The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes – Release date, cast, plot & more

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
ballad of songbirds and snakesLionsgate

Here’s everything we know so far about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, The Hunger Games prequel film, including its release date, cast, plot, and more.

In the early 2010s, the young adult dystopian genre permeated the book and movie worlds. One of the biggest and best successes to come from this time was The Hunger Games, set in a world in which children are forced to fight each other to the death in an arena created and run by the oppressive and controlling Capitol society.

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The franchise expanded in 2020 when author Suzanne Collins released a prequel novel. This book, titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, focuses on the early life of the original books’ villain, President Snow. The book proved to be popular among fans, so popular in fact, that it’s now getting its own movie adaptation.

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 – and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Contents:

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

The movie is set to arrive in cinemas on November 17, 2023, over 11 years after the first Hunger Games film was released.

One of the stars of the film, Rachel Zegler, confirmed via Twitter the movie has officially finished filming.

For those who have yet to pick up the book, this means you’ve still got plenty of time to give it a read before the movie comes out.

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 country holds a game every year in which a young boy and girl from every district must fight to the death for the entertainment of the ruthless Capitol.

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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.

The Hunger Games- The Ballad of Songbirds bodyLionsgate
The Hunger Games dominated the 2010s

The Hunger Games prequel film will cover the plot of Suzanne Collins’ 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.

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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.

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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: Who will work on The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

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.

The film’s director Francis Lawrence recently explained the difference between Katniss Everdeen and Lucy Gray Baird as he referred to Lucy as the “anti-Katniss” stating: “She wears her sexuality on her sleeve, [and] she really is a performer.”

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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. 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.

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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 the 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 roles are – a lot of them are playing other tributes in the Games or members of the Academy in the Capitol:

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  • 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

As for behind the camera, 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.

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

A trailer for the movie was released in April 2023 and can be viewed below:

This trailer offers up our first look at the prequel. It includes a killer score, scenes of the 10th annual Hunger Games, and of course, lots of characters to root for.

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Lionsgate Movies provided another trailer for the film on September 20, 2023. Hunger Games fans may recognize The Hanging Tree being played throughout the explosive video. A snippet of the song was previously revealed before the trailer premiered.

There’s also been other teasing material, such as still images and snippets from the soundtrack.

Is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes worth watching?

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is worth a watch as it’s been an overwhelming success with audiences.

As of this moment, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is sitting at a 61% with critics and 90% with audience through Rotten Tomatoes. It’s now the highest rated film in the franchise.

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About The Author

Lucy-Jo is a Movies and TV Writer at Dexerto, and has previously written for Screen Rant and Girls on Tops. After earning a Master's Degree in Film and Literature, Lucy-Jo now loves covering films, TV shows, and anime, especially if it's something by Mike Flanagan, or anything drenched in camp. You can contact her at lucyjo.finnighan@dexerto.com