Let us take you back to a time before comic-book films completely dominated the film industry. A time when every studio was trying to find the next “Harry Potter” series. Oh yes, the Age of the YA Novel Film Adaptations. It inspired studios to go for cinematic adaptations like “The Divergent Series”, “The Maze Runner Trilogy” and “The Percy Jackson” films. For every mildly successful YA novel adaptation, there was a slew of mediocre ones that never took off like “The Host”, “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”, “Ender’s Game”, “I Am Number 4” and on and on it goes. While never quite reaching the glorious peak of the “Harry Potter” saga, there was a time during the early 2010s when “The Hunger Games” film franchise was a household name. The story of a poor girl who inspired a revolution through her performance in a sadistic, pageant/battle royale. Truly, it was the last great YA film franchise.
Well if you were fans of books or films, we’ve got some great news for you! Come 2023, you’ll once again get to witness all the drama, beauty and brutality of the Hunger Games with the upcoming prequel to 2012’s “The Hunger Games”. Introducing “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”. We’re here to break down the plot, characters, actors and everything you need to know about the film!
The film is set 64 years before the events of “The Hunger Games” and follows the story of a young Coriolanus “Coryo” Snow. For those that may be forgotten, President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland, is the twisted mastermind Katniss Everdeen battled against throughout the franchise. A ruthless politician who knew exactly how to get under Katniss’ skin. In “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” though, we see a very different version of Snow, or should we say Coryo. Once the son of a wealthy family before becoming orphaned after the war that shaped Panem. Through his exceptional performance at the Academy, an elite school in the Capitol, he was chosen to be a mentor to a tribute from District 12, a young, beautiful singer named Lucy Gray Baird.
Together, the two of them would triumph through the tenth Hunger Games and form a strong bond. Along the way though, Coryo finds himself being corrupted by the world around him, namely by the Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul. A flamboyant and wicked woman who has an odd use for colourful snakes that we won’t spoil (it’s pretty nasty). The title of the film, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is an allusion to the story of Coryo’s divided allegiances. His lover Lucy Gray, who is part of a travelling group of musicians called the Covey, represents the songbird. Both as a symbol of her love for music and freedom. Birds, such as the Mockingjay, have often represented symbols of resistance and freedom throughout the franchise.
On the other hand, there are the snakes which represents the darker side of Coryo’s nature, one that is fostered by the cruel realities of the Capitol and Gaul’s cynical view of the world. Snow’s greatest trial in the film will come when he’s confronted with a rebel conspiracy by one of his best friends, Sejanus Plinth. A friend whom Coryo has a complicated relationship with. The choices Coryo makes throughout the film will forever shape the future of Panem and define his totalitarian rule as the vicious President Snow. There are a lot more juicy bits we won’t spoil but if you’re hungry to get more details on the plot of the film, you can check our Suzanne Collins’ book of the same name.
Characters and Cast
Before he was the white-haired monster of the series, Coryo in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” was quite a dashing young man with golden, yellow hair. This portrayal of the character will be brought to life by Tom Blyth, who played Archie Baldwin in HBO’s “The Gilded Age”. Much like Tom Sturridge from “The Sandman”, he’s a relative unknown but we’re hoping to see great things from the man. Coryo’s protege and eventual lover, Lucy Gray Baird is played by Rachel Zegler who played Maria Vasquez in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and will be appearing in 2023’s “Shazam! Fury of the Gods”. Hunter Schafer will also be joining the cast as Tigris Snow, who is a cousin and friend to Coryo.
The main antagonist of the film, Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul will be played by Viola Davis, who played Amanda Waller in 2021’s “The Suicide Squad” and “Peacemaker”. We think the actress is a perfect fit for the role and we can’t wait to see her brutally educate young Coryo on the nature of power and the necessity of the Hunger Games. Actor Josh Andres Rivera will be playing the role of Sejanus Plinth, the secret rebel plotting to bring down the Capitol and end the barbaric practice of the games. Another one of Coryo’s friends, and rivals, is Clemensia Dovecote who is played by Ashley Liao in the Disney film “Secret Society of Second-Born Royals”. While friendly at first, their relationship in the film will eventually prove to be quite…venomous.
Oh and surprise, surprise Peter Dinklage, who played Tyrion in “Game of Thrones”, also be appearing in the film as Casca Highbottom. The creator of the Hunger Games and principal of the Academy in which Coryo attends. Throughout the novel, Highbottom makes no secret of his dislike of Coryo. This is due to Coryo’s father, Crassus Snow, making Highbottom’s joke idea of a punishment into a nightmarish dystopic reality. As fans of the series, we’re thrilled about finally being able to see how the Hunger Games came to be and the minds behind the practice.
As of now, the film is set for release in November 2023. The film will be distributed by Lionsgate and will be directed by Francis Lawrence, who directed “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” and “Part 2”.
Stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming film!