The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Everything About the Hunger Games Prequel

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Everything About the Hunger Games Prequel

After waiting seven years, the highly anticipated prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, gives fans a chance to journey back into Panem. The official announcement of the release date by Lionsgate at CinemaCon last April was received by fans with open arms. The Hunger Games film franchise saw massive success ever since the first installment, The Hunger Games, was released in 2012. The last movie, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, was released in 2015, leaving fans of the trilogy yearning for more.

The new prequel film is set to take fans into history, being set many years before the events of the first Hunger Games movie. President Snow will be the main focus of the film. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will be directed by Francis Lawrence, who has worked on previous films in the franchise. Michael Arndt will also be returning to write for the prequel. He has previously written for Catching Fire. In terms of plot, cast, and other details, here’s all we know about the prequel film!

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
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The Hunger Games

The four films in “The Hunger Games” series introduced us to Katniss Everdeen, the young woman stuck in a dystopian nightmare where the country’s 12 districts send their children to fight to the death to keep them subservient to the Capitol. It’s a brutal existence, both living in the districts and fighting for your life. Now we’re heading back to the world of Panem, long before Katniss volunteered as tribute to take her sister Primrose’s place as one of the combatants. 

The world of Panem is cruel to its children (and honestly, it’s adults as well) in Katniss’ time, with most of the districts starving or barely making ends meet. The Capitol holds the populace in a firm grip, and despite the dismantling of the games and the government in the later films, it was replaced by something almost more sinister … until Katniss finds a way to take that down as well. 

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Release Date

Author Suzanne Collins published the novel of the same name at the beginning of the pandemic, back in May of 2020 with a virtual release. Just over three years later, we’re going to see the film version of that book in theaters. The release date for “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is November 17, 2023, making it a Thanksgiving film. 

We got a teaser trailer for the film in early June 2022, which showed us a snow-and frost-covered forest and a frozen bird and snake on a branch. Slowly the ice breaks away, showing them both to be gold and shining underneath. The snake lunges for the bird, which gives us an idea of what we’re going to see.

Plans for the film’s development started before the book was even published, and now most of the casting has been announced. It’s actually surprising to me that they’re not splitting this into two films, with the four films in the original series earning over $3 billion globally.

The Plot

Similar to the first movies of the trilogy being adaptations of novels bearing the same name by Suzanne Collins, the prequel also has its basis in a novel by Collins, published in May 2020. While we can’t expect the film to strictly adhere to the novel, we can most likely expect the film to center more or less on the same core plot of its source text.

The book serves as a prequel to The Hunger Games book series as it follows a young Coriolanus Snow before he became the powerful president in the original trilogy. It occurs during the 10th Hunger Games, during which Snow serves as a mentor to a tribute named Lucy Gray Baird for District 12.

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
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The prequel film is set sixty-four years before the start of The Hunger Games, the first installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. To be more specific, it is set in a period known as the Dark Days, ten years before the district’s First Rebellion. Taking place before the birth of the leading characters in The Hunger Games, including Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, the prequel will focus on the early life of the dictatorial Coriolanus Snow (President Snow), whom viewers of the trilogy are familiar with.

Throughout the story, we get a closer look at how the Hunger Games transformed over the years and how Snow eventually became the villainous politician who torments Katniss Everdeen.

Songbirds and Snakes: The Cast

Tom Blyth will play Coriolanus Snow. Blyth recently played the lead role in the Epix series “Billy the Kid,” and Archie Baldwin in the series “The Gilded Age.” Lucy Gray Baird will be played by Rachel Zegler, the breakout star of “West Side Story”. Zegler has a number of projects including “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” in post-production, the voice of Princess Ellian in “Spellbound,” and the lead role in “Snow White,” both listed as currently filming.

On July, 18, the official Twitter account for the beloved book and film franchise announced that Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage will play Casca Highbottom, dean of the Academy, in the prequel. According to Deadline, “Dean Highbottom is one of the most powerful people in Snow’s life. As the austere and vindictive face of the games, he sets the rules that will determine every aspect of Coriolanus’s fate,” said Lawrence.

On June 21, the official Hunger Games Twitter account also broke the news that Euphoria star Hunter Schafer will be joining the cast.

Joining the cast is Jerome Lance playing Marcus, a tribute from District 2. Ashley Liao will play Clemensia Dovecote, one of Coriolanus’s closest friends who is also mentoring a tribute.

Knox Gibson will play Bobbin, who is a tribute from District 8. Gibson had a lead role in the Netflix short “Forgive Us Our Trespasses,” and is a national athlete for swimming and a disability and inclusion advocate after losing a limb in an accident at 3 years old. Mackenzie Lansing (“The Deuce,” “Mare of Easttown”) will play Coral, a tribute from District 4. Aamer Husain (“Hudson & Rex”) will play the mentor to a tribute from District 11. 

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