Who is in the cast of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?
West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler, Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer and rising star Tom Blyth are taking the lead for the prequel.
What is the plot of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes in a nutshell?
The film will follow a young Coriolanus Snow, the future president of Panem, as he mentors a tribute for the 10th Hunger Games—a tournament which paves the way for his tyrannical reign.
When will The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes be released?
It’s due to land in cinemas on 17 November 2023.
Is there a trailer for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?
Not yet, though an enigmatic teaser was released earlier this year. Before you watch it in full, here are all the details you need to know.
It takes place six decades before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute
Set 64 years before the events of the Hunger Games series, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is based on Suzanne Collins’s 2020 prequel of the same name. It centres on Coriolanus Snow, the white-haired president of Panem, played with elegant malevolence by the incomparable Donald Sutherland in the four record-breaking films adapted from Collins’s best-selling trilogy between 2012 and 2015. Back then, Snow was only an ambitious teenager who, despite being orphaned and teetering on the edge of poverty, managed to excel at the Academy and was assigned to mentor a tribute for the 10th Hunger Games: the fierce (and musically gifted) Lucy Gray Baird from District 12. Their relationship, as well as the blood-soaked tournament which set Snow on the path to tyranny, is the subject of the hotly anticipated new release.
The log line reads: “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 favour. 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.”
Its production has been steeped in mystery from the very beginning
On 28 April 2022, CinemaCon attendees were given a first glimpse of the upcoming action epic—an enigmatic teaser featuring shots of thawing ice and the words: “The world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake.” Even more intriguing? The fact that the film’s cast remained shrouded in mystery, even though it was already in production. It was confirmed, however, that Francis Lawrence, who helmed The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) and the two-part Mockingjay (2014 and 2015), had returned to the director’s chair and Michael Arndt, who collaborated with him on the former, had penned the script alongside Michael Lesslie.
The cast is packed with big names and rising stars
More news followed in May, including that Rachel Zegler, who delighted audiences as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and will soon play the titular Disney princess in Snow White, would be taking on the part of Baird. Meanwhile, Tom Blyth, recently seen in Benediction and The Gilded Age, would be Snow. Then, in June, it was revealed that Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer had joined the pair as Tigris Snow, Coriolanus’s cousin who serves as both an advisor and confidante to the future leader, guiding him through his role as a mentor. So too had Josh Andrés Rivera, who appeared alongside Zegler in West Side Story as Maria’s doomed love interest Chino, and would be playing Sejanus Plinth, a close friend of Snow and the mentor to a tribute from District 2.
Since then, Jason Schwartzman has come aboard as Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman, the host of the 10th Hunger Games and an ancestor of Caesar Flickerman, the flamboyant master of ceremonies embodied by Stanley Tucci in the original films. Also part of the ensemble is Peter Dinklage, as Casca Highbottom, the dean of the Academy, and Viola Davis, as Volumnia Gaul, the menacing head game maker, both formative figures in Snow’s life.
Among the other familiar faces poised to make appearances in supporting roles are Emmy winner Fionnula Flanagan as Grandma’am, Snow’s supremely strict grandmother; Master’s Zoe Renee as Lysistrata Vickers, a mentor to a tribute from District 12; Mare of Easttown’s Mackenzie Lansing as Coral, a tribute from District 4; Ms Marvel’s Laurel Marsden as Mayfair Lipp, who places Baird’s name into contention for the games; and Game of Thrones’s Burn Gorman as Commander Hoff, one of the peacekeepers dispatched to District 12 from the Capitol. All those involved ought to be prepared for superstardom. After all, Jennifer Lawrence entered the franchise as the Oscar-nominated but still little-known breakout of the indie hit Winter’s Bone and departed it as the highest-paid female actor in Hollywood.
The first still shows a pair of starry-eyed young lovers
On 16 August, Lionsgate released the first official photo from the production. It shows Zegler as Baird and Blyth as Snow, holding hands and laying on a blanket in the grass as they gaze dreamily into the distance. It’s clear from the image that their romance will be central to the story, and that the film’s action-packed set pieces will be balanced by quieter, more contemplative moments.
Expect it to dominate the box office next autumn
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set to be released in cinemas on 17 November 2023. Collectively, the series has grossed almost $3 billion globally so far, and this new addition to the canon, with its promise of gladiatorial battles and shocking betrayals, ought to be equally successful—if not even more so. May the odds be ever in its favour.
This story was originally published on Vogue.com.