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The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023 Movie) - Reveal

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023 movie)

A train back to Panem awaits.

The world of The Hunger Games is expanding once again with the big-screen adaption of Suzanne Collins' prequel novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes — and the tributes are already lining up.

The upcoming film is being directed by Francis Lawrence, who helmed the last three Hunger Games movies, and the cast has begun to take shape. So let's take stock of everything we know so far about the highly anticipated prequel, including its plot, players, and premiere date.

What's it about?

A prelude to the original film series starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes tells the story of a teenage Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland in the original movies) before he becomes the authoritarian president of Panem.

The story takes place around the 10th annual Hunger Games. Coriolanus, much to his chagrin, is picked to be a mentor to Lucy Gray Baird, a young female tribute from the impoverished District 12. "But, after Lucy Gray 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," according to a synopsis from the studio. "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."

Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow in 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow in 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
| Credit: Everett Collection

Who's directing, writing, and producing?

Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer), who helmed Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part 1, and Mockingjay Part 2, will return to direct and produce the prequel. Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson are also returning as producers. Collins, Tim Palen, and Jim Miller will executive-produce the film, which features a screenplay by Assassin's Creed writer Michael Lesslie.

Who's been cast so far?

Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler
Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler
| Credit: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images; Nathan Johnson

Tom Blyth (Billy the Kid, The Gilded Age) has been cast as the young Coriolanus Snow, while Rachel Zegler (West Side Story, Shazam! Fury of the Gods) will play Lucy Gray Baird. Zegler's West Side Story costar Josh Andrés Rivera has also been tapped to play Snow's friend Sejanus Plinth, while Euphoria breakout Hunter Schafer has been cast as Tigris, Coriolanus' cousin and confidante. A prized Capitol stylist, Tigris was portrayed by Eugenie Bondurant in the original franchise; she is revealed to be Snow's cousin in the prequel.

Jason Schwartzman will portray Lucretius "Lucky" Flickerman, host of the 10th annual Hunger Games and ancestor to Caesar Flickerman, portrayed by Stanley Tucci in the original franchise. There will also be a new crop of tributes and mentors, including Jerome Lance as Marcus, a tribute from District 2; Ashley Liao as Clemensia Dovecote, one of Coriolanus' closest friends and mentor to a tribute from District 11; Knox Gibson as Bobbin, a tribute from District 8; Mackenzie Lansing as Coral, a tribute from District 4; and Aamer Husain as Felix Ravinstill, a mentor to a tribute from District 11.

When will it debut in theaters?

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is scheduled to hit theaters worldwide on Nov. 17, 2023. Lionsgate chairman Joe Drake previously revealed that production would begin during the first half of 2022, meaning cast and crew are likely already hard at work.

Will there be any returning cast members from the original trilogy?

It's currently unclear whether any of the original cast members — such as Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, of Willow Shields — will return in some capacity, but it seems unlikely given that Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place more than six decades before the originals.

Is there a trailer?

Not yet, but Lionsgate did release a brief teaser, showing only a snow-covered songbird and snake frozen together on a branch. As the ice melts, the animals' golden sheen is revealed, and the snake strikes at the bird. "You're invited to return to the Games in 2023," the clip teases. "The world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake." 

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Related content:

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023 Movie) - Reveal
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023 movie)

This prequel to the blockbuster film series tells the story of a teenage Coriolanus Snow, before he becomes the authoritarian president of Panem.

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