Let the games begin! The Hunger Games that is. It’s been a minute since we said goodbye to the dystopian world of Panem in 2015 with the release of The Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part 2, but the odds were still in favor of reviving the hit YA SF franchise. Indeed, it has now been confirmed that The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Serpents hits theaters on November 16.
Director Francis Lawrence is back in the saddle to bring us this adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ 2020 novel, a prequel set some 64 years before The Hunger Games. Which means we shouldn’t expect Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen to show up. We do, however, get another brave young tribute from District 12 – Lucy Gray Baird, played by West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler.
She’s not the main character though; Instead, we follow the rise of ambitious young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), scion of a once wealthy family who see an opportunity to restore their fortunes by acting as a mentor for Lucy in the upcoming Hunger Games. Fans of the series will of course remember that things turned out rather well for Coriolanus (for a time…), since he ended up president of Panem and looked suspiciously like actor and silver fox Donald Sutherland.
Will audiences follow the rise of a future dictator? Maybe. For all that The Hunger Games has been pilloried in some circles for being a Battle Royale rip-off (it’s not, but people will be people), what sets the series apart is a degree of political nuance. and moral ambiguity uncommon in the YA sphere.
Plus, the supporting cast is 100% stacked: Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, Hunter Schaeffer, Jason Schwartzman, and genre mainstay Burn Gorman are all in. We only have a few months until we find out if Lawrence and company. can rekindle the fire.