How Hunger Games Director Francis Lawrence Felt When Returning To The Franchise For The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes

Gary Ross got the Hunger Games film series going in 2012, but it was Francis Lawrence who oversaw the rest of the movies starring Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta Mellark and Liam Hemsworth’s Gale Hawthorne. While that cinematic saga ended in 2015 with Mockingjay — Part 2, Lawrence has returned to Panem for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel set decades before the previous movies. We’re still a year away from seeing that entry in the 2023 movies lineup, but Lawrence did share with CinemaBlend what it felt like for him to return to the Hunger Games franchise.

Francis Lawrence is currently making the press rounds for Slumberland, the fantasy movie starring Jason Momoa and Marlow Barkley with can be streamed with a Netflix subscription starting Friday. Before his interview with Lawrence ended, our own Sean O’Connell asked the filmmaker what his first day on the set of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was like for him as far as returning to this “world,” and he answered:

It was really fun. I have to say that it was interesting. It feels very different and very fresh, but also very much a Hunger Games story. So it was really, really exciting. We actually just wrapped two or three days ago. I just got back from Berlin yesterday.

While the original Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book by Suzanne Collins was published on May 19, 2020, Lionsgate started talking with the author about putting together a film adaptation the year prior, and the movie was officially announced a month before the book’s release. Filming began in July, and as Franchis Lawrence recalled, there was a mix of the familiar and brand-new working on the prequel, which made for an invigorating experience. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes wrapped principal photography earlier this month in Berlin, Germany, so now, as Sean put it, “the fun part starts” for Lawrence and his team (a.k.a. post-production), to which the filmmaker responded, “Exactly.”

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes chronicles the rise of Coriolanus Snow, who will become President of Panem and was played by Donald Sutherland in the original Hunger Games movies. The younger Snow, who’s being brought to life by Tom Blyth, must serve as a mentor for Rachel Ziegler’s Lucy Gray a tribute in the 10th Hunger Games. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ cast also includes Hunter Schafer, Jason Schwartzman, Peter Dinklage, Viola Davis, Burn Gorman and Fionnula Flanagan (among many others), and Michael Arndt and Michael Lesslie handled scripting duties.

Mark November 17, 2023 on your calendars if you’re eager to see The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on the big screen. If you’re interested in re-watching the first four Hunger Games movies, break out your Amazon Prime Video subscription.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.