Long before he was the ruler of Panem, a teenage Coriolanus Snow was fighting to survive.
The last child in a once-proud family now facing financial ruin, he finds himself carrying the dreams of his clan to rule.
To get there, however, he'll need money to attend the Panem Academy… and the only way he can do that is by taking part in something he's never really agreed with: the hyper-violent Hunger Games – not as a tribute, fighting other representatives of the 13 Panem Districts, but as a mentor, teaching one competitor whatever he can to keep them alive.
"What are the Hunger Games for?" Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) is asked before he meets his tribute, the charismatic Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) from District 12 – a girl whose spark of defiance catches his interest.
"The Hunger Games are to punish the districts," he replies, but more importantly, they're a path to power he's willing to follow. It means he'll do anything to make sure Lucy will win.
The fifth movie in The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes series based on Suzanne Collins' best-selling books is set years before the story of Katniss Everdeen.
It shows how the Games came to have such a huge importance to Panem, the fractured nation made up of what was left of America after a catastrophic war.
Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage co-star as the original Games designers, with Jason Schwartzman as its founding television host.
We learn how the brutal spectacle was born, how love and betrayal warped the young Coriolanus into the absolute dictator Katniss battled, and why he found her so challenging years later.
Setting up the foundations for the story fans have come to know, this is a fitting first chapter and explains many of the missing moments and motivations of the later films.
The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes has quickly become a fan-favourite, and topped the box office in the US in its opening week with $44 million. Globally, it opened at $100 million (USD) in its first week.
The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is in cinemas now. If you want to get your Hunger Games fix at home, you can stream all four original films on Netflix, Stan and Prime Video.