A Fresh Start for ‘The Hunger Games’ Sans Katniss in ‘The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’

by Madison Thomas
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Hunger Games prequel

The conclusion of “The Hunger Games” series in 2015 seemed final. The films, which grossed nearly $3 billion globally, propelled Jennifer Lawrence to fame, concluding the tale of Katniss Everdeen. Suzanne Collins, alongside director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson, was ready for new endeavors.

However, in 2019, Collins had a new project: a prequel set 64 years before Katniss’ time. Titled “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” it centers on a youthful Coriolanus Snow with a significant musical aspect. This arrives at a pivotal time in Hollywood, challenging established norms with non-franchise films gaining prominence.

Despite initial concerns about continuing the series without Katniss, the team was intrigued once they read the book. They discovered a compelling story about Snow’s rise, distinct from the original saga.

The film stars Tom Blyth as Snow, chosen for his Juilliard training and charisma, and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird, Snow’s mentee. Filming took place in Germany, drawing inspiration from post-war Berlin for the Capitol’s reconstruction. Costume designer Trish Summerville returned, infusing intricate details into the wardrobe.

The film’s budget was cautiously managed at $100 million, recognizing the need for prudence with a new cast and prequel status. The production team aimed to maintain the original series’ risk-taking spirit, hoping to engage both new and existing fans.

“In the past year, a lot of young people have discovered the franchise on streaming who will hopefully join established fans at the theater for ‘The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.’”

Nina Jacobson reflected on the skepticism faced when first adapting Collins’ work, emphasizing the importance of risk and subversion in storytelling. She hopes the film will spark discussions and become a cultural phenomenon like other unique and bold films released this year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hunger Games prequel

What is “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” about?

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” is a prequel to the original “Hunger Games” series. Set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen’s story, it focuses on a young Coriolanus Snow and his journey, incorporating a significant musical element.

Who are the main actors in this Hunger Games prequel?

Tom Blyth plays the young Coriolanus Snow, originally portrayed by Donald Sutherland, and Rachel Zegler stars as Lucy Gray Baird, Snow’s mentee in the 10th Hunger Games.

What inspired the setting and aesthetic of the film?

The setting and aesthetic of the film were inspired by post-war Berlin, reflecting a Capitol in the process of reconstruction. This influence is evident in the thematic and visual elements of the movie.

How did the production team approach the budget for the film?

The production team was mindful of the budget, setting it at $100 million. This careful management reflects the film’s status as a prequel with a new cast, differing from the original series’ approach.

What does Nina Jacobson say about the film’s potential cultural impact?

Nina Jacobson believes that the film, with its moral ambiguity and complex characters, has the potential to become a shared cultural experience. She hopes it will resonate with both new and established fans, sparking discussions and communal engagement.

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