Panem is back, baby. On Thursday, Lionsgate released the first trailer for upcoming Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Rue’s four-note song sets an appropriately grim tone for our trip back to the dystopian society, which is currently preparing for the 10th annual Hunger Games. Academy dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) instructs mentors like Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) to turn the tributes in this year’s deadly competition into “spectacles, not survivors.” That might mean some stress ahead for Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), the District 12 tribute who gives a sarcastic bow that’s reminiscent of the one Katniss Everdeen will give 64 years later. How does Coriolanus go from an assigned mentor who brings her roses to someone she’s close enough to take a pensive swim with? Find out when The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes enters
the arena theaters on November 17, 2023.
Before this trailer, Hunger Games fans were previously fed an image of Lucy Gray Baird lying in snow back in August 2022. (Okay, she was lying on top of Blyth’s Coriolanus Snow, but it was snow nonetheless.) According to the dreamy and romantic first look images and director Francis Lawerence, the prequel is a “very intimate love story” between Baird and Snow. Decades before he becomes the president of the original trilogy, Snow finds himself preparing Baird, who captures everyone’s attention by singing during the reaping ceremony, for the televised fight to the death between district tributes. Per Deadline, Viola Davis will star as Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul. “Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable,” director Francis Lawrence said, adding that central character Coriolanus “Snow’s savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experiences with her as the games’ most commanding figure.” Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer passed on Lexi’s play to join the movie as Tigris Snow, the mentee and older cousin of Coriolanus. Josh Andrés Rivera, Jason Schwartzman, and more are also set to star.
The Hunger Games prequel will expand on the lore of the Games, including the origins of the music like “The Hanging Tree.” Production designer Uli Hanisch shared that they have created a “new version” of Palem and are excited they get to “remake District 12, remake all of the Capitol, and a brand-new arena.” Assassin’s Creed and Macbeth screenwriter Michael Lesslie will pen the script for the adaption of Suzanne Collins’s book series.
Other Songbirds and Snakes announcements have arrived in a far less straightforward manner. In a Taylor Swift–inspired move, West Side Story and Snow White’s Rachel Zegler posted a cryptic tweet (tweet!) on May 30, 2022 in which the first letter of each word spelled out “Lucy Gray Baird,” a main character in the Hunger Games prequel. The following day, Deadline confirmed that Zegler had been officially cast to join the series as Baird, a tribute from District 12. Starring in another beloved franchise in which you can show off your insane singing voice? It’s like killing two songbirds with one stone.
This post has been updated.