All the Details on ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’

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May the odds ever be in our favor as the long-awaited “Hunger Games” prequel film headed for theaters.

Based on Suzanne Collins’ novel “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” the origin story behind the world of viral “The Hunger Games” series is revealed. Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Josh Hutcherson shot to fame as the love triangle at the root of the post-apocalyptic life-or-death tournament comprised of teen tributes.

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Director Francis Lawrence returns to the franchise to helm “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” introducing a whole new crop of tributes. Screenwriter Michael Lesslie (“Assassin’s Creed”) pens the script. The origin story of Panem President Coriolanus Snow, played by Donald Sutherland in the original movies, is also unveiled, with “The Gilded Age” breakout star Tom Blyth cast as the young Coriolanus. Rachel Zegler is starring in the lead role. The film is slated to premiere in theaters November 17, 2023.

Find out all the details on “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” below.

What’s the Plot?

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is set during the 10th-annual Hunger Games. An 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) is selected to mentor District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird, played by “West Side Story” and “Snow White” star Rachel Zegler.

Coriolanus is the “last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol,” per an official Lionsgate synopsis. “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’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.”

Meet the Cast

Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler - Credit: AP
Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler - Credit: AP

AP

“Billy the Kid” and “The Gilded Age” actor Tom Blyth will portray the younger version of Donald Sutherland’s iconic ruler Coriolanus Snow. Blyth also recently starred in Terrence Davies’ Siegfried Sassoon biopic “Benediction” as World War I-era theater actor and director Glen Byam Shaw.

After being selected by Steven Spielberg and making her film debut in the Oscar-winning “West Side Story,” Rachel Zegler is set to appear in “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” “Snow White,” and animated feature “Spellbound.” Zegler will star as the mysterious newcomer Lucy Gray Baird, who will fight for her life in the Hunger Games.

Hunter Schafer - Credit: Sipa USA via AP
Hunter Schafer - Credit: Sipa USA via AP

Sipa USA via AP

Zegler’s “West Side Story” co-star Josh Andrés Rivera is set to portray Coriolanus’ friend Sejanus Plinth. “Euphoria” breakout star Hunter Schafer has been cast as Tigris, Coriolanus’ cousin and confidante, who is a Capitol stylist. Eugenie Bondurant played Tigris in the original franchise, with “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” revealing Tigris’ familial connection to Coriolanus.

Viola Davis is rumored to be joining the ensemble but no casting announcement has been confirmed.

These Tributes (and Mentors) Are Out for Blood

Jerome Lance plays Marcus, Lucy’s fellow tribute from District 12. Ashley Liao stars as Clemensia Dovecote, one of Coriolanus’ closest friends and mentor to a tribute from District 11. Aamer Husain stars as Felix Ravinstill, another mentor to a tribute from District 11. Knox Gibson will be Bobbin, a tribute from District 8, while “Mare of Easttown” alum Mackenzie Lansing is Coral, a tribute from District 4.

Release Date

“Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” - Credit: screenshot
“Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” - Credit: screenshot

screenshot

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is scheduled to premiere in theaters from Lionsgate on November 17, 2023.

A teaser trailer for the film showing snow-covered branches, icy snakes, and golden songbirds (a Mockingjay, perhaps?) debuted in June 2022.

“You’re invited to return to the Games in 2023,” the clip teased. “The world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake.”

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