Suzanne Collins’ bestselling Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is already shaping up to be one of the most highly-anticipated movies of 2023. The two key roles of Coriolanus “Coryo” Snow and Lucy Gray Baird have been perfectly cast, with Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler taking on the characters. Lionsgate unveiled the first photo of Coryo (with his bright blonde hair) and Lucy Gray looking very cozy on August 16.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will dive into the backstory of the one and only President Snow. His rise to power was full of twists and turns, particularly when it comes to the one and only Lucy Gray Baird. On top of the film being a Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will feature incredible music. HollywoodLife has all the latest updates regarding the cast, release date, and more.
When Will The Movie Be Released?
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will be released on November 17, 2023. Lionsgate announced the film’s release date during their CinemaCon presentation in April 2022, along with a brief teaser that wasn’t released publicly at the time. The teaser later debuted during the MTV Movie & TV Awards in June 2022.
“You’re invited to return to the games in 2023. The world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake,” the message in the teaser read. The teaser didn’t feature any footage of the film. The teaser opens with frozen tree branches, a songbird, and a snake. Suddenly, the ice falls away to reveal a golden songbird and snake. In the final seconds of the teaser, the snake goes in for the kill.
The movie is currently in production. The first trailer with footage will likely drop around Christmas 2022. By then, filming should be nearly complete.
Who Is In The Cast Of Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes?
- Tom Blyth as Coriolanus “Coryo” Snow: Coryo is 18 when the book begins. The young Snow is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12 during the 10th annual Hunger Games. Donald Sutherland played Snow in the original Hunger Games movies.
- Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird: Lucy is the District 12 female tribute. She is mentored by Coryo and gets all of Panem’s attention when she sings during the reaping ceremony. Lucy and Coryo develop feelings for each other over the course of the novel. Rachel’s incredible voice will be on full display. Lucy performs a number of songs in the novel.
“Like everybody, I first saw Rachel Zegler in West Side Story, and like everybody, I knew I was watching a star who would command the screen for a generation,” director Francis Lawrence told Deadline. “Lucy Gray is a perfect match for her as an actress: the character is bold, independent, and defiant, but also vulnerable, emotional, and loving. Rachel will make this character unforgettable.”
Rachel made her film debut in the 2021 West Side Story remake. She will also star as Snow White in an upcoming live-action adaptation.
listen up….. can y’all grow restfully? are you becoming an individual resting decisively?
— rachel zegler (she/her/hers) (@rachelzegler) May 30, 2022
She teased her role in a tweet one day before the news was announced. The first letter of each tweet spells out “Lucy Gray Baird.”
- Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow: The Euphoria star plays Coriolanus’ cousin in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Tigris is a talented stylist in the early days of the Hunger Games. She is played by Eugenie Bondurant in Mockingjay — Part 2.
- Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom: Casca is the Dean of the Academy in the Capitol and credited for creating the Hunger Games. He is later assassinated. Peter is known for playing Tyrion Lannister in the series Game of Thrones.
- Viola Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul: Dr. Gaul is the Head Gamemaker of the 10th Hunger Games. She is also an instructor at the University. Get ready to see the Oscar winner embrace her villain side. “Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable. Snow’s savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experiences with her as the games’ most commanding figure,” director Francis Lawrence told THR. Producer Nina Jacobson added, “From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role. 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.”
- Josh Andrés Rivera as Sejanus Plinth: Sejanus is a close friend of Coriolanus and a citizen of The Capitol. He is a mentor for District 2 member Marcus during the 10th Hunter Games. Josh reunites onscreen with Rachel, who starred alongside him in West Side Story. Josh and Rachel are also dating.
- Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman: Lucky is a weathercaster who ends up hosting the interviews from the 10th Hunger Games. His last name is the same as Caesar Flickerman, played by Stanley Tucci in The Hunger Games films, so the characters are likely related.
- Lilly Cooper as Arachne Crane: Arachne is a resident of The Capitol and a student of the Academy. She is a mentor to District 10 tribute Brandy during the 10th Hunter Games.
- Hiroki Berrecloth as Treech: Treech is a male tribute during the 10th Hunger Games. He is mentored by Vipsania Sickle.
- Laurel Marsden as Mayfair Lipp: Mayfair is the daughter of Mayor Lipp, who is the mayor of District 12 when it’s time for the 10th Hunger Games.
- Ashley Liao as Clemensia Dovecote: Clemensia lives in The Capitol and is a student at the Academy. She is a mentor to District 11 tribute Reaper Ash during the 10th Hunger Games.
- Nick Benson as Jessup Diggs: Jessup is the male tribute from District 12 alongside Lucy Gray in the 10th Hunger Games. They are allies during the Games.
- Luna Steeples as Dill: Dill is a female tribute from District 11 in the 10th Hunter Games.
Since The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place years before Katniss Everdeen was even born, Jennifer Lawrence will not be reprising the iconic character in the prequel. However, there’s a theory that Katniss and Lucy Gray are related. Many fans believe Lucy Gray’s cousin, Maude Ivory Baird, is Katniss’ grandmother.
Who Is The Creative Team?
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will be directed by Francis Lawrence, who helmed three of The Hunger Games movies: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2. He will be pulling double duty as a director and producer of The Hunger Games prequel.
The screenplay was written by Michael Arndt and Michael Lesslie. Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson will join Francis as producers. Nina was a producer of all four Hunger Games movies.
What Is The Storyline Of The Movie?
The official synopsis of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is: “Years before he would become the tyrannical 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 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. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy Gray’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.”
In tandem with the first photo being released on August 16, Vanity Fair did an intimate piece on the making of the movie. The movie’s director stressed that The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has a love story at the center. “This is very much a story about love,” Francis told the outlet. “It’s this kind of love story set in a different kind of a world in a different time,” he added. “A very intimate love story.”
Nina admitted that the film will focus on Coryo being torn between his quest for power and love. “He is a young man finding his way in the world, but he also makes choices that presage the man he is becoming,” Nina revealed. “He is a shapeshifter who craves control, but is drawn to a woman who threatens everything he thought he wanted.”
Francis noted that 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.”
What Is It Based On?
The film is based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Collins. Suzanne rose to fame with her Hunger Games series: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. Ten years after the last Hunger Games book, she published The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on May 19, 2020.
The original Hunger Games books were part of a trilogy. As of now, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the only prequel book Suzanne has written. However, the book is divided into three parts, which could possibly lead to a trilogy of films. There’s definitely more than enough content in the book to make more than one film. The book’s third part is set in District 12 and focuses on music.
Suzanne also wrote an epilogue at the end of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, just like she did at the end of Mockingjay. Even if The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is contained in just one film, there are still a lot of stories to tell before Katniss comes into the picture. Subsequent films could follow Snow’s rise to power.
The Focus On President Snow
President Snow is a fascinating and controversial figure in The Hunger Games universe. Suzanne’s writing and Donald Sutherland introduced us to the character on the page and screen, and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes gets to the root of Coriolanus Snow. Snow is a core figure in Panem, and his backstory is full of intrigue and drama.
It’ll be interesting to see if the movie and Tom Blyth’s portrayal will have fans feeling empathetic towards Snow. However, one thing is for certain: everyone is going to love Lucy Gray Baird.
As more information is revealed about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, HollywoodLife will continue to update this post. Stay tuned for more updates!