Return to Panem in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. This sweeping prequel story presents the origins of President Coriolanus Snow, played here as a younger man by Tom Blyth.
The movie dramatises Snow's complex relationship with District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) and how this inadvertently set the stage for Katniss Everdeen's rebellion some 60 years later.
Earlier this week, we invited a host of Hunger Games super-fans and influencers to attend our special multi-sensory 4DX screening at Cineworld O2. We invited the attendees to feel the visceral and hard-hitting sensations of the Capitol arena via motion-controlled seats and immersive, tactile effects, an experience that is wholly unique to Cineworld.
Keep on reading to discover their reactions to 4DX and why you shouldn't miss out on the 4DX rollercoaster ride. We also wanted to know why the Hunger Games is now more relevant than ever before and what it means to be awed by such a dystopian epic on the big screen.
What was your first Hunger Games experience on the big screen?
I think I was with my family. I remember seeing the trailer and telling my mum, "I really, really want to go." This was close to 10 years back. I was technically still a kid.
I loved that Katniss was empowered as a main character. She literally just sacrifices herself to join the Hunger Games because of her sister. And I thought that was quite an empowering move. And then you see her grow to become sort of like a leader by the whole situation that's happening in District 12. So, it was honestly such an amazing experience watching it for the first time.
I've been [a fan] since Mockingjay Part Two came out in 2015. I watched all of the movies. I became so obsessed and 13-year-old me fixated on it. Now finally this movie is out, I cannot contain my excitement.
I’m so excited. And I can tell that so much effort has been put into it. So yeah, I can't wait to see President Snow’s villain origin story.
I remember that when I was younger, I loved the cinema but if I'd go, it'd usually be cartoons. I had so much anticipation for The Hunger Games.
I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat because I didn't know what was going to happen next. And that was one of the only films really that I've seen in the cinema that’s kind of done that for me. So, that's why I'm so excited for this.
What is the significance of The Hunger Games to you personally?
I do BookTok and I’m a big fan of the books. I grew up on them around the dystopian [young adult] era. They mean a lot to me. And when [author Suzanne Collins] came up with a new book, I absolutely ate it up and read it three times. To be here at the exclusive screening is so, so cool.
Michelle Isabel T
I am super thrilled. I've been the biggest fan ever since launch. I'm a big Katniss Everdeen fan. I think I was 12 when I first saw the first movie and I grew up watching it.
[I wore] my hair's like to the side just like Katniss did in the first Hunger Games and Catching Fire. The books are great as well. I'm super excited to see the prequel.
Honestly, I was just a sucker for dystopian movies. So, there was the Maze Runner series and Divergent, which I became obsessed with. I think we need to bring back those types of movies because everyone loved them so much. Anything that's set in the near future where the world is messed up.
When I rewatched The Hunger Games [recently], it felt less dystopian than when I watched it when I was 13. Especially all the Capitol's outfits, because it reminded me so much of the Met Gala and like, all of the elitist high culture events where they're dressed like Capitol people now. And that was never a thing [before]. It's a little bit scary.
I love dystopian things anyway, but I've been a big fan since I was young. If 15-year-old Sarah could see me now, she'd be freaking out. I just can't believe they made The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes into a film and I can't wait to see how they've done it.
We've all seen the 74th and the 75th [annual Hunger Games] and we know what happens, we know how it ends. It's going to be so awesome to start again at the beginning. Suzanne Collins is an absolute genius. I don't know how she does it.
I think it's just a whole other world. Realistically, I don't think there are any other films you can compare it to. I was a really big fan of Twilight when that came out. And then I think this was like the next setup for that dystopian style of film. It was really, really up my alley.
What is your essential big-screen routine?
Michelle Isabel T
So, I must find a friend that I would enjoy watching it with. I get the tickets and I definitely choose [a seat in] the middle row so I’m not too close to the front. And then I would always go for a sweet and salted popcorn. If they have caramel popcorn, it's even better.
Also, I would go for something like a Diet Coke, which I think balances the popcorn really well. And, of course, you have to switch off your phone before you watch it. Then, just before watching the movie, I like to share the experience with my friends who follow me on social media.
What was it like watching the new Hunger Games movie in 4DX?
So, I was at the very front and it was mindboggling. First came the bullets. Then I felt the wind and I was like, “Whoa!” I couldn't stay in my seat properly. Smoke was all in my face. It was just amazing.
I really felt like I could experience what they were experiencing, and it really brought out the emotion. I think the next thing [I’m going to try to see in 4DX] is Captain Marvel and seeing how that feels in 4DX. Because yeah, it was nothing short of breathtaking.
It made it so you’re really in every moment of the scene. The storms, the jumping, the lights – it makes you feel really part of the whole film.
Have you experienced 4DX before?
I've done it once. But it was in Berlin. I feel like this is better by, like, a billion. They don't shake you so much. It’s more extreme [here]. That was awesome.
What were your reactions to your first-ever 4DX screening?
It was really interesting. To be totally honest, I was dizzy at points because it was like a rollercoaster at times. But it was quite amazing. It did all these squirty bits when all the water and then it snowed.
It was wild – you get the smells of everything as well. I thoroughly enjoy it. I think it was. It was a really interesting perspective that immersed you in the film.
What does 4DX do for the big-screen experience?
I mean, it just elevates the entire thing. I think media is so important. People need entertainment more now than ever. But I just think it's so important that people get to experience [films] in as big of a way as possible, especially because making a movie is such a long process.
It takes so much time and involves so many people – like if you ever actually sit and watch the credits of any movie, it goes on for like 10 minutes!
So many people work on a film and they deserve to be acknowledged via a huge screen with moving chairs and snow. It's supposed to be an experience.
Why is it important to see a movie like The Hunger Games in the cinema?
I think it's a different experience when you come to the cinema. It’s a different environment, being around other people who are excited to watch the same thing. When you get lines that are funny or shock you and you hear [gasping] or laughter, it’s a nice thing to be around.
May the odds be ever in your favour. Click the link below to book your tickets for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is now on release at Cineworld.
Al Horner is a movie and multimedia journalist who has written for the likes of Empire, The Guardian, the BBC, British GQ and Little White Lies. Find him on Twitter here.