The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Everything We Know About The Hunger Games Prequel
Very soon we’ll be hoping the odds are in our favor again. The return to the world of The Hunger Games is imminent, and Lionsgate prepares the return of its successful franchise with a prequel that promises to unravel the mysteries of one of its most feared characters. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will soon be coming to the big screen with new actors and characters, but with a similar tone to that occasion when the public was able to enter Panem with the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in the adaptation of the trilogy written by Suzanne Collins.
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While in other franchises there is a constant change of directors, Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (89%), The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 (65%) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (70%)) returned to be behind the cameras in this film, which is also an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Collins that was published on May 19, 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, for which the author had to do a virtual release.
Notably, the story has received generally positive feedback from critics, although upon its release the reception was rather mixed. Among the things that have been said about it, the way in which this spin-off expands on the lore of The Hunger Games, the history of the Capitol and the mockingjays stands out a lot. It has also been detailed that the themes of oppression, betrayal and friendship stand out; It clearly remains in the same vein as the successful trilogy.
As for Lionsgate, the company behind the production of these adaptations, it had plans to expand its franchise since 2017 when its CEO mentioned that a writers’ room would be installed to explore ideas that could become spin-offs of the film version of The Hunger Games. The four-film saga has grossed nearly $2.97 billion worldwide, and so far remains one of the highest-grossing in history.
The book was announced in October 2019, including the reveal of its cover, and accompanied by comments from studio heads who said they were working closely with Suzanne Collins, with the intention of producing a movie as soon as possible.
What is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes about?
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes introduces a young Coriolanus Snow, who is not the cruel man we met in the trilogy. By this point in the story, the Snow family was wealthy and powerful, but finds itself living on hard times after losing its patriarch, General Crassus Snow, who was killed in action while leading Capitol forces as a tactician and war hero.
Unsurprisingly, the family is determined to keep up appearances despite running out of resources including the loss of the Coriolanus apartment and the Snows’ social prestige, which is obviously the worst thing that could happen to them. He is not alone, as those closest to him are his cousin Tigris Snow and his grandmother, who goes by the nickname of Grandma’am.
Therefore, the young man makes the decision to restore the prosperity of his family as he sees fit, and finds a great opportunity when he is called to be a mentor in the tenth edition of The Hunger Games. It is thanks to his academic excellence that he manages to enter there, and then meets the District 12 tribute assigned to him, named Lucy Gray Baird, who is part of a group of traveling musicians. Lucy quickly attracts attention, and complicates things for a Coriolanus who wants everything to go perfectly in order to succeed in his work, make a good impression and recover what his family has lost.
In what era is it located the story?
The prequel takes place 64 years before the first novel and film, at a time when the Capitol is recovering from the serious damage caused by a long and costly war with the Districts. Back then, Snow was not the terrifying figure played by Donald Sutherland, but just an ambitious teenager who, despite being on the brink of poverty, managed to excel and was assigned to mentor a tribute for the Tenth Hunger Games: the intrepid Lucy Gray Baird of District 12. Their relationship, as well as the tournament that set Snow on the path to tyranny, is the subject of the highly anticipated Lionsgate release.
Will any character from The Hunger Games trilogy return?
Because the story takes place 64 years before the events of the first film it is impossible to see Katniss, Peeta or any other character of the trilogy coming back. Nevertheless, the prequel will showcase a younger Coriolanus Snow, prior to his tyrannical rise to power. Snow was played in the earlier Hunger Games film series by powerhouse actor Donald Sutherland. Tom Blyth will portray the character in the prequel.
Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Peter Dinklage and other stars star in the film’s adaptation of The prequel will not only be a delight for fans of The Hunger Games because of its story, but also because of the actors who star in the story.
Rachel Zegler is Lucy Gray Baird, the franchise’s newest heroine, and Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow. Hunter Schafer joined the cast as Tigris Snow, his cousin, and Fionnula Flanagan plays his grandmother. The cast also includes Viola Davis in the role of Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the mastermind behind the Tenth Hunger Games; Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom, the dean of the Academy and unwitting creator of the games; Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman, host of the 10th annual Hunger Games and ancestor of Caesar Flickerman; Burn Gorman as Commander Hoff; Isobel Jesper Jones as Mayfair Lipp, among other actors who joined the project in the roles of the tributes of each of the Districts.
The official synopsis
Years before he became the tyrannical president of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, 18 years old , is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the tenth annual Hunger Games fast approaching, young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the female tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray draws all of Panem’s attention singing defiant during the harvest ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in his favor. Marrying their showmanship instincts and their newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy Gray in their race against time to survive will finally reveal who is a songbird and who is a snake.
Zegler had turned down the role but changed his mind during his stint on the Happy podcast. Sad Confused, the lead actress in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes revealed that she initially turned down the role when her agent told her she had been contacted by director Francis Lawrence (via ScreenRant). Although she said she felt ashamed at the time of telling the story, she explained why she did it, although she later regretted it and luckily she was able to get the role.