I Genuinely Can't Watch "The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes" The Same Way After Reading These BTS Facts
Although The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the longest The Hunger Games book, director Francis Lawrence never wanted to split the adaptation into two movies, saying, "We got too much backlash from splitting up Mockingjay."
1.First, author Suzanne Collins called director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson at the end of 2019 to tell them, "Surprise, I'm almost done with another book," which shocked them because after the Mockingjay movies, "there were no plans for any other books."
2.Although it was "brought up," there was never a thought to split The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes into two movies, as they did with Mockingjay. Francis said, "We got too much backlash from splitting up Mockingjay."
3.When it came to casting, Francis and Nina wanted to follow a similar format as the original The Hunger Games movies: young, up-and-coming, and/or unknown actors coupled with "veteran legacy actors."
4.Rachel Zegler was the first person on Francis's list to play Lucy Gray Baird. He had previously seen her in West Side Story and thought she would be perfect for this role.
5.Francis didn't know of Tom Blyth's work before casting him as young Coriolanus Snow, but as soon as he watched his audition tape he was "blown away."
6.In particular, Francis loved how Tom echoed Donald Sutherland's performance from the original movies and immediately made you believe he was a young Snow.
7.Rachel and Tom did a chemistry read together before they were both officially offered the roles. For the chemistry read, they performed one Lucy Gray and Coryo scene, but the big thing was Francis had Rachel sing to Tom.
8.Viola Davis was Francis's first choice to play Dr. Gaul. Before filming began, Viola and Francis talked a lot about Gaul's character, how she grooms Snow to become who he becomes, and Francis talked about the themes of the books and movies that made other "caliber of actors" like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, and more sign on to be part of the previous films.
9.Lucy Gray and the Covey's music was inspired by "'20s, '30s West Virginia" folk and country music. In particular, the Carter Family was a big inspiration for the music in the movie.
10.In fact, Maybelle Carter and June Carter Cash inspired Lucy Gray's performances and music. In particular, Maybelle was known for having a guitar that was almost too big for her, which is a design they took for Lucy Gray.
11.When it came time to take Suzanne's lyrics for Lucy Gray and the Covey's songs from page to screen, the team enlisted the help of Dave Cobb, a Nashville producer and songwriter.
12.Rachel sang all of Lucy Gray's songs, including "The Hanging Tree," live on set. So, all of the performances you hear in the movie were done live and nothing was pre-recorded.
13.The moment when Lucy Gray bows at her Reaping ceremony was a conscious nod to Katniss's bow from The Hunger Games. It wasn't a moment that was written into the script, but something Francis and Rachel came up with while filming.
14.Francis's other favorite Easter egg is when you can spot a bow and arrows when Coryo enters to arena to find Sejanus, as an homage to Katniss.
15.Getting to meet a young Tigris and learn about her family relationship with Snow was one of Francis's favorite things from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. He loved how this prequel now changes the way you see Tigris when she pops up in Mockingjay – Part 2.
16.When it came to bringing another Hunger Games to the screen, Francis didn't want the 10th annual Hunger Games to feel repetitive or too similar to the 74th and 75th Hunger Games we see in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. So, they really embraced that it would feel very different.
17.One of the ways they achieved this was by leaning into "how rudimentary" the 10th annual Hunger Games is, in comparison to the games in the first movies. Francis explained, "There's no fancy elevators bringing people up. You're just brought out at gunpoint. It's dirty, there's rubble, there's crumbling walls, and some people are dragged out and some people are shoved out. Also, the buzzer, you don't even have the cannons."
18.Dr. Gaul's laboratory was filmed on location in Berlin in an actual crematorium that production took over for a few days to turn into Gaul's lab.
19.When it came to designing the look of Panem at this point in history, Francis and production designer Uli Hanisch researched Reconstruction Era Berlin and looked at "Berlin after World War II and how you rebuild."
20.Looking at the 1940s and 1950s for the design of Panem also inspired the look of the costumes in the movie. Francis said they leaned into slightly "more sophisticated" makeup, hair, and wardrobe from that time period, instead of seeing the "wackiness" of the styles in the Capitol from the original Hunger Games movies.
21.Unlike The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, this movie doesn't start and end with the Hunger Games. There is a whole story that happens once the games end, and Francis said it was "one of the challenges" when adapting this book, alongside "telling a villain's origin story."
22.The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book has a very open ending when it comes to what happens to Lucy Gray, and that mystery was something the filmmakers always wanted to embrace when it came to the adaptation.
23.And finally, Francis's favorite sequence to film in the movie is the final moments with Lucy Gray and Snow in the woods. He said, "I just think Tom did a fantastic job. It's where I felt the story really kind of coming together and really working. That's the kind of filmmaking that I love. So, I'm very, very proud of that."
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is in theaters now.