It's been nearly 15 years since The Hunger Games first hit bookshelves and seven years since The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 concluded the cinematic adaptation of Suzanne Collins' hit YA novels set in a world where kids are forced to kill each other for sport on live TV. Now, it's time to return to Panem.
The original Hunger Games book and movie took place during the 74th year of the Games, as Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen took on the Capitol and its tyrannical president, Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland). The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will tell the story of the 10th annual Hunger Games.
Based on Collins' 2020 prequel novel of the same name, the newest installment in the franchise takes place decades before the events of The Hunger Games series and serves as an origin story for Snow. With the film currently in production, here is everything there is to know about The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes so far.
What is 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' about?
When audiences met Coriolanus Snow in The Hunger Games, he was President of Panem, the dystopian nation in which two children — one boy and one girl — are drafted from each District to compete in the annual Hunger Games. The original series centered on Katniss, a girl from the impoverished District 12 who volunteers to fight to the death. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows a young Snow and a different District 12 tribute.
Here is the official synopsis:
Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem's attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy Gray’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.
When does the movie come out?
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is slated to hit theaters on Nov. 17, 2023.
Who is starring in 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'?
Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow: Best known for his work on The Gilded Age and Billy the Kid, Blyth will star as Snow decades before he took power in Panem. In this, Snow is living with his grandmother and cousin, Tigris, in near ruin and hoping he will be able to capitalize on a mentor position in the forthcoming Games to reclaim his good name.
Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird: The District 12 tribute is a songstress who grew up with a traveling band of musicians called the Covey. Charming and clever, she unwittingly helps turn the Games into a television spectacle when she sings during the reaping ceremony. Considering Zegler broke out playing Maria in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story, the singing shouldn't be an issue.
Viola Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul: The Oscar winner has been cast as the villainous Head Gamemaker. Upon Davis' casting, it was teased that, "Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable. Snow’s savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experiences with her as the Games’ most commanding figure."
Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow: Having broken out on HBO's Euphoria, the actress assumes the role of Snow's trusted cousin and confidante, Tigris. Fans of the original movies will remember a brief appearance by Tigris, in all her striped glory, in Mockingjay - Part 2, when she provided Katniss' squad shelter in the Capitol.
Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom: From Game of Thrones to The Hunger Games, Dinklage plays the dean of the Capitol's university, known simply as the Academy, and the original architect of the Hunger Games. He will be "the austere and vindictive face of the Games" who "sets the rules that will determine every aspect of Coriolanus' fate."
Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius "Lucky" Flickerman: Before there was Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci in the original films), there was Lucky Flickerman, who serves as host and emcee for the 10th Hunger Games.
Josh Andrés Rivera as Sejanus Plinth: Zegler’s West Side Story co-star plays a friend and classmate of Snow's who is also recruited as a mentor for the Games. Born in District 2 and new to the Capitol lifestyle, Sejanus disapproves of the cruel experiment and serves as a moral compass, of sorts, in the Games.
Who's behind the scenes?
Francis Lawrence (who directed Catching Fire and both installments of Mockingjay) returns to the franchise to helm The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, working from a screenplay by Michael Lesslie, Oscar winner Michael Arndt (who previously adapted Catching Fire) and Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins.
Nine-time Oscar nominee James Newton Howard, who scored all of The Hunger Games movies, will also be back as composer for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Longtime franchise shepherd Nina Jacobson is producing with Brad Simpson, with Collins and Lawrence serving as executive producers.
Is there a trailer?
Lionsgate released a sizzle reel-esque "reveal" to hype the prequel, heavy on imagery but absent of any footage from the film. A.frame will keep you updated when an official trailer is released.