When audiences settle in for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, they should be ready to enter a different version of the annual Hunger Games.
In a first look at the upcoming Hunger Games prequel for Vanity Fair, the movie’s director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson tease how they plan to bring Suzanne Collins’ prequel to the big screen.
An origins story of the Hunger Games villain President Coriolanus Snow, the 517-page novel explores his life before stepping into his role as Panem’s tyrannical leader, along with laying the foundations for the dystopic nation fans read about in the author’s original trilogy and saw across all three movie adaptations.
“To be able to show a different side of Panem at a different time in its history has been really exciting,” Jacobson said of working on the prequel. “It’s completely different stylistically, in terms of design, character, and point of view.”
Lawrence promises, “We also get to remake District 12, remake all of the Capitol, and a brand-new arena,” which is being crafted by production designer Uli Hanisch, who will offer viewers a “new vision” of Panem.
The movie prequel, like the book, will also address topics like the history of the games, the nation’s music and even a bit of background on Katniss.
“Suzanne has done such a great job of going back into the mythology and telling a story about the creation of the world,” Lawrence explained before discussing how the film will adapt that. “You get a little background of Katniss. You will obviously get a lot of the background of Snow, the history of the Games, the history of some of the music, where songs like ‘The Hanging Tree’ actually come from.”
As for the film’s major characters, the director says Snow’s love interest, Lucy Gray Baird — played by West Side Story star Rachel Zegler — isn’t like the trilogy’s leading protagonist.
“This is not with judgment, but Lucy Gray is the anti-Katniss,” Lawrence says. “She’s a musician, she’s a performer, she’s a charmer…. Snow has never met a girl like this before.”
As for Snow himself, Jacobson describes him as “a young man finding his way in the world” whose choices and actions will signal to “the man he is becoming.”
“He is a shape-shifter who craves control,” she says, “but is drawn to a woman who threatens everything he thought he wanted.”