The first look at The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' lead characters is finally here!
On Tuesday, Lionsgate shared the first photo of stars Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth in the upcoming prequel movie, in theaters November 2023.
Based on Suzanne Collins' 2020 novel, the adaptation follows a young Coriolanus Snow (played in the previous films by Donald Sutherland) before he became president of Panem.
Set 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games, Songbirds and Snakes sees 18-year-old Snow, played by Blyth as "a young man finding his way in the world, but he also makes choices that presage the man he is becoming," producer Nina Jacobson told Vanity Fair Tuesday.
In the film, Snow meets Lucy Gray Baird, played by West Side Story's Zegler, and they experience a "very intimate love story." Director Francis Lawrence told Vanity Fair, "It's this kind of love story set in a different kind of a world in a different time."
A tribute from District 12 like Katniss Everdeen — played by Jennifer Lawrence in the original franchise — Lucy Gray is from a group known for their close-knit, musical culture and is a musician, performer and "charmer." Lawrence added, "This is not with judgment, but Lucy Gray is the anti-Katniss."
Lucy Gray and Snow's relationship begins in the arena but quickly grows beyond the game. "Snow has never met a girl like this before," Lawrence told the outlet.
"He is a shapeshifter who craves control, but is drawn to a woman who threatens everything he thought he wanted," the director added. "As much as we may hate [Snow] in the later movies, to see that he is a real human being … there is something really satisfying about that."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
The movie will also star Viola Davis as villain Dr. Volumnia Gaul, who serves as the head gamemaker of the 10th Hunger Games; Euphoria star Hunter Schafer as Tigris, Snow's cousin who eventually becomes a stylist in the Hunger Games; Josh Andrés Rivera as Sejanus Plinth, a mentor who befriends a young Snow; Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius "Lucky" Flickerman, the host of the 10th Hunger Games and relative of Caesar Flickerman; and Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom, the Dean of the Academy where Snow attends and the unintentional creator of the Hunger Games.
At the time of Songbirds and Snakes, Snow's generation is still dealing with the aftermath following the wars that led to the creation of the Hunger Games.
"Suzanne has done such a great job of going back into the mythology and telling a story about the creation of the world," Lawrence told Vanity Fair. "You get a little background of Katniss. You will obviously get a lot of the background of Snow, the history of the Games, the history of some of the music, where songs like 'The Hanging Tree' actually come from."
As for what to expect from the movie's setting, Lawrence said production designer Uli Hanisch created a "new version" of the dystopia that properly reflect the broken and devastated society they live in. He added, "We also get to remake District 12, remake all of the Capitol and a brand new arena."
"It's completely different stylistically, in terms of design, character and point of view," Jacobson said. "To be able to show a different side of Panem at a different time in its history has been really exciting."
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes hits theaters Nov. 17, 2023.