The Hunger Games
“The Hunger Games” franchise concluded in 2015, leaving many to accept its end. Consisting of four films, this blockbuster series generated almost $3 billion worldwide and catapulted Jennifer Lawrence to superstardom.
With Suzanne Collins, director Francis Lawrence, and producer Nina Jacobson also yearning for a break and new ventures, the Katniss Everdeen saga reached its conclusion.
In the years following “Mockingjay — Part 2,” discussions between Lawrence and Collins regarding “Hunger Games” were limited to sharing screenshots of their films appearing on Jeopardy categories. However, in 2019, Jacobson and Lawrence received an important call.
Collins was working on a new project, a prequel taking place 64 years before Katniss volunteered as tribute. This prequel would center around a young Coriolanus Snow and incorporate a significant musical aspect.
“The Hunger Games Songbirds & Snakes:
The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” is set to release in theaters across the country this Friday, marking another significant moment in the ever-evolving landscape of Hollywood.
As the reign of Marvel movies becomes less confident, it is intriguing that the year’s biggest blockbusters are not necessarily pre-existing franchises.
The team expressed excitement about the potential collaboration but also had reservations about the public’s interest in Hunger Games movies that did not feature Katniss, as shared by Lawrence in a recent interview with The Associated Press. However, their concerns became irrelevant once they had the opportunity to read the book.
Collins’ Agent’s Office
Both Lawrence and Jacobson were quickly summoned to a secure room in Collins’ agent’s office, where they received the book and began reading it.
Their concerns about the Katniss issue quickly faded, and they were soon on their way to Lionsgate to kick-start the project.
Jacobson expressed his excitement about exploring new territory that didn’t feel repetitive. He emphasized that they weren’t attempting to mimic the previous movies.
Jennifer Lawrence described the experience as something reminiscent of “The Hunger Games,” yet with unique thematic elements. It deviates from the girls’ survival tale and portrays a young man’s journey into darkness.
This origin story explores the development of a significant character and reflects on the overall series itself.
For the sequel, Lawrence and Jacobson aimed to discover new and vibrant talents to take on the lead roles in the franchise. They intended to avoid casting TikTok stars or individuals already famous in other regions. Instead, they planned to complement the fresh faces with experienced actors such as Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, and Jason Schwartzman.
The role of young Snow, initially played by Donald Sutherland, was filled through a taped submission process. English actor Tom Blyth emerged as a late contender and swiftly became the top choice, surpassing hundreds of other candidates.
Lawrence expressed that the individual in question exceeded everyone’s expectations. Not only does he possess charisma and the necessary physical attributes, but he is also Juilliard-trained and highly skilled in his craft. His ability to evoke the required emotional depth for the character’s journey was undeniable. Without a doubt, he emanated star quality.
“West Side Story
Lucy Gray Baird, the District 12 tribute whom Snow assigns Lawrence to mentor for the 10th Hunger Games, was already on Lawrence’s radar. As a film enthusiast, he was captivated by Rachel Zegler’s unforgettable performance as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” prompting him to convince her to co-star.
Ziegler needed no convincing, considering “The Hunger Games” had already played a significant role in her life. Growing up with the books and movies, she, along with her mom and sister, made special occasions out of them.
Ziegler, a self-proclaimed fan, expressed her appreciation for expanding the story, considering it a valuable gift rather than a tense situation. In his inaugural leading role in Hollywood, Blyth admitted to feeling some pressure but found solace in the quality of the material they were collaborating on.
Blyth expressed gratitude for the opportunity to adapt a truly excellent book. Suzanne’s writing successfully tackles profound topics in a way that resonates with teenagers and younger readers. This ability to introduce significant concepts to young individuals while providing entertainment is commendable.
$160 Million Budget
The filming of this production primarily occurred in Germany, with a particular focus on reconstruction-era Berlin.
The aesthetic and thematic inspiration for this post-war capital, undergoing rebuilding and facing uncertain political circumstances, was derived from this location.
Moreover, Trish Summerville was again enlisted to design intricate costumes. Notably, these costumes feature hidden Easter eggs for fans, including one concealed within Lucy’s hand-painted corset.
The filmmaker, Blyth, explained that the entire world of the film revolves around spectacle and being captivated by beautiful things despite the chaos. However, despite creating a new world, the filmmakers remained disciplined. They worked within a reported budget of $100 million rather than relying on past successes like
“Mockingjay Part 2” with its $160 million budget.
“We were careful to approach this as a prequel rather than a sequel featuring a brand new cast,” Jacobson explained. “Our goal was to produce the film within a reasonable budget.”
It is important to remember that not all individuals in Hollywood believed they had a surefire hit on their hands from the start. In 2009, when Jacobson and her production company ColorForce obtained the rights to adapt Collins’ YA series, many people wondered if the potential of young adult content and the appeal of action films centered around female protagonists weren’t primarily romantic.
Not all individuals in Hollywood believed they had a guaranteed hit on their hands from the beginning. In 2009, when Jacobson and her production company ColorForce acquired the rights to adapt Collins’ YA series, there were doubts about the potential of young adult content and the appeal of action films with female protagonists beyond romance.
Jacobson believes that due to its moral ambiguity and complex characters, the movie is likely to encourage post-viewing discussions and debates among audiences.
Moreover, she highlights the significant number of young individuals who have recently discovered the franchise through streaming platforms and, hopefully, will join existing fans in the theater for ”
“We anticipate it becoming a shared cultural and communal experience, especially considering the limited number of such experiences in recent times,” mentioned Jacobson.
“This year, we’ve witnessed the success of diverse films like ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer,’ demonstrating that audiences respond when presented with compelling and original stories told with audacity by talented filmmakers. We aspire to contribute to this trend of audience engagement.”