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The Hunger Games return! 'Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Starring Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes goes back decades in time to the 10th annual Hunger Games


Welcome back to Panem, though not quite the one you remember.

Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage are reaping a new crop of tributes for that familiar gladiatorial competition in the first trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

In Lionsgate's closer look at the dystopian prequel, we return to a world in which every year two children from each of the country's districts are chosen at random to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. This time, it's a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) and his mentee, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), who are locked in a battle of life or death.

"I am honored to introduce to you the creator of the Hunger Games," a sinister Volumnia Gaul (Davis), Head Gamemaker, says in the trailer, cueing Dinklage's entrance as Casca Highbottom. He takes a swig of some booze that's reminiscent of Woody Harrelson's hardened mentor Haymitch Abernathy.


Lionsgate Viola Davis in the 'Hunger Games' prequel

Further signaling the harsh dictator Coriolanus will one day grow up to be, the trailer concludes with a chilling voiceover from Donald Sutherland, who played the older version of the character in the original film franchise: "It's the things we love most that destroy us," he says.

A prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy that starred Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes goes back decades in time to the 10th annual Hunger Games, when the tyrannical president of Panem was just a teenager. He's tasked with being a mentor to the female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird.

"Your role is to turn these children into spectacles, not survivors," an impartial Casca informs Coriolanus.

However, Lucy, not unlike Lawrence's Katniss, makes a spectacle of herself at the Reaping ceremony. She commands the country's attention with a defiant song, though we see her in the trailer curtseying towards the crowd, similar to how Katniss mocks the adjudicators at the Capitol after firing an arrow towards their cooked pig.

"You really want to take care of me in that arena?" Lucy asks her mentor, who first presents her with a white rose — the future symbol of President Snow's tyranny. "Start by thinking I can actually win."


The trailer delivers looks at other members of the cast, including Euphoria star Hunter Schafer as a much younger Tigris. She tries to impress upon her cousin and confidante Coriolanus that winning isn't everything. (Good luck there!)

Jason Schwartzman also arrives as Lucretius "Lucky" Flickerman, the first host of the Hunger Games and an ancestor to Caesar Flickerman, who was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in the original franchise.

Fans can get a sense of this particular time period in Panem. The arena Lucy must survive, as well as the bevy of television screens, feels more 1970s fallout shelter and less future-tech. The Capitol itself, meanwhile, is cold and authoritarian, contrasting the dystopian glam and couture present in the original films.

Francis Lawrence, who helmed Catching Fire and Mockingjay 1 and 2, returns to direct the prequel alongside franchise producers Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes hits theaters Nov. 17. Ready to head back to the districts? Watch the first trailer above.

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