Why Hunger Games director was “anxious” about Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
snow in Ballad of Songbirds and SnakesLionsgate

The Hunger Games brings us a prequel story, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, but how does the director feel about it?

We’re finally here at the 10th Annual Hunger Games with The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, a brand-new movie set long before Katniss Everdeen and the Mockingjay’s revolution.

The movie’s synopsis reads: “Years before he becomes the tyrannical president of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow remains the last hope for his fading lineage. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow becomes alarmed when he’s assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird from District 12. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and political savvy, they race against time to ultimately reveal who’s a songbird and who’s a snake.”

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Suzanna Collins’ prequel novel first came out in 2020, with the director of the previous Hunger Games movies (barring the first one) Francis Lawrence already on board to adapt it into a movie. However, he did have anxiety over some things.

Francis Lawrence was nervous to do Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes without Katniss

During an interview, we asked Francis Lawrence how he felt about jumping back into Panem, to which he responded: “We really thought [The Hunger Games] was gonna be done in 2015. I know there weren’t any plans for any books. And we all kind of wanted to go off and do some different things, and we did. Then she surprised us in 2019 and said, “I’m almost done with another book.” And it was exciting, but you know I hadn’t read it yet.

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“And I will say that I had some anxiety at that point about jumping into another Hunger Games without Katniss. But then I read the manuscript at the beginning of 2020 when it was ready, and I just fell in love with the story, and then it was really easy to jump back in, and sort of exciting. I think partially because I really loved the story, but also it very much felt like the Hunger Games movie, but it felt not like a rehash, it felt fresh, it had new opportunities for casting, new opportunities for world-building, and that was just all really exciting.”

But in terms of how he’s adapted Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Lawrence seems to have no regrets, even when it comes to cutting things out: “There’s nothing that I really miss. Obviously when you fall in love with a book and a story, you sort of wanna get as much as you can in it. But even knowing that we were gonna do a long movie, and we knew it would be a long movie cause it’s the longest book, you know there’s gonna be attrition, and you just have to decide what’s most important and let some of the other things fall away. But I don’t miss any of that.”

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in cinemas. Check out our other Hunger Games coverage below:

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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