Lionsgate has revealed an exclusive first-look image for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. This photo, courtesy of Vanity Fair, features lead actors Tom Blyth and Rachel Zeigler holding hands and relaxing in the woods. Director Francis Lawrence has described the Hunger Games prequel as an intimate love story “set in a different time in a different kind of world.” The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set to hit theaters worldwide on November 17, 2023.
Actor Blythe, who plays 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow, posted the image on his Instagram handle with the cheeky caption: “Sneaky peek into our obscure little film about 2 totally cool birdwatchers with no emotional damage…” Approximately 64 years before the events of The Ballad of Songbirds and The Hunger Games movies. The Snakes were set – long before Snow was appointed president of the dystopian land of Panem. As the 10th annual Hunger Games approaches, he is tasked with guiding Zeigler’s Lucy Gray Baird, a girl from impoverished District 12, to embark on a love story.
“He’s a young man finding his way in the world, but he also makes choices about the man he’s becoming,” said creator Nina Jacobson. Vanity Fair, during the course of the film, Snow will find himself caught between “two forces of nature”: one the charming Lucy and the other the new villain Dr. Volumnia Gaul, who serves as the academy’s chief gamemaker and coach. Newcomer Viola Davis (The Suicide Squad) takes the role, presenting a brutal and commanding character.
Lucy balances the brutal world of the franchise, adding some charm, thanks to her melodious voice that was first showcased in the Harvest Festival. “It’s not by judgement, but Lucy Gray is the anti-Katniss [played by Jennifer Lawrence in past films]” Lawrence said. “She’s a musician, she’s an artist, she’s a charmer…. Snow had never met a girl like her before.”
The two young men finally come together, combining their instincts for showmanship and a new political order, and race against time to reveal who is the snake and the songbird between them. “It’s completely different in style in terms of design, character and approach,” Jacobson said. “It was really exciting to be able to show a different side of Panam at a different time in history.”
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is being directed by Lawrence, who previously filmed Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2. Michael Leslie (Macbeth) wrote the screenplay, based on the work of young-adult novelist Suzanne Collins. The prequel stars Hunter Shaffer (Euphoria) as Tigris Snow, Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as Casca Highbottom, Jason Schwartzman (The Darjeeling Limited), Lucretius ‘Lucky’ Flickerman, Kjell Brutscheid as Tanner, and C Ashlemano as Leah.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes releases in theaters worldwide on November 17, 2023.