The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: release date, trailer, cast and everything you need to know about the Hunger Games prequel

First image from The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes featuring Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) and Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) lying together on a blanket in some woods
The very first look at our our two leads, Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth. (Image credit: Murray Close/Getty Images)

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the fifth installment of The Hunger Games saga, and its now in movie theaters!

Adapted from the fourth novel by Suzanne Collins, this prequel transports us decades into Panem’s past, where we’ll meet a very different version of The Hunger Games' tyrannical villain, President Snow. 

In the new movie, we meet a teenage version of the menacing figure,  on the morning of the reaping. This is due to kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games, with Coriolanus Snow handed the task of mentoring one of the tributes from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird.

Here's everything we know about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes so far...

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes release date 

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in theaters after being released on November 17, 2023.

Lionsgate confirmed that release date at the end of their CinemaCon session earlier this year.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: first reviews

The reception to The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes appears to be fairly mixed. At the time of our latest update, the film has a 61% score on Rotten Tomatoes, from a total of 67 reviews.

In What To Watch's The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes review, we rated the film 3.5/5 stars, claiming the movie was 'a prequel done right' and 'a worthwhile look into one of the Hunger Games' more intriguing and enigmatic characters'. 

Variety also praised the film, stating that the prequel '"mpressively expands the canon while honoring its key themes". By comparison, The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw gave the film a 1-star rating, arguing that 'the time to end the Games came long ago'.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes trailer

A new Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes trailer arrived on September 20. In it, we get to see Lucy and the other Tributes doing battle in the Hunger Games arena, and see the relationship between Coriolanus and Lucy evolving from purely business to one of genuine care. Check it out here:

The first official trailer was released on April 27, and it's nothing short of exciting. Check out the clip below. 

We've also embedded the original reveal trailer below, if you want to revisit it:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes plot 

As we've mentioned, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes revolves around the would-be President, Coriolanus Snow. His family are running out of assets after their munitions factory in District 13 was destroyed in the war with the Capitol. 

Ahead of the 10th-annual Hunger Games, Snow is assigned as the mentor to the female District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray Baird. Determined to make a good impression, he intends to work with Lucy to receive 

The full synopsis for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes reads: “Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol.

“With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.”

Who's in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes cast?

Tom Blyth (Billy The Kid) will star as the young Coriolanus Snow, with West Side Story's Rachel Zegler featuring opposite as Lucy Gray Baird, the tribute from District 12 whom he's tasked with mentoring.

Euphoria star Hunter Schafer is also on board as Coriolanus's cousin, Tigris Snow, who serves as his close advisor. Jason Schwartzmann (The French Dispatch) is also on board as Lucretius "Lucky" Flickerman, the host for the 10th Hunger Games.

Additionally, Game of Thrones alumn Peter Dinklage is set to feature as Casca Highbottom, the co-creator of the Hunger Games as we know them. In mid-August 2022, we also learned that Viola Davis (The First Lady) had joined the cast as Head Gamemaker, Dr. Volumnia Gaul.

Additional casting includes Josh Andrés Rivera (West Side Story), Sofia Sanchez, Ashley Liao (Physical), Jerome Lance and Nick Benson.

Who’s directing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? 

Director Francis Lawrence is returning to the franchise once again to direct Songbirds and Snakes. He's been at the helm of every installment in the saga since Catching Fire (Gary Ross directed the first film in the series). 

Will Jennifer Lawrence be in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

Whilst there’s no official word on whether Jennifer Lawrence will reprise her role just yet, it seems unlikely. That’s because this is a prequel set decades before Katniss was even born. 

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at

Martin is a Staff Writer with, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.