It’s been quite some time since we’ve been in Panem, having wrapped up The Hunger Games franchise more than a decade ago now. The story of Katniss Everdeen and her fight against President Snow and the Capitol was one of the more engaging narratives on the printed page or the big screen that we’ve seen (and read) in some time. It played across a few different lines, had some star turns for the major players, and was a major box office smash for the four films. Now, we are going to return to the world in a The Hunger Games prequel story, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which will detail some of the time before we met Katniss and how one of the major players in this world began rising to power.
Let’s take a look at everything we know about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a Hunger Games prequel that is set for the big screen in the next couple of years. There’s a lot that’s already come out about this movie with some big names attached early on.
WHEN DOES THE HUNGER GAME PREQUEL TAKE PLACE?
While the Suzanna Collins book doesn’t outline the exact year this story takes place, we know that it happens during the 10th version of The Hunger Games in Panem. Considering that in the first book in the series, Katniss is taking part in the 74th Hunger games, setting the story about 64 years prior to the events of that story makes sense. It’s worth noting that in this timeline for the story, the world of Panem is a very different place and the Hunger Games haven’t quite become what they are when we enter the first book in the series. Nevertheless, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes begins to set the groundwork for what this world will become as well as why the tournament became the spectacle it does later on.
WHAT IS THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES ABOUT
The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes is effectively about Coriolanus Snow’s early life and what set the path for him to rise to power in Panem. You will know him more for what he becomes later, President Snow or Katniss Everdeen’s primary antagonist throughout The Hunger Games trilogy of books. In this story, we meet Coriolanus at a younger age before he is off to attend University in the Capitol.
He starts as rather idealistic in his views, though he’s had a hard life because his once-rich family is no more and he’s essentially an orphan without much in the way of means. He’s asked to be a mentor for the 10th Hunger Games and he works with a tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Beard. During the course of the Games, without giving too much away, Snow puts forth many of the strategies and themes we will see later in the Games when he is in power. At this point though, if you can believe it, the Hunger Games are an even more brutal affair than what they will become later. Snow though begins to put into action the cunning and subterfuge that will become hallmarks later on.
And also, at its core, The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes is a love story between Coriolanus and Lucy, showing that President Snow was human and had, you know, thoughts and feelings, before becoming disillusioned with power and sending Panem on a deadly course later on. The book details how exactly he began to devolve and what were some of the events that ultimately led him on a path of revenge power by any means necessary. Ultimately, The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes is able to fill in some gaps from The Hunger Games considering that story essentially dropped us right into the world that was already well-established.
WHO IS IN THE HUNGER GAMES PREQUEL?
The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes has already made a number of casting decisions, at least around some of the major players in the movie giving us at least a visual sense of what we will be seeing here. For starters, Tom Blyth (Billy the Kid) will star as Coriolanus Snow, the younger version of who Donald Sutherland played in the movie franchise. The fresh-faced Blyth will, of course, bring a very different vibe to the character at least early on seeing as how he’s far from becoming the blood-drinking vampire type we meet later on.
And Lucy Gray Bear will be played by Rachel Zegler whose star is on the considerable rise right now. She’s fresh off a star turn in West Side Story and she’s also set to star in the live-action adaptation of Snow White coming out next year.
Other additions to the cast include Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow, Coriolanus’s cousin who he lives with at the beginning of the story. Josh Andres Rivera plays Sejanus Plinth who will have a major role in the movie and is critical in understanding how and why Coriolanus ends up breaking bad. Laurel Marsden, Mackenzie Lansing, Ashley Liao, and Aamer Husain are also part of the cast.
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THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES DIRECTOR
Some more good news for The Hunger Games fans with this prequel is someone well-versed in the franchise is at the helm of this movie. Francis Lawrence is on to direct and he’s had considerable work already with this story. Lawrence was the director for Catching Fire, the second movie in the franchise as well as the third and fourth offerings, Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2. While the final two movies fell a bit flat with critics, that might have been more because of the source material than anything else. The story got a bit convoluted near the end. But Catching Fire was the highest performer from a critical side, scoring 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Lawrence also has a number of other solid credits including I Am Legend, Water for Elephants, Constantine, and Red Sparrow. There’s a reason to believe that this new movie will land.
RELEASE DATE FOR THE HUNGER GAMES: BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES?
We don’t have any real first looks at the movie yet though Lionsgate did release a teaser trailer for Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Check it out:
As of right now, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set to hit theaters on November 17, 2023. So there is some time until we are able to finally put eyes on this movie. Until then, there should be more news and first looks over the next year or so.