeper emotions like love and joy. Their world is even void of color and memory.
When Jonas is chosen to become the next Receiver of Memory, one person who holds all of humanity’s memories, he makes the crucial decision to challenge the status quo and share his newfound knowledge with the community. At its core, the Hunger Games series is about resisting against the powers that be to make the world a better place, and that’s exactly what Jonas seeks to do in “The Giver.”
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "I Am Number Four"
In this movie based on James Frey and Jobie Hughes’s YA science-fiction novel of the same name, John Smith seems like just another regular guy, but he’s actually an alien disguised as a teenage boy in a small Ohio town. While falling in love and discovering new abilities, John also has to evade his enemies, who are hunting him down along with the other aliens who were sent to Earth as kids. Just your normal, everyday stuff! Although his situation is a little different, we can’t help but think of the way the stronger tributes teamed up to hunt down Katniss in “The Hunger Games.” You’ll find yourself rooting for John the same way you rooted for Katniss when she started out as an unlikely victor.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Mortal Engines"
In a post-apocalyptic world where cities consume each other to survive, Hester is the only one who can stop the city of London from devouring everything in its path. It’s essentially like if the Hunger Games tributes were individual cities on wheels hunting and eating each other up! To save the world, as strong women protagonists often do, Hester joins up with Tom Natsworthy, a London outcast, and Anna Fang, a dangerous outlaw. You can add this to a long list of movies where grumpy adults try not to get bested by a ragtag group of angsty teens. And, of course, with a name like “Mortal Engines,” the film also has really cool steampunk-inspired aspects in its world building and costumes.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "The Maze Runner"
It should come as no surprise by now that another hit trilogy, the Maze Runner series, is also a YA dystopian adaptation. Dylan O’Brien first captured our hearts as Stiles Stilinski in “Teen Wolf,” but in “The Maze Runner,” he’s Thomas, a teenager who’s been dropped in the middle of a maze with other teens without any memory of his previous life. Together with his pals Newt, Teresa, Gally, Frypan, and Minho, Thomas tries to escape the ever-changing maze. Oh, and did I mention the maze is also home to deadly creatures? Kind of reminds you of all the “natural” obstacles (those tracker jackers!) the gamemakers throw at Katniss, Peeta, and their competitors in “The Hunger Games.”
Swap the maze out for “The Hunger Games”‘s televised arena, and the comparisons between the two franchises are glaringly obvious. In a game of would-you-rather, we’re having a hard time choosing which dystopian world we’d endure.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials"
Spoiler: having escaped the maze, Thomas and his crew, also known as the Gladers, find themselves in a desolate landscape filled with zombie-like people called Cranks in the sequel, “The Scorch Trials.” Just as “Catching Fire” brought on a whole new bag of obstacles for Katniss and Peeta, Thomas has much bigger problems than getting out of the maze. Now, he’s up against WCKD, the organization that ran experiments on the amnesiac teens in the maze in the first place. We won’t spoil everything, but be on the lookout for some cold-hearted betrayals.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Maze Runner: The Death Cure"
In the action-packed finale to the Maze Runner trilogy, Thomas leads the Gladers on their very last, yet most perilous, mission. Thomas must break into another WCKD-controlled maze, which may be the deadliest of all. When, or if, the Gladers come out on the other side alive, they will finally get the answers to all the questions they’ve been asking since day one. Is there salvation, or a cure, in the dystopian world ravaged by the Flare virus? (As a heads up, it might hit a little too close to home these days, considering the pandemic of it all.) Well, you’ll just have to watch to find out.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"
Back in the day, bookworms divided into two camps. There were the diehard Percy Jackson fans, and the Potterheads. Coming almost a whole decade after the first Harry Potter movie, we finally got the adaptation of Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” In the movie, Percy Jackson discovers he’s actually the son of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, and his satyr protector whisks him away to a camp for the children of Greek gods and goddesses. Though Percy isn’t fighting for his literal life like Katniss Everdeen, he’s still got a lot of pressure on his shoulders for one teenager: he’s been accused of stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt and has to not only figure out who actually stole it, but also return it back to Zeus before a war breaks out between the gods, wreaking havoc on the human world.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Winter's Bone"
Did you know Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for an Oscar before she became a household name in “The Hunger Games”? Early in her career, Lawrence gave an Oscar-worthy performance in the harrowing film “Winter’s Bone” as Ree Dolly, a teenager living in the Ozarks who has to take care of her younger siblings in place of her absent parents. When she learns her father plans to sell the house and disappears, Ree goes on a journey to find him. Ree shares a deep dedication to protecting her younger siblings with Katniss, who infamously volunteered as tribute when her little sister Primrose was selected for the Games. No wonder J Law knocked the role out of the park!
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "How I Live Now"
The 2010s were a pretty major time for dystopian-novel-to-movie adaptations, and this movie based on the novel by Meg Rosoff is no exception. “How I Live Now” tells the story of American teenager Daisy (Saoirse Ronan), who reunites with her British cousins during an apocalyptic nuclear war. Not only did the cast in the film go on to become big names – does Tom Holland ring a bell? – but the romantic chemistry between Saoirse Ronan and her eldest cousin rivals Katniss and Peeta’s. (OK, so it’s her cousin, but it’s also practically the end of the world.)
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "X-Men: Days of Future Past"
If you can’t get enough of Jennifer Lawrence, then we recommend “X-Men: Days of Futures Past.” In this super-power movie, Lawrence plays Mystique, a blue, scaly, shape-shifting mutant. If you haven’t done a deep dive into the X-Men movies yet, don’t worry, they’re not quite as extensive as the Avengers franchise. All you have to know is that Wolverine, Professor X, Mystique, and other mutants have to travel back in time from the future to stop the development of a technology that threatens the mutants’ existence. Even though it seems like your run-of-the-mill superhero story on the surface, the film has a really profound message about prejudice and discriminating against people who don’t fit the norm.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Brave"
“The Hunger Games” doesn’t necessarily have a reputation for being family-friendly, but Disney’s animated family film “Brave” is one for the little ones in your life. Released the same year as “The Hunger Games,” “Brave” takes place in Scotland, where fiery, curly-haired, and courageous Merida is a skilled archer who wants to defy age-old traditions. Determined, and a little stubborn, Merida embarks on a journey to bring her family back together and break a curse after her magical wish goes sideways.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Ender's Game"
Most people these days are familiar with Asa Butterfield as the adorably awkward teen sex educator in Netflix’s series “Sex Education,” but back in 2013, among many other impressive credits as a child actor, he was in sci-fi film “Ender’s Game.” In the movie, Butterfield is recruit Ender Wiggin who, with his unusual gift for military training, is chosen to become the next Mazer and lead their army against an alien invasion. Oh, and Butterfield isn’t the only name you’ll recognize in this movie; the cast is stacked. Expect appearances from Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, and Hailee Steinfeld. Ender and Katniss share the burden of being pretty young for all the leadership that’s required of them in their respective wars.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "The Fifth Wave"
YA adaptation queen Chloë Grace Moretz herself stars in sci-fi film “The Fifth Wave.” In the movie, the human race faces extinction when an alien invasion causes tsunamis, earthquakes, and disease. All Moretz’s character, Cassie, wants is to reunite with her little brother. At the end of the day, isn’t “The Hunger Games” about a sister wanting to protect her sibling with the hope of surviving another day so they can be reunited? In both “The Hunger Games” and “The Fifth Wave,” family is everything.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "Hawkeye"
OK, so technically we’re cheating with this one because “Hawkeye” isn’t exactly a movie, but the new Disney+ series is so good, we couldn’t resist adding it to the list! To be fair, though, it does have a spot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so we think we can get away with counting it as cinema. Anyway, Hailee Steinfeld gives such a fun, dynamic performance as Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton’s new protégée Kate Bishop. Trust us, Kate is just as much a GOAT with the bow and arrow as Katniss Everdeen. In the three films following “The Hunger Games,” we watched as Katniss and Peeta grappled with the trauma of being in the Games and the midst of a full-on war. In “Hawkeye,” as an unlikely dynamic duo, Kate helps Clint confront his dark past during the time he lost his family to “the blip” and the trauma he’s experienced from his time as an OG Avenger.
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "The Congress"
A slight departure from “The Hunger Games”‘s apocalyptic nature, “The Congress,” which stars Robin Wright, introduces a new kind of world where the rules are bent. The 2013 film – in which Wright plays a fictional version of herself – follows an aging actor who takes her final industry gig: preserving her digital likeness for a future Hollywood by way of an animated avatar. In return, Wright is generously compensated so her digital character can stay young forever. But the only catch is she can never act again. Fast forward 20 years later, though, and Wright comes face-to-face with herself and is shocked to find out how her reputation is being used. In today’s Hollywood where AI (artificial intelligence) is taking over, “The Congress” was seemingly ahead of its time, but still exists in the realm of dystopian movies like “The Hunger Games.”
Movies Like "The Hunger Games": "The Purge"
One year after the first Hunger Games movie debuted, another dystopian, blockbuster franchise emerged: “The Purge.” The 2013 film that kicked everything off reimagines America with a dangerous, annual 12-hour period in which all crime – including murder – is legal. As a result, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), Mary (Lena Headey), and their two children must fend off vicious intruders and survive the night without turning into the same monsters they’re running from. The nightmarish societal phenomenon operates almost exactly like the deadly Hunger Games, just without the fancy ceremony and big public spectacle.