We’re not done with the world of Hunger Games just yet. Lionsgate has confirmed that they will dive back into the trilogy, but this time with a novel prequel from Suzanne Collins (the original Hunger Games writer) called The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which will be released on November 17, 2023. The upcoming feature will focus on Coriolanus Snow, the president of Panem during the trilogy, as a young man. The premise mainly narrows on Snow’s time with a mysterious and rebellious girl from District 12 named Lucy Gary Baird, who he mentors through the 10th Hunger Games. Despite the fact that a novel has already been written for the prequel, was there ever a need to revisit the Hunger Games world?
So, The Hunger Games is making a return. The franchise went off the rails a bit following Catching Fire, but there’s content there to really expand on outside of the games itself. I haven’t read the book so obviously, I can’t cast judgment on the quality of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes; however, the idea of going deeper into President Snow is a strong one. The prequel will follow the young man at the age of 18, so we’ll get a better understanding on why Snow has such a cynical view of the world and why he feels that the Hunger Games is a necessary tradition. Granted, the games are still happening around this time, so it won’t exactly get to the root of how this whole tradition began but focusing on Snow is close enough. Why does he feel that most lower-class citizens are nothing more than sacrificial lambs? Does he feel that they’re scum? Or worthless? Exactly how was the future evil tyrannical leader during his younger years? Did he grow up in a wealthy world? Or was he a poor citizen who witnessed firsthand just how destructive being a lower-class citizen can be? To be clear, there was never a need for a prequel, but cash rules everything in Tinseltown (or, just life in general) so the fact that one was made following the novel release isn’t much of a shocker.
Now, there’s plenty of other questions that hopefully a prequel can answer. The showcase of the wealthy treating lower/middle-class as nothing more than cattle is nothing new at this point, but hopefully there’s a deeper and new twist to the reasoning for this. Why does the rich look so down on the poor? The poor/middle class are essentially blue collar workers necessary that makes the city move and thrive. A true expiration behind the narrative of rich vs. poor could really open the door for the world of Hunger Games itself, depending on the direction that prequel goes. The spin-off doesn’t need to showcase the actual games this time around. Though given the fact that the story is Snow helping a mysterious girl trying to get through the event herself, it’s a strong possibly that the game will be showcasing in the upcoming feature. The films have been more about the political aspects than the games themselves. Sure, they were featured, but the games often felt secondary in the features, more so following Catching Fire.
There’s definitely an interesting angle at play here when it comes to Lucy Gary Baird and Snow. Was there some kind of romance? How much similarities does Baird have with Katniss Everdeen? Could that be part of the reasoning why he has such a problem with the future Hunger Games winner? There’s definitely a lot to unpack in a prequel; however, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes needs to carefully balance its message with the events itself. In some ways, The Hunger Games prequel is trapped as it likely feels that it needs to feature the popular games to keep the attention of mainstream audiences. Dystopian features struggle more often than not at the box office these days, so it’s understandable why the games have a vital place in the prequel. On the flip side, the film shouldn’t have to pander too long in the games if it doesn’t serve the overall message it’s trying to tell. Even though The Hunger Games spin-off is a solid idea, hopefully it doesn’t feel unnecessary like the decision to split the Mockingjay sequels. There’s an interesting story to tell by focusing on a young Snow that can really do wonders for the franchise. Let’s just hope that this isn’t treated as a meaningless cash grab because Collins came out with a prequel that the executives wanted to capitalize on.