Years after the hugely successful Hunger Games movies comes a prequel based on the books’ main antagonist, Coriolanus Snow. This much-anticipated prequel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, promises to delve into the backstory of the ruthless leader, offering fans a glimpse into the origins of his power and his early life in Panem.
So, welcome back to Panem, Hunger Games fans. Here’s everything we know so far about The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.
The Hunger Games Prequel
The cinematic universe of The Hunger Games has expanded this coming November with the prequel. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is based on the 2020 book of the same name by Suzanne Collins. The prequel novel spent two weeks at the top of USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list. The book came out 10 years after Collins’ successful book series was believed to have ended.
A teaser trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes first dropped on June 5, 2022. The teaser only announced the upcoming film. The full trailer was later released on Lionsgate’s official YouTube channel after it aired in the studio’s CinemaCon presentation. A new promo video for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes was released on August 8, 2023.
The promo video was an invitation for fans to join the Academy. On September 29, another promotional clip for the prequel aired, featuring a “special report” by Capitol News. The clip looked back on why the Hunger Games was created. The second full-length trailer for the prequel dropped on September 20, 2023.
Production on The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes started in July 2022 in London. It was revealed in November 2022 that filming for the prequel officially wrapped.
The Team Behind The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is directed by Francis Lawrence. Lawrence previously directed the last three Hunger Games movies: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2. Michael Lesslie penned the script for the prequel. Lesslie is known for writing Assassin’s Creed and the 2015 adaptation of Macbeth.
Collins will be serving as an executive producer along with Tim Palen.
The official synopsis for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes from Lionsgate was released.
“64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute, and decades before Coriolanus Snow became the tyrannical President of Panem. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes follows a young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) 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 (Rachel Zegler), 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.”
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Cast
For The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Tom Blyth takes the lead as the younger Coriolanus Snow. Donald Sutherland portrayed the character in the main franchise.
Rachel Zegler stars as District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird. Hunter Schafer plays Tigris Snow, the older cousin of Coriolanus Snow. The character first appeared in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. Eugenie Bondurant portrayed the character in the film.
Peter Dinklage plays Dean Casca Highbottom of the Academy. One of the two men who originally created the concept of the titular games. EGOT-winner Viola Davis plays the antagonist, Dr. Volumnia Gail. The character is the head game maker of the 10th annual Hunger Games.
Jason Schwartzman also joins the cast as Lucretius Flickerman, the interview host for the games. Lucretius is the ancestor of Caesar Flickerman, played by Stanley Tucci. Isobel Jesper Jones plays Mayfair Lipp, the daughter of the mayor of District 12.
Josh Andres Rivera plays Sejanus Plinth, another mentor in the Hunger Games who also befriends Coriolanus Snow. Finnula Flanagan plays Grandma’am, the aristocratic grandmother of Coriolanus and Tigris. Nick Benson plays Jessup, another District 12 tribute who has to compete alongside Lucy Gray.
Hiroki Berrecloth plays District 7 tribute Treech while Luna Steeples plays District 11 tribute Dill. Mackenzie Lansing plays District 4 tribute Coral, while Knox Gibson plays District 8 tribute Bobbin. Lily Cooper plays District 10 tribute Arachne Crane, while Aamer Husain plays District 11 mentor Felix Ravinstill.
Ashley Liao plays Clemensia Dovecoat, another mentor for District 11 tributes. Dovecoat is also a close friend of Coriolanus.
What to Expect from the Movie
For comparison, the runtime of The Hunger Games movies was over two hours. It seems like it will be the same for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. The prequel film is actually expected to be the longest film in the franchise, according to Lawrence.
“We were scheduled for 85 days. We got a day ahead so we did it in 84 days, which is shorter than Catching Fire but longer than each of the Mocking Jays. So it was in between because we shot the Mocking Jays together for 155 days, which ended up being 77-ish days apiece. So it was a little longer than each of the Mocking Jays but shorter than Catching Fire. It definitely will be the longest of all the movies,” Lawrence told Collider.
Lawrence also revealed that unlike Mockingjay, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will not be split into two movies. The director said it will be a standalone movie. That is unless Collins writes another book.
“No. Right now, it’s a single, stand-alone movie that takes place 65 years before the first movie in the original series. It’s focused on Coriolanus Snow, the Donald Sutherland character, as a young man. I mean, honestly, unless Suzanne writes another one, it’s a stand-alone. We did it as one. We didn’t split it. It’s one long movie,” said Lawrence.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Release Date
Fans won’t have to wait very long for the prequel. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is expected to premiere on November 17, 2023. It will be exclusively released in theaters. The Hunger Games prequel will also be premiering around the same time as Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins, the animated Trolls Band Together, and Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving.
There’s no date for when The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes goes to streaming though. However, Lionsgate has a deal with Peacock, so the prequel movie will likely arrive on that platform.