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Buckle Up Hunger Games Fans, The First Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes Image Is Here (And Surprisingly Romantic)

Hunger Games' Ballad Of Songbirds logo title
(Image credit: Lionsgate)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes isn’t scheduled to hit theaters until late next year. However, that hasn’t stopped Lionsgate from teasing fans of The Hunger Games franchise with all sorts of information from the upcoming movie prequel to Suzanne Collins’ dystopian epic. The latest component to that machine is our first image from the film, which is surprisingly quite romantic. 

Released by Lionsgate as part of the continued Hunger Games hype machine, this Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes image shows young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) and Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) lying together in the woods. Honestly, if I hadn’t been told this was a photo from this particular franchise, I’d have thought it was a war romance of some sort set during the Vietnam era. 

But this supposedly star crossed image you’re about to see is in fact from the same universe that gave us another spin on child combat tournaments in pop culture. Take a look at the magic for yourself: 

Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler lying together in the woods in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

While this is definitely an image that shows love in the air between the future president of Panem and the tribute he’s mentoring during the 10th Hunger Games, danger lurks outside of frame. This clearly isn’t a romance that can last, especially knowing how Coriolanus Snow grows up to be a vicious, cutthroat leader played by the legendary Donald Sutherland. It also doesn’t bode well when a prequel character like Lucy Gray Baird hasn’t been mentioned in the future installments The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes sets up. 

This first photo from The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes comes not too long after the most recent casting update from director Francis Lawrence’s film. It was recently announced that Academy Award winner Viola Davis has joined the project as the villainous Dr. Voluminia Gaul. Her addition boosts the presence of an already impressive cast for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and Lionsgate is clearly ready to rev the motors on promoting this movie throughout the next year and change. 

A connection we do know about that will factor into this blockbuster prequel is that of President Snow’s cousin, Tigris. The characters were revealed to be family in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is something that will probably enhance and explain her efforts with the youthful revolution in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Acting as one of the ways this Hunger Games movie will be different, the road from Snow’s not-so-cruel past into his bastardly future will be paved with acts of cruelty down the line. 

Prequels to a dystopia such as this tend to end on bittersweet, or almost completely dark, notes. Coriolanus Snow is someone we know to sacrifice everything he has to in order to win, and poor Lucy Gray Baird will undoubtedly be the ultimate price that breaks him. It’s a reality that makes The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ first image all the more surprising, but also a downright bummer. 

We’ll see how this plays out in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which we know will debut on its planned release date of November 17, 2023. Though you can revisit the entirety of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen if you have an Epix subscription, as that platform is the current streaming home of The Hunger Games saga. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.