Director Gary Ross Won't Direct The Hunger Games: Catching Fire After All
04.11.12 by Ryan
Director Gary Ross' possible return to the director's chair for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has been the subject of much online debate this week. First it appeared that the director had dropped out of a follow-up to his wildly successful The Hunger Games, then it was reported that Lionsgate was making a last-ditch effort to keep Ross on board. All along we assumed that either Ross wouldn't abandon such a wildly successful franchise at its beginning stages or that the studio wouldn't let Ross get away, but The Playlist held strong to its story that Ross was gone and turned out to be right. In a statement, Ross said:
Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and a director, I simply don't have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.
Part of Ross' concern, at least publicly, was over Lionsgate's haste in putting Catching Fire into production. The studio eyed an August-September start date, which could have been compromised if 20th Century Fox had decided to use actress Jennifer Lawrence for an X-Men: First Class sequel at the same time. Fox had cast Lawrence first and therefore had the pole position for Lawrence's services, but decided to wait until January 2013, giving director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Simon Kinberg plenty of time to work on the script.
Catching Fire, meanwhile, already has a script from Academy Award–winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), but Ross would only have about four months to perfect it and prepare for the shoot, which apparently wasn't enough time. According to The Playlist, Ross' mind has been made up since last week and the supposed "negotiating" that was reportedly going on was a cover that allowed Lionsgate time to prepare its own statement as well.
We're very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.
Hopefully, for Hunger Games fans, Lionsgate was also looking for a replacement for Ross. While Fox handed Lionsgate their desired fall start, they have Lawrence booked for early next year and Lionsgate likely doesn't want to wait until after the First Class sequel to shoot Catching Fire.