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."

    🚨 There are MASSIVE spoilers ahead for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes! 🚨

    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."

    the cast on the red carpet

    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."

    scene where a man is in a hospital bed as someone visits and then two characters with weapons in the city

    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."

    closeup of two of the characters inside a large headquarter

    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.

    her character standing in the middle of a crowd that is dirty

    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."

    his character holding a flower and saying, welcome to the captitol

    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.

    closeup of his character and then sutherland in the original, both are wearing flower lapels

    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.

    tom holding rachel's chin in the woods for a scene

    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.

    her character asking snow what are the hunger games for and he answers, to punish the districts

    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.

    the characters playing and dancing in a dark room

    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.

    lucy playing in the film and then maybelle playing on stage

    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.

    dave in the living room with other artists performing songs and behind the scenes filming of rachel playing on a stage

    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.

    behind the scenes of her filming with a guitar in the field

    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.

    side by side of the two characters giving a bow

    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.

    katniss using a bow and arrow

    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.

    closeup of her  sitting in a room at a desk

    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.

    the different arenas and games locations

    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."

    closeup of lucy walking into a building of rubble

    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.

    characters walking in a fancy building

    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."

    large fountain in the city square, people in uniform in a church-like building, and two people walking up stairs in a manicured yard

    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.

    the current characters dressed in their costumes

    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."

    two characters in a lake

    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.

    the two characters

    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."

    they're walking in the woods and then tom is aiming his gun

    The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is in theaters now.

    View this video on YouTube

    Lionsgate / Via youtu.be