The upcoming Hunger Games prequel, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” is set for release in late 2023. While it gives little away, it has imbued excitement within the hundreds of dedicated fans, eagerly champing at the bit for the next instalment. So what can we expect from the next movie in this much-lauded franchise?

Credit: Den of Geek

The Ballad of “Songbirds and Snakes” is based on Suzanne Collins’ 2020 novel of the same name; a prequel to Hunger Games. The book is set within the same universe and follows young Coriolanus Snow. Snow is an orphan scholar, before his rise to become the ruthless president we saw him portray in the original Katniss Aberdeen series. The movie hasn’t started production as of yet, but that hasn’t prevented Lionsgate Studios from drumming up maximum hype as early as possible.

A quick look at the trailer (above), reveals very little new information. Besides the intended logo for the next instalment of “The Hunger Games”. The camera slowly pans along a snow-covered tree to reveal a frosty songbird, and a serpent entangled along the branches. The bird, the snake and the tree shed their ice skin to reveal that they are made of pure gold beneath their frosty exterior. In gold letters, the trailer poses the question,

In 2023 the world will discover who is a snake and who is a songbird?”

The clip runs for 1 min and 30 seconds in total. Despite the ambiguous nature of the teaser, it is sending its fanbase into a digital frenzy. Many fans write in the comments section that this was the best book in the series yet, and they can not wait until the movie is released.

Credit: Youtube

Major details of the plot have not been released. However, it is certain to closely follow the book of the same name by Suzanne Collins. The original book depicts an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow. It tells the story of his rise from orphan living with his grandmother and cousin; to his newly appointed status as a mentor to a tribute named Lucy from District 12, for the upcoming 10th Hunger Games.

Setting the Scene

Set 64 years before the Katniss Aberdeen Era, Coriolanus is determined to make a good impression. His success in the games will guarantee him the prize money he needs to elevate his status. The book is a lengthy read with many twists and turns. Therefore, it is unclear as of yet whether the whole story will be covered in one film or divided over several instalments.

Fascist Leader?

Fans of the original Hunger Games book series rallied before the prequel’s release, as they believe that the book was attempting to garner public sympathy for a fascist leader. Aiden Thomas, the author of the New York Times Bestseller “Cemetery Boys,” wrote on Twitter:

“the very last thing I’m interested in is humanising a fascist dictator because he has a tragic past.”

However, Collins refutes this criticism, as the prequel portrays Snow from the beginning. He is the cruel and ruthless reader he was destined to become, showing her readers that Snow’s cruelty was always present within him.

Credit: The Insider

The story is set sixty-four years before the events of the Mockingjay “Hunger Games”. Therefore none of the original cast will reprise their role unless there are major changes to the book.

Rising star, Tom Blyth is cast in the role of the young Snow just last month, according to Digital Spy. “The Songbirds and Snakes” director, Francis Lawrence (director of the previous Hunger Games) describes the Snow’s character, as

“a survivor, a loyal friend, a cutthroat, a kid quick to fall in love, and a young man ambitious to his core.”

And went on to explain the casting choice.”Tom’s take on the character showed us all the complex ambiguities of this young man as he transforms into the tyrant he would become.”

Credit: EW

The president of production for Lionsgate Movies, Erin Westerman calls Blyth “an explosive rising talent whose mesmerising and charismatic presence makes him an exciting actor and perfect for this leading role”.

A Star for the Next Generation

Another casting selection is the role of District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird – Rachel Zegler of “West Side Story”. Lionsgate Motion Picture Group president Nathan Kahane, says in a statement of the casting choice,

“When you read Suzanne’s book, Lucy Gray’s emotional intelligence, physical agility, and fiercely powerful, determined singing voice shine through. Rachel embodies all of those skills — she is the perfect choice for our Lucy Gray,”

“Like everybody, I first saw Rachel Zegler in ‘West Side Story,’ and like everybody, I knew I was watching a star who would command the screen for a generation,” said director, Francis Lawrence. “Lucy Gray is a perfect match for her as an actress: the character is bold, independent and defiant, but also vulnerable, emotional and loving. Rachel will make this character unforgettable.”

Credit: Screen Rant

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is due for release on November 17, 2023. That is quite a long wait for the eager fans who are anxiously waiting for their favourite book to come to life. Although there will inevitably be many changes to the film’s production before that date. One thing is certain though, this film will have some massive hype to live up to! Check back for developments closer to the release date.

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