Rachel Zegler’s Next Film Is Heading For Disaster, Report Claims

in Disney, Entertainment

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird stares on in shock

Credit: Lionsgate

While everyone’s talking about Snow White (2024), people seem to have forgotten that Rachel Zegler has another blockbuster coming out this year.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (2023) is due to hit theaters on November 17. As the name suggests, it’s the latest installment in The Hunger Games franchise – but don’t expect to see Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) or Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) on the big screen this time around.

Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth hold hands in 'The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'
Credit: Lionsgate

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Based on the book of the same name, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will instead act as a prequel. Inspired by the book of the same name by Suzanne Collins, the villain of the original series – President Coriolanus Snow (previously played by Donald Sutherland) will return. This time he is a young adult mentoring a tribute from District 12 as she prepares to compete in the annual battle royale that is The Hunger Games.

The tribute in question is Lucy Gray Baird, a member of the traveling musician group known as the Covey. In March 2022, Lionsgate revealed that Rachel Zegler had been cast in the role, joining Tom Blyth as President Snow.

Lucy Gray Baird and Coriolanus Snow stare at each other
Credit: Lionsgate

Of course, this was back before the drama that’s surrounded Zegler over the past few months. Like The Little Mermaid (2023) and others before it, Snow White had already riled audiences with the fact that it was yet another Disney live-action remake. Zegler’s comments on her role in Snow White – namely those that some see as disparaging to the original Walt Disney Animation – sparked an internet pile-on to the young actress that only made this dissent worse.

In one interview, Zegler suggested that scenes featuring her co-star Andrew Burnap – who plays Jonathan, thought to replace the prince role in the film – could be cut, which allegedly angered the film’s director, Marc Webb. In another, she notes that her version of Snow White doesn’t need a prince to save her.

One clip sees her remark that she only saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) once as a child, as it was too scary. She also went on to say that it focused on Snow White’s romance “with a guy that literally stalks her.”

Rachel Zegler pretending to be Snow White in front of a poster of the classic animated princess
Credit: Rachel Zegler via Twitter

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All in all, it’s pretty mild stuff. However, that was enough to trigger viral backlash across TikTok and Twitter. Some have called for Zegler to be removed from Snow White (the odds of which are next to zero, considering filming wrapped in July 2022). Others have vowed to boycott both the live-action Disney remake, which also stars Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen.

We’ll have to wait until March to see how that ‘boycott’ plays out (if supposed first reactions are anything to go by, Zegler is outstanding in the role). Before that, however, we have The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes – although it doesn’t sound like things are going too hot for The Hunger Games prequel, either.

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in 'The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'
Credit: Lionsgate

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According to the latest report from Box Office Pro, the film is currently tracking to open with $35 million to $45 million. That puts it behind The Marvels (2023), another November release on track for a disappointing debut, and makes it the lowest-performing entry in The Hunger Games franchise to date.

The controversy around its star obviously doesn’t help, but there was already a lot working against The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. While it will be helmed by the franchise’s long-time director, Francis Lawrence, it’s been eight years since The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015) – meaning a lot of its fanbase has drifted.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen on a fiery background with wings in Hunger Games
Credit: Lionsgate

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There’s also the fact that it’s set 64 years before the first film, meaning none of the stars that made the franchise so successful – such as Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, and Liam Hemsworth – are returning. Even the most beloved franchises struggle to launch prequels that connect with the fanbase in the same way. Just see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the Harry Potter prequel series that seems to be dead in the water.

These projections aren’t always accurate. They also don’t necessarily reflect a film’s long-term performance; Elemental (2023) is living proof of how spectacularly they can rebound at the box office. For now, however, things don’t look good.

Do you plan on seeing The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes? Let us know in the comments!

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