It's been 15 years since The Hunger Games first hit bookshelves and eight years since The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 concluded the big screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' YA series about a society in which 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 began her battle against the Capitol and its tyrannical president, Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland). The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will tell the story of the 10th annual Hunger Games.

Based on Collins' 2020 prequel novel of the same name, the story takes place 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games series and serves as an origin story for Snow as a villain. (Think of it as The Phantom Menace of the franchise.) Here is everything to know about The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.

What is 'The Ballad of Songbirds & 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. This follows a young Snow and a different District 12 tribute.

Here is the official synopsis:

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'The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes' follows a young Coriolanus who is the last hope for his failing lineage, the once-proud Snow family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With his livelihood threatened, Snow is reluctantly assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, a tribute from the impoverished District 12. But after Lucy Gray's charm captivates the audience of Panem, Snow sees an opportunity to shift their fates. With everything he has worked for hanging in the balance, Snow unites with Lucy Gray to turn the odds in their favor. Battling his instincts for both good and evil, Snow sets out on a race against time to survive and reveal if he will ultimately become a songbird or a snake.

Is there a trailer?

Yes, and you can watch it now:

When does the movie come out?

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is slated to hit theaters on Nov. 17, 2023.

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird and Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow in 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.'

Who stars in 'The Ballad of Songbirds & 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. Here, 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 & Snakes, working from a screenplay by Oscar winner Michael Arndt (who previously adapted Catching Fire), Michael Lesslie, and Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins.

Longtime franchise shepherd Nina Jacobson is producing with Brad Simpson, with Collins and Lawrence serving as executive producers. Meanwhile, nine-time Oscar nominee James Newton Howard, who scored all of The Hunger Games movies, will be back as composer for The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.

This article was originally published on Aug. 16, 2022.


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