Lionsgate/Murray Close

It’s time to return to Panem, and the world of The Hunger Games. The prequel film The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, out this weekend, is an origin story of sorts of the President Snow character, played in the films by Donald Sutherland.

The new film’s executive producer Nina Jacobson tells ABC Audio they wanted to make sure audiences could follow along even if they haven’t read the original books or watched the original films, explaining, “We have no business making a movie if this movie cannot stand on its own independent of the other movies and be perfectly complete and rewarding and legible to somebody who has never, ever dabbled in any of the books or movies.

“That said, as a diehard fan myself, who has stayed in touch over the years with many of my fellow diehard fans, it was also a great opportunity to share all of this incredible world building and origin detail that [Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins] provided that I didn’t know,” she continues. I learned a lot the first time I read the book.”

Director Francis Lawrence adds that while yes, this is a Hunger Games film, “It’s very different than a story about Katniss. We’re 64 years before all the other ones, so it’s almost a period piece to the other movies.”

“So like world creation was really different. Hair makeups, wardrobes, totally different. The games are entirely different. You know, technology’s much more rudimentary. So we kind of approached everything in a very, very different way.”

“A huge part of it that I think is really fun for the old fans is just the origins of not just Snow, but the origins of the games, the origins of the Hanging Tree song [and] seeing the Hanging Tree,” he explains.

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