The Hunger Games began many years before Katniss Everdeen was born. In the 2020 novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, author Suzanne Collins went back to the 10th Hunger Games, and to the history of Panem’s eventual president, Coriolanus Snow. The first movie adaptations of Collins’ series were quite successful, so why stop now? Director Francis Lawrence returns to the franchise with this prequel, for which we finally have a trailer—a trailer full of images both familiar and new, intriguing and upsetting.
As Mahvesh Murad wrote in her review, the novel is “also about the evolution of the Games themselves—we see the gamemakers and the first ever mentors discuss the virtues of the system, the potential it has to help the Capitol keep control over Panem.”
Tom Blyth (Billy the Kid) stars as young Coriolanus Snow, and Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) is his mentee from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird, who sings at her reaping ceremony and who may not be the angelic songbird she first appears to be.
The sprawling cast (all those tributes and mentors!) includes Hunter Schafer as Coriolanus’ cousin Tigris Snow; Jason Schwartzman as Lucky Flickerman (yes, a relative of Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman, with the same job, no less); Viola Davis as Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul; and Peter Dinklage as Games creator Casca Highbottom, who has the unfortunate task of delivering a portentous line to Coriolanus: “You hear that, boy? That’s the sound of snow… falling.”
Of course, we know Snow isn’t going to fall that far.
This is a very different Panem—grittier, blockier, less glam than the one we’ll come to know decades later. Even the arena looks more like an arena and less like a high-tech murder playground. But the spectacle remains.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is in theaters November 17th.