Movies & Series

‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’

Trend Indexing: Come this November, audiences shall soon again be chanting the infamous mantra: May the odds be ever in your favor. Michael Lesslie, the British screenwriter known for Assassin’s Creed and the 2015 Macbeth adaptation has been set to write the screenplay for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, based on the best-selling prequel novel by Suzanne Collins. The film will be directed by Francis Lawrence who directed the last three films of the Hunger Games franchise. The prequel follows Coriolanus Snow, who is neither malevolent nor bloodthirsty for power compared to his appearances in the original Hunger Games films. He is, however, ambitious, at 18 years old, he becomes a mentor in the 10th Annual Hunger Games and gets assigned to District 12’s Lucy Gray Baird. What follows is a complicated relationship between him and Lucy, and the compassionate and cold versions of himself.

The Hunger Games The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Film Poster The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Release Date November 17, 2023

Director Francis Lawrence

Cast Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Viola Davis, Tom Blyth, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Burn Gorman, Fionnula Flanagan

Genres Sci-Fi, Drama, Thriller

When Will ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ Be Released?

As of right now, the film is scheduled to premiere on November 17, 2023.

Will ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ Be in Theaters or on Streaming?

Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blythe) hands Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) a white rose Image via Lionsgate

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will be released exclusively in movie theaters. It’s currently slated to open against Taika Waititi’s sports comedy Next Goal Wins, DreamWorks’ animated sequel Trolls Band Together, and Eli Roth’s slasher Thanksgiving.

Watch the Trailers for ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’

The teaser trailer for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes dropped on June 5, 2022. Little is revealed in this trailer, as it primarily announces the upcoming film. Viewers do see a return of the highly acclaimed soundtrack, altered for the prequel but still composed by James Newton Howard. The final image at the end of the trailer, of a serpent slithering beneath a songbird, is the same image that graces the cover of the book’s original material.

The full trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes was released on Lionsgates’ YouTube channel on April 27, 2023, right after it was shown during Lionsgate’s CinemaCon presentation. On August 8, 2023, we also got a new promo video for The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes that invites you to join the elite Academy. The second full-length trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes was released on Lionsgate’s YouTube channel on September 20, 2023.

On September 29, we also got a promotional clip for The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes that shows a “Special Report” by the in-universe Capitol News. The featurette is a retrospective on why the Hunger Games began in the first place, laying the groundwork both for the prequel and for the eventual revolution to come. Here’s the video:

Who Is in ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’?

Tom Blythe as Coriolanus Snow in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Image via Lionsgate

Tom Blyth takes over from Donald Sutherland, portraying a younger Coriolanus Snow. A rising star in the industry, Blythe has starred in the 2021 historical drama Benediction as Glen Byam Shaw, the HBO series The Gilded Age as Archie Baldwin, and the Epix series Billy the Kid as the outlaw William H. Bonney.

Rachel Zegler brings her beautiful singing voice, which shot her to stardom, to the character of Lucy Gray Baird. After her acclaimed and award-winning turn as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation of West Side Story, Zegler is quickly becoming one of the hottest and most in-demand names in the industry. She also recently had a supporting role in the superhero sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods. She will soon play the title role in Disney’s live-action remake of Snow White.

Zegler revealed that she initially turned down the role of Lucy Gray Baird, before changing her mind, speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, she said:


“Let me tell you because is such an embarrassing story for me. I was offered it in January of last year after wanting it so badly. I didn’t audition, it was just, I got a call from my agent that was like ‘Francis Lawrence [The Hunger Games franchise director] wants you to do this.’ And I met with him for like three hours at the Soho Hotel in London. And then he told me that they were filming in Germany and in Poland and I had just gotten to London and I wanted to disappear because I was so far away from home for the first time ever. And I was away from everybody that I knew and loved, and I said ‘no.’”

Playing Coriolanus Snow’s cousin, Tigris Snow, who audiences saw in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, is Hunter Schafer. Schafer’s breakout role came when she helped kickstart the Emmy Award-winning HBO series Euphoria as Jules Vaughn. Alongside playing Tigris in the film she is also set to star in the horror film Cuckoo which is slated for release in 2023.

Emmy Award-winning actor Peter Dinklage is Dean Casca Highbottom, one of two men who originally created the concept of the Hunger Games. He saw his first credited role in 1995 for playing Tito in the cult comedy Living in Oblivion. He went on to play supporting roles in Never Again, Tiptoes, and Elf. In 2003, he played a lead role in Station Agent, which director Tom McCarthy won a BAFTA for. He has since gone on to star in films such as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, I Care A Lot, Pixels, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Avengers: Infinity War, I Think We’re Alone Now, and Death at the Funeral. He garnered mass praise for his role of Tyrion Lannister in the award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones. He revolutionized a dearly loved musical in the 2021 film Cyrano, playing the poetic man pining after unrequited love, Cyrano de Bergerac. He recently carried another lead role in the 2022 black comedy American Dreamer as Dr. Phil Loder. He is next set to star in Macon Blair’s remake of The Toxic Avenger, the dramedy She Came To Me opposite Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomei, and the comedy Brothers alongside Josh Brolin, Brendan Fraser, and Glenn Close.


Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis will play the film’s villain, Dr. Volumnia Gail, the head gamemaker of the 10th annual Hunger Games. Davis has quite the impressive career, having starred in films such as Fences, The Help, Widows, Doubt, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Suicide Squad, The Unforgivable, Prisoners, The Woman King, and Air among others. Davis has also ventured into television with roles in shows like How to Get Away with Murder (for which she won the Emmy Award for Lead Actress in a Drama Series), and The First Lady, and guest-spots on shows such as Peacemaker, Scandal, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Jason Schwartzman is the interview host for the 10th Hunger Games, Lucretious Flickerman, the ancestor to Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) who audiences previously saw in the earlier Hunger Games films. Schwartzman saw his breakout role in 1998 as the lead in the Wes Anderson comedy Rushmore. He later played in various short films, films, and television series. He voiced Ash Fox in the 2009 Fantastic Mr. Fox and helped lead the HBO comedy series Bored to Death. He’s known for his role of Cousin Ben in the 2012 coming-of-age romance Moonrise Kingdom and for playing songwriter Richard Sherman in the Disney drama Saving Mr. Banks. He recently voiced The Spot in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and he starred in the leading role in Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City.

Isobel Jesper Jones will play Mayfair Lipp, the daughter of District 12’s mayor. Jones is a relative newcomer whose only other major role was in the Netflix series The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself. Laurel Marsden was previously cast in the role before dropping out. Other names on the cast list include Fionnula Flanagan, Flora Li Thiemann, Honor Gillies, Eike Onyambu, Konstantin Taffet, Burn Gorman, Scott Folan, Carl Spencer, Michael Greco, Daniela Grubert, Kjell Brutscheidt, Ashley Liao, Sofia Sanchez, Josh Andres Rivera, Mackenzie Lansing, Lilly Maria Cooper, Zoe Renee, Max Raphael, Vaughan Reilly, Dakota Shapiro, Nick Benson, and George Somner.

Related:’The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ Adds Nine to Ensemble Cast of ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel

What Is ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ About?


The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is based on the 2020 prequel novel written by Suzanne Collins.

The official synopsis via Lionsgate reads:

Experience the story of THE HUNGER GAMES — 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.

When and Where Did ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ Film?

Production on the prequel began in July 2022 in London. In early November 2022, Rachel Zegler revealed that filming had officially wrapped for The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.

How Long Will ‘The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ Be?


Each of The Hunger Games films runs over two hours in length, and The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will be no different. In fact, the prequel will be the longest film of the series. In an interview with Collider’s own Steve Weintraub, Francis Lawrence said:

“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 ends 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 also revealed to Collider that unlike Mockingjay, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes won’t be split into two separate movies and will be a stand-alone movie.

“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.”

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