Lionsgate announced today that the studio has cast Academy Award winner Viola Davis as Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul in the studio’s upcoming feature film The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ #1 New York Times bestseller (See on Amazon).
The announcement was made today by Nathan Kahane, president, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. Davis will star in the film opposite Tom Blyth, who will play the young Coriolanus Snow, and Rachel Zegler, as tribute Lucy Gray Baird.
The studio recently announced that moviegoers will return to The Hunger Games, the landmark film franchise that has earned over $3 billion globally, as The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes debuts in theaters worldwide on November 17, 2023.
Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12.
But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.
Kahane said, “The Hunger Games films have always been elevated by their exceptional casting, and we are thrilled to be continuing that tradition with Viola Davis as Volumnia Gaul. Her formidable and powerful presence will add layers of complexity and menace to this story.”
Director Francis Lawrence added, “Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable. Snow’s savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experiences with her as the games’ most commanding figure.”
Producer Nina Jacobson said, “From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role. A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping a young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become. We are incredibly fortunate to have an actor with Viola’s extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role.”
The film will be directed by Francis Lawrence, who previously directed the franchise’s Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part One, and Mockingjay Part Two.
The movie will be shepherded by franchise producer Nina Jacobson and her producing partner Brad Simpson, along with Francis Lawrence. Suzanne Collins and Tim Palen will serve as executive producers.
The latest draft of the screenplay is by Michael Lesslie (Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, and Assassin’s Creed). Lesslie builds on the work of writers Suzanne Collins and Michael Arndt (the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Little Miss Sunshine, as well as serving as one of the writers of Catching Fire).
The screenplay is based on Collins’ bestselling novel. Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien are overseeing on behalf of the studio.
Viola Davis is a critically revered, award-winning actress, producer, and New York Times best-selling author. She is the first black actress to win two Tony Awards (Fences & King Hedley II), an Oscar (Fences) and an Emmy (How to Get Away with Murder).
Davis will next be seen starring in The Woman King, which she also produced. In 2012, Davis and her husband Julius Tennon founded their production company, JuVee Productions, with its focus being on giving a voice to the voiceless through strong, impactful and culturally relevant narratives.