The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - What you need to know

The highly anticipated Hunger Games prequel is about to hit cinemas.

Here’s everything you need to know about The Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, coming out in Aussie cinemas on November 16.

When is it set?

Based on the book of the same name, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes focuses on the 10th Hunger Games and the dystopian world of Panem.

As a refresher, the original trilogy begins with the events of the 74th Hunger Games, meaning Songbirds and Snakes is set 64 years before we meet Katniss Everdeen.

Three actors stand in a row, a man on the left in grey military gear and girl in the centre in a dress with a feathered skirt, holding hands with a man in a red suit.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set 64 years before The Hunger Games. Credit: Lionsgate

What is it about?

Songbirds and Snakes follows an 18-year-old Corialanous Snow, who eventually becomes the future President Snow, and his Hunger Games tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird.

Set 10 years after the war and uprising that sparked The Hunger Games, the story follows Coriolanus’ journey as a mentor and gives audiences an insight into the early days of the deadly Games.

The 10th Games aren’t the same as what we know from the original trilogy, instead, they’re “a militant punishment, a straightforward fight to the death between malnourished teenagers.”

To get the people of the Capitol interested in watching, Casca Highbottom - often referred to as the ‘creator of The Hunger Games’ - encourages his students to turn the tributes into “spectacles, not survivors.”

At his prestigious Capitol high school, Coriolanus is assigned to mentor District 12’s female tribute - Lucy Gray Baird. Initially, Coriolanus is frustrated, but later, as the Songbirds and Snakes synopsis says, “Snow thinks he may be able to turn the odds in their favour.”

Rachel Zegler is standing in front of a group of people all with concerned looks on their faces.
Rachel Zegler plays Lucy Gray Baird.

Is Lucy Gray connected to Katniss Everdeen?

Lucy Gray Baird has been described by director Francis Lawrence as the “anti-Katniss”. Actress Rachel Zegler says, “Lucy Gray is a performer forced to fight and Katniss is a fighter forced to perform.”

There are some interesting ties between the two characters, including the famous song ‘The Hanging Tree’ that Katniss sings in Mockingjay. The song was written by Lucy Gray during the events of Songbirds and Snakes and Katniss was taught it by her father.

Mockingjays are also an important link between the two characters. In Songbirds and Snakes, Lucy Gray loves the mockingjays in District 12, and uses the phrase “The show’s not over until the mockingjay sings”.

In the original trilogy, Katniss wears a mockingjay pin and becomes known as ‘the Mockingjay’, a symbol of the rebellion.

While there are theories that Lucy Gray and Katniss are related, nothing has been confirmed by author Suzanne Collins.

Rachel Zegler sits with her head in Tom Blyth's lap as they hold hands and look up to the sky.
Songbirds and Snakes follows an 18-year-old Corialanous Snow, who eventually becomes the future President Snow. Credit: Getty Images


Is anyone from the original movies in the prequel?

Because of when the prequel is set, none of the actors from the original trilogy will be appearing in the movie. However, the film does have younger versions of recognisable characters, like President Snow and Tigris.

Who is starring in it?

Tom Blyth is starring as Coriolanus Snow, alongside Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird. The movie also features Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow, Josh Andres Rivera as Sejanus Plinth, Jason Schwartzman as Lucky Flickerman, Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom and Viola Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul.

Plus, Francis Lawrence, who directed Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part One and Two, is back to direct Songbirds and Snakes.

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