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Everything We Know About ‘The Hunger Games’ Prequel

In the early 2010s, The Hunger Games was a worldwide phenomenon rivaling that of the Twilight franchise. Whether you were Team Peeta or Team Gale (personally, I’m Team Katniss) or you’re Gen Z, there’s a big chance you’re familiar with Suzanne Collins’ bestselling series. The Hunger Games, released in 2008, follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem as she volunteers in her sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live television.

The subsequent installments in the series, Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010), racked up awards upon their releases, and the books were made into four film adaptations (Mockingjay being split into two parts), which were released each year from 2012 to 2015. They were widely successful, garnering almost $3 million in global box office across the four films. Even though the last film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, was released seven years ago, the series continues to be loved by Gen Z.

In 2019, it was announced that there would be a new book added to The Hunger Games series. The release of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was set for May 19, 2020, and fans were eagerly anticipating the return to the world of Panem. It was August 5, 2021 when Deadline made another exciting reveal: that there will be a The Hunger Games movie prequel, and that production for a film adaptation of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes would begin in 2022. On April 28, 2022, Lionsgate broke the news that the film would hit theaters in 2023. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the return to Gen Z’s favorite dystopian world, from its teaser trailer and cast to how Taylor Swift is involved.

The prequel is centered on a character from the original series. 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel to The Hunger Games, meaning that its story precedes the events in the original book. The story follows an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow (that’s right, the tyrannical, oppressive, all-powerful leader of Panem) as he prepares to be a mentor in the tenth annual Hunger Games, hoping to have a shot at glory by mentoring the winning tribute. Snow gets assigned to Lucy Gray Baird, the female tribute from District 12, who is the lowest of the low in his eyes. Every choice he makes could lead to victory or ruin for the both of them — inside the arena, it’s a fight to the death, while, outside the arena, Snow begins to develop feelings for his mentee. 

The cast is under wraps.

The casting for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is TBA, but there will be a few familiar faces returning to the crew. Francis Lawrence, who directed the last three The Hunger Games movies, will also be directing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. On top of that, franchise producers Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson are returning, and Michael Arndt (who was a writer on Catching Fire) will be adapting it for the big screen.

Suzanne Collins is also on the film crew.

OG book fans: you can rest easy, the author herself is involved. Suzanne Collins will serve as an executive producer on the movie alongside Tim Palen (who also worked on The Hunger Games). On top of that, Collins will write the initial treatment (AKA a document that presents the story idea of a film before writing the entire script). She also wrote the treatment for the first The Hunger Games movie, and served as a screenwriter for it as well as for Mockingjay Part 1

The movie has a release date.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes movie will be released on November 17, 2023. If you’re an OG fan, you’ll know that November is The Hunger Games season — the last three films were released during the same month.  

There is a teaser trailer.

A teaser trailer for the movie was played at CinemaCon, an annual trade show for theater owners, upon the announcement of the release date. It has not been released elsewhere. However, Variety reports that it panned over icy tree branches and gold as text appeared that read, “The world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake.”

Taylor Swift may contribute to the soundtrack.

After quoting Film Updates’ tweet about the release date announcement with “Welcome back, tributes,” the official Hunger Games Twitter account sent fans into a frenzy. Among the many replies (i.e. the very apt “I’M GOING TO FAINT RN” and “Screaming, crying, throwing up”), there was one that led to even more excitement. One user asked “So @taylorswift13 on the soundtrack? I know you want it,” to which the official Hunger Games account responded “I will be writing my boss a 10 page email trying to make this happen I promise.” Swift previously contributed two songs (“Safe & Sound” and “Eyes Wide Open”) to the The Hunger Games soundtrack, so who knows! 

As a major (and I mean Katniss-for-Halloween, posters-on-my-walls MAJOR) The Hunger Games fan, it’s needless to say that 2023 can’t come soon enough. 

Hi! I'm an editorial intern at Her Campus and Senior Editor at HC Pace! I can recite Gilmore Girls lines from memory and you can find me wherever books, dogs, or concerts are.