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Enter the Arena: 'The Hunger Games' Prequel 'The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes' Just Dropped a New Trailer

Let the games begin — based on Suzanne Collins' book on the same name, this new addition to the franchise dives into the Hunger Games' early years.
By Sarah Ward
September 21, 2023
By Sarah Ward
September 21, 2023

Before Coriolanus Snow became President of Panem and kept having encounters with Katniss Everdeen, he was an 18-year-old Capitol resident tasked with mentoring District 12's female tribute. So tells author Suzanne Collins' 2020 The Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes on the page, as will the franchise's new film of the same name when it enters the cinematic arena in November.

This jump backwards in the saga's timeline is set 64 years prior to the dystopian tales told its initial four movies, with Tom Blyth (Billy the Kid) doing his best to become a young Donald Sutherland. And the tribute he's charged with readying? Meet Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler, Shazam! Fury of the Gods). If you're wondering where the book and feature's titles come from, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes references Lucy's bold move during the reaping ceremony: singing.

Yes, every movie franchise ever has to keep returning, as Harry Potter and Twilight are as well. If the Wizarding World can have young Dumbledore, The Hunger Games can have young Snow, clearly.

In The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes' debut trailer earlier in 2023 and also in its just-dropped new sneak peek, Snow's backstory scores more detail. He gets the mentor gig because he hails from a family that's hit hard times in the postwar Capitol — and he's told that he's now in the business of creating "spectacles, not survivors", in a word of warning about what's expected in his new role.

That comment comes from the creator of The Hunger Games himself, Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage, Cyrano), Dean of the Academy, and the reason that children from 12 of Panem's districts fight to the death every year for the entertainment of the masses.

Of course, this wouldn't be a Hunger Games story if one of its tributes didn't earn hearts as well as attention. When his protege proves a hit, Snow starts to think about turning the odds in their favour. That said, viewers already know that any good he achieves here won't change the fate that's already been seen in the initial 2008–10 novels and 2012–15 movies.

As well as Blyth, Zegler and Dinklage, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes features a stacked cast spanning Jason Schwartzman (Asteroid City), Viola Davis (Air), Hunter Schafer (Euphoria) and Josh Andrés Rivera (Zegler's West Side Story co-star). Francis Lawrence jumps behind the lens again, as he did with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part II.

Check out the latest trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes below:

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes releases in cinemas Down Under on November 16, 2023.

Images: Murray Close.

Published on September 21, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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