Let the 10th annual Hunger Games begin!
West Side Story star Rachel Zegler and Billy the Kid actor Tom Blyth debut as Lucy Gray Baird and Coriolanus Snow in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the prequel film to the blockbuster franchise.
Vanity Fair was the first to premiere the imagery, which shows the two characters in a romantic picnic pose — not at all what we would expect from the future Snow tyrant played by Donald Sutherland in the Hunger Games main series.
Murray Close/Lionsgate Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth star as Lucy Gray Baird and young Coriolanus Snow in 'The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'
"This is a love story," director Francis Lawrence, who helmed the latter three Hunger Games movies, starting with 2013's Catching Fire, tells VF. "It's this kind of love story set in a different kind of a world in a different time. A very intimate love story."
Based on the book of the same name, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place years before the time of Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen. It's the 10th annual Hunger Games in Panem, and an 18-year-old Coriolanus is assigned to mentor Lucy, the female tribute from District 12 who wins the heart of the country of Panem when she defiantly sings during the reaping ceremony.
"This is not with judgment, but Lucy Gray is the anti-Katniss," Lawrence says. "She's a musician, she's a performer, she's a charmer… Snow has never met a girl like this before."
Oscar winner Viola Davis was recently cast in the role of gamemaker Volumnia Gaul. She joins an ensemble that includes Peter Dinklage as the unintentional creator of the Hunger Games, Casca Highbottom; Zegler's West Side Story costar Josh Andrés Rivera as Snow's friend Sejanus Plinth; Euphoria breakout Hunter Schafer as Tigris; Jason Schwartzman as Caesar Flickerman ancestor Lucretius "Lucky" Flickerman; Jerome Lance as District 2 tribute Marcus; Ashley Liao as mentor Clemensia Dovecote; Knox Gibson as District 8 tribute Bobbin; Mackenzie Lansing as District 4 tribute Coral; Aamer Husain as another mentor; and Felix Ravinstill as District 11's tribute.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is on track to hit theaters on Nov. 17, 2023.
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