Hunger Games prequel movie: Release date, cast, plot & everything we know

President snow and the hunger games ballad logoLionsgate

Hunger Games prequel book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is finally getting a film adaptation! Here’s everything we know so far.

The Hunger Games franchise expanded in 2020 with a new book by Suzanne Collins, the writer of the original trilogy. This Hunger Games prequel book, titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which features the life of the original books’ villain, President Snow.

The book proved to be popular amongst fans. So popular in fact, that it is getting its own movie adaptation, which is currently in production and expected to be out next year.

There’s been a lot of information going out around the film, so here’s everything we know so far about the Hunger Games prequel film – and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Hunger Games prequel release date: When will The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes premiere?

The movie arrives on Nov. 17, 2023, over 11 years after the first Hunger Games film was released.

So there’s clearly still time to go and pick up the prequel book if you want to read it first, and perhaps catch up on the other films and books to get you up to speed. If you haven’t been doing that already, obviously.

Hunger Games prequel plot: What is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes about?

As you may know, the Hunger Games franchise is set in the dystopian America of the future. Now known as Panem, the county holds a game every year, in which a young boy and girl from every district – called Tributes – must fight to the death for the entertainment of the ruthless Capitol.

The villain of the original trilogy, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) was defeated by Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and the rebellious districts. But he wasn’t the person who created the games, he was merely born into that world and upheld it. So what made him into such a ruthless dictator?

That’s the story that The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes wants to tell.

President snow in the hunger gamesLionsgate
Sutherland played a great villain in the original series.

The Hunger Games prequel film will cover the plot of Suzanne Collin’s book, which is set during the 10th Hunger Games, 64 years before the original trilogy. It will follow a teenage Coriolanus Snow as he mentors District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird, and a relationship grows between the pair.

Lionsgate, the production company of the film franchise, gives this official synopsis: “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.”

Hunger Games prequel cast and crew: Who will be involved in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

The Hunger Games films have always had a large cast, so let’s get into the crew first.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will be directed by Francis Lawrence, director of Catching Fire and both Mockingjay films.

Michael Lesslie – known for 2015’s Macbeth and 2016’s Assassin’s Creed films – has drafted the latest version of the script, working off a draft by Catching Fire screenwriter Michael Arndt and Suzanne Collins herself.

As for the cast, the Hunger Games prequel will star Tom Blyth – of 2022’s Billy the Kid – as Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler – of 2021’s West Side Story – as Lucy Gray Baird.

Joining them will be Josh Andrés Rivera – also of West Side Story fame -who will be playing Snow’s close friend and fellow tribute mentor Sejanus Plinth. Ashley Liao – from Fuller House – will also be playing a friend of Snow’s, Clemensia Dovecote.

west side story cast20th Century Studios
Zegler and Rivera both shone in Spielberg’s musical remake.

Hunter Schafer – best known for Euphoria – will be Tigris, Snow’s cousin and constant advisor.

Jason Schwartzman – who’s appeared in several Wes Anderson films – will play Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman, an ancestor of Cesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and host of the 10th Hunger Games.

Laurel Marsden – from Ms. Marvel – will be playing Mayfair Lipp, the one who puts Lucy Gray’s name forward for the games.

The newest – and very exciting – additions to the cast include Peter Dinklage and Viola Davis. Dinklage will be portraying the Dean of the Capitol’s Academy and face of the Games, Casca Highbottom. Davis will play Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the creative and fearsome head gamemaker of the 10th Hunger Games.

Here is a list of other cast members in the film, and what their exact role is – a lot of them are playing other tributes in the Games, or members of the Academy in the Capitol:

  • Zoe Renee – Lysistrata Vickers
  • Max Raphael – Festus Creed
  • Aamer Husain – Felix Ravinstill
  • Lilly Cooper – Arachne Crane
  • Ayomide Adegun – Pliny “Pup” Harrington
  • Kaitlyn Akinpelumi – Domita Whimsiwick
  • Amélie Hoeferle – Vipsania Sickle
  • Jerome Lance – Marcus from District 2
  • Knox Gibson – Bobbin from District 8
  • Mackenzie Lansing – Coral from District 4
  • Sofia Sanchez – Wovey from District 8
  • Nick Benson – Jessup from District 12

Hunger Games prequel trailer: What have we seen so far about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

Not much has been visibly shown for the film, but a teaser trailer has been released, as has a “first look” image.

The teaser doesn’t show any clips of the film, but it does heavily invoke the franchises’ iconography, even alluding to – though never actually featuring – the classic Mockingjay whistle.

The trailer is pretty much an animated version of the book’s cover design. A songbird and snake, covered in frost, weave through a frozen tree. When the ice breaks off, it reveals a gold logo, and the trailer states, “You’re invited to return to the games.

“In 2023, the world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake.”

More recently, a romantic image of the film’s two leads, Snow and Lucy Gray, was released by the franchise on Twitter. The text above the photo reads, “This is a story about love. And we love all the kinds of things we don’t trust,” which perfectly encapsulates the relationship between the pair.

While there has been some concern surrounding the image – namely that their costumes look like they’re from 2007 – we’ll have to wait and see more before we can get a full idea of the film.

This list will be updated as we find out more.