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May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor, Young President Snow

Gear up and pray that the odds will ever be in our favor because it looks like we’re heading to Panem one more time. 

Set over at least six decades before the events of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set to follow a young Corionalus Snow before his authoritarian rule over Panem. The film will serve as an adaptation of the 2020 prequel released by author Suzanne Collins. It will delve into the origins of the Hunger Games, expand on Panem’s lore, and touch on the histories and backgrounds of several characters we may remember from the original franchise. Here’s everything we know so far.

What is the plot of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place during the tenth annual Hunger Games and focuses on a then 18-year-old Corionalus Snow, who is chosen to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, District 12’s tribute. An ambitious orphan, Snow finds potential in Baird, which he uses to both their advantage, eventually leading to his rise as Panem’s infamous leader. 

The film’s official synopsis reads as follows: “Years before he would become the president of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy 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.”

Who’s in the cast of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

Considering the significant gap between Songbirds and Snakes and the original trilogy, we can probably expect that Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth won’t make any cameo appearances, but hey, we can dream. West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler is set to star as Lucy Gray Baird alongside Tom Blyth of The Gilded Age as Snow (who was excellently played by Donald Sutherland in the original films). Joining them are Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer as Tigris, who was also in the first trilogy and played by Eugenie Bondurant. Jason Schwartzman has been confirmed to be playing host Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman, an ancestor of Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman from the original franchise. 

Of the film’s significantly large ensemble cast, Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage’s characters prove to be the most mysterious. Davis is set to play Volumnia Gaul, the tenth annual Hunger Games’ villainous head game maker. Producer Nina Jacobson shared with Indie Wire that they always had the Woman King actress in mind for the role.

“From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role,” she said. “A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping a young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become. We are incredibly fortunate to have an actor with Viola’s extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role.”

As for Game of Thrones’ Dinklage, he will be playing Casca Highbottom, the dean of the Academy and founder of the violent Hunger Games. He is described to be one of the most powerful people in Snow’s life and among the driving forces that ultimately led Snow to make the decisions he made. 

True to The Hunger Games’ fashion, there will also of course, be several new tributes and volunteers. Jerome Lance will play Marcus, Lucy’s co-tribute from District 12. Ashley Liao stars as Clemensia Dovecote, who is noted for being one of Snow’s closest confidantes and for being a mentor to a tribute from District 11, together with Aamer Husain stars as Felix Ravinstill. Other mentors include Max Raphael as Festus Creed, Athena Strates as Persephone Price, Zoe Renee as Lysistrata Vickers, Ayomide Adegun as Pliny “Pup” Harrington, Kaitlyn Akinpelumi as Domita Whimsiwick, and Amélie Hoeferle as Vipsania Sickle. 

As for Lucy’s competition, her fellow tributes from the other districts will be played by actors Sofia Sanchez, Irene Boehm, Cooper Dillon, Luna Kuse, Kjell Brutscheidt, and Dimitri Abold. Other names who have been attached to the film’s cast include Fionnula Flanagan, Scott Folan, Honor Gillies, Burn Gorman, Michael Greco, Daniela Grubert, Isobel Jesper Jones, Eike Onyambu, Carl Spencer, Konstantin Taffet, and Flora Li Thiemann.

Who is producing the new Hunger Games film?

Francis Lawrence will be helming the film as both its director and producer. He is best noted for his work on the original franchises’ last three installments: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts I and II. Returning with him are Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson. Suzanne Collins herself has also been confirmed to be co-executive producing the film together with Tim Palen and Jim Miller. 

From what we know so far, it appears that we can most likely expect that Lucy will be a very different protagonist from The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen. Speaking to Vanity Fair, director Lawrence had this to say about Lucy: “This is not with judgment, but Lucy Gray is the anti-Katniss. She’s a musician, she’s a performer, she’s a charmer … Snow has never met a girl like this before.”

In the same interview, both she and Lawrence tease about the callbacks fans may expect from the first films, which interestingly includes lore we’ve always been curious about: “You will obviously get a lot of the background of Snow, the history of the Games, the history of some of the music, where songs like ‘The Hanging Tree’ actually come from.”

Is there a teaser for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes was first announced during Lionsgtae’s Cinemacon presentation in Las Vegas. A brief teaser trailer subsequently followed that simply showcased a snow-covered songbird and, of course, a snake on a branch. A slow-down version of Rue’s whistle (CHILLS) from the original franchise can be faintly heard as the following words come up on the screen: “You’re invited to return to the Games in 2023. The world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake.”

When is the release date for The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes?

The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes is set to hit theaters this coming November 17, 2023. 

(via EW, featured image: Lionsgate)

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Danielle is a twenty-something writer and postgrad student based in the Philippines. She loves books, movies, her cat, and traveling. In her spare time, she enjoys shooting 35mm film and going to concerts.